Bob and Melanie Swenson purchased the Swenson Farm in 1981, although they had already been working a different dairy farm for about five years before that. They have 50 milkers, 45 young stock, and about 50 acres of corn and 75 of hay. Their herd is comprised of all registered Holsteins, and they generally sell a few heifers every year. In fact, six of their Holsteins found their way to China a few years back, which was an exciting event for the farm.
The Swensons’ two adult children, now in their 30s, helped out on the farm throughout their youth. They have followed a different path, but are still on the farm as often as possible, and the Swensons’ grandson loves to feed the calves and help in the barn with his grandparents. Melanie says, “I think it was wonderful to raise our children on the farm. We all pitched in, and my son and daughter learned many life lessons that will serve them well for all their lives. They have a great work ethic, they enjoy the land and the animals, and they have a profound appreciation for farming.”
Bob and Melanie do everything on the farm themselves, and the days are long. They are up at 3:30 and usually finish around 6:00 each evening. As Melanie says, “You have to put the hours in at one end of the day or the other. We just like to start early.” But they still find time for other things. Along the way they have volunteered on Fairlee’s fire department and were involved with school administration. They also sell a little sweet corn on the side. While their home is off the beaten path, Bob and Melanie have built up a loyal group of clients over the years. Many of them come by to purchase the sweet corn and visit the Swensons’ two pet alpacas. This is a unique attraction for any dairy farm, and many customers seem unable to resist them.