Family: Wife, Maria; children, Micah, April, Amy, David, Jay, Sarah and Andrea, Joy; and 23 grandchildren
In Town: “My wife Marie is a registered nurse. She divides her time between private duty nursing and home health both as a visiting nurse and as an office worker. She works close to full time and adds to the farm income as we expand our dairy. In addition, we love to spend time with our family. Half of our kids and grandkids live out of state but when they come to visit, the older grandkids help with light chores and the younger ones love to ‘help’ milk the cows, feed the calves and ride on the tractor.”
Country Life: “Ours is a small Jersey/Guernsey dairy that sells fresh milk by request to friends and neighbors. We have a total of 25 animals and are currently milking eight cows. The rest are dry cows, young heifers, calves and bulls. I have both purebred Jerseys and Guernsey’s as well as Jersey/Guernsey crosses bred by two crossed bulls and a Guernsey bull. We have our cows on pasture in spring and summer, and hay in winter and use rotational grazing as much as possible. We also supplement the cows’ diet with brewers grains for protein. Cows are incredibly sensitive to sweetness and can detect as little as one-quarter of one percent, so they will seek out the most nutritious grasses first. This also makes brewer’s grain perfect for my cows since the drained grain contains all the protein and only minute quantities of carbohydrate which is sweet. My cows love it. In addition, I feed my calves, especially heifers, from older cows rather than milk replacer, which I use for bull calves only when necessary.
“I wish I had listened more than I did to the old folks when I was young because they knew so much that is now mostly forgotten. An example is the usefulness of the black soldier fly. In its larval stage, the heat loving worm consumes piles of manure voraciously and leaves only 30 pounds of debris from a 100-pound pile. When the larvae mature to insect stage, they look like mud daubers and have no mouths. The benefit is that their pheromones ward off other flies. When it comes to decomposing manure a saying from a famous movie seems to fit. They said, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Well, if you gather manure and cover it with hay, the black soldier flies will come to lay eggs.”
Future: “We are currently experimenting with cheese recipes as we construct a Grade A commercial facility, including a kitchen for making cheese and a retail room for milk, cheese and other dairy products. While we are in this process, we will be inspected frequently to ensure that we are meeting all Grade A standards and we are looking forward to selling more products.”