As many of you know, this past year has been exciting but quite challenging for us.
The past two summers have both been droughts and this winter was the coldest and snowiest winter in decades, followed up by a prolonged cold muddy spring.
As farmers, we’re out in the thick of it – rain or shine, cold or heat, and everything in between. Naturally, the bizarre weather patterns we’ve been experiencing make life a lot harder for us in our day-to-day routines.
In addition to the strange weather, we’ve also had quite a few changes in our family life over the past year.
First, we moved from Lowell to Howard City to expand our business. Almost immediately after moving, Baylor was born, followed by our rapid expansion into the Metro Detroit/Southeast Michigan area, and our absorption of the bulk of a retired herdshare in the Greenville area.
All of these changes have been for the better, but they’ve also come with a cost. Our work-life balance is practically non-existent and we are finding it increasingly difficult to balance our family’s needs with the needs of the farm.
One year ago we had 8 milk cows, while now our total herd has grown to 38, with 2-3 more calves born every month. It’s great for the farm! We are growing the dairy herd and have started crossing some cows with Angus to build up a better grassfed beef line.
The downside of all this, is that our new bigger farm in Howard City, is starting to feel small.
With all that in mind, my mom sent us an ad for an auction on a defunct dairy farm in Eaton Rapids, the town where I was born and where most of my family and extended family still live, it seemed like an opportunity worth checking out.
Dan and I went to see the farm, and at first neither of us seemed to want to admit how much we liked it. It was the trifecta – beautiful farmhouse, all the farm facilities in place, and the perfect location near our family and the support network we’ve been lacking.
On a long shot we registered for the auction and by some miracle found ourselves to be the highest bidder on auction day.
We are moving (again).
That is absolutely crazy for me to write.
One year ago – literally May 16 (our wedding anniversary!) – we moved into our current farm, quickly listed our farm in Lowell and purchased our current property.
Never in a million years would we have thought we’d be finding ourselves in the same position only a year later. But, as both our family and our farm have grown, we are realizing how important to is to us to be near family.
We want our kids to see their grandparents regularly, and to know their aunts and uncles and cousins, and we need that support network in order to continue doing what we do. We are excited to be moving home, but we will certainly miss our farm here in Howard City and all it’s natural beauty.
As for our new farm in Eaton Rapids, the farm buildings are perfect for our operation – until 15 years ago the farm was a fully functional Grade A dairy. The house is beautiful – just in need of some wallpaper removal. And the location is ideal for our family’s needs, central to highways and both our West and Southeast Michigan delivery routes – plus, it’s 80 acres.
We will have enough land to finally keep all of our calves and be consistently finishing beef. We also plan to get back into breeding stock for our pastured Berkshire hogs and run them through the 17 acres of woods on the property. We will continue to expand the dairy herd and cut much of our own hay over the next 2-3 seasons.
The family who auctioned it has had the farm since the early 70’s and the husband died unexpectedly in 2015 in his early sixties of a heart attack, and the wife died of cancer in the fall of 2017. Not one of their 5 children have an interest in the land, house or farming, unfortunately.
Dairy farms notoriously do not ever become available for the public to purchase. Generally, once a farmer dies, the widow stays in the house, and rents the land to local crop farmer until she dies at which point the farmer who is renting the ground snaps up the property before anyone else has a chance.
This happens over and over again.
So, when we saw this listing for the auction we knew we would be crazy to not at least entertain pursuing it.
And, within a week of winning the auction, we had made arrangements and sold our current house to a local herd share family without even listing it!
And, we are thrilled to be closer to the family and friends that we’ve spent over a decade commuting to visit – an increasingly difficult task while running a dairy farm and chasing young children.
After over a decade in West Michigan, we are finally MOOving home.
Below are some notes with answers to questions you may have regarding this news! Please read over everything and do not hesitate to contact us with any other questions or concerns.
What this means for…
We will be combining two smaller batches into one batch that is scheduled to head to the butcher mid-June. We plan to sell a few by the half/whole and the rest will be ground into brats for grilling and breakfast sausage. Our next batch won’t be available again until fall so stock your freezer now!
West & Southeast Michigan Deliveries
None of the milk deliveries will be affected by the move to the new farm (beyond the one week while we move) – except the current on-farm pickup folks in Howard City. We will not be continuing a delivery location there. Families can form a drive share to one of our other locations or choose to let the lease expire on their share. You can contact us for more details on this.THANK YOU!
As always, thank you so much for the opportunity to serve you – we are immensely grateful for your business!
-Dan, Whitney, Cecilia, Beau & Baylor