If you ask Cheryl Carson what gets her out of bed each morning, she'll probably tell you it's the three "F's": Family, Farm, and Faith. Family, as in her parents Harold and Joyce, husband Wayne, daughter Winter, sons Gage and Garet, and her sister Cammie and her husband and children. Farm, as in the 1500 acres of farmland near the central Maine coast tended by the extended Larrabee clan. And Faith, as in her appreciation of the path God put before her. "I didn't think I was going to be a farmer," admits Cheryl, who considered a legal career before committing to the family farm. "But God knew if I didn't stay on the farm, it wouldn't be here 20 years from now. We believe the reason we're successful is really because of God's grace."
And while that may be true, it doesn't mean there's not plenty of work to do tending to the farm's 850 head of Holsteins. "If you're not planting in the spring or harvesting in the fall, you're doing building maintenance, repairing equipment, or figuring out your crop rotations," says Cheryl. "It'd be nice if there were five seasons and one was a rest season. Just to be sure the other four seasons that do exist are as full as possible." And as busy as she is, the Larrabees are still able to run an evangelistic program on the farm.
But even amid the day-in, day-out hustle of managing a large dairy operation, Cheryl and her family make time to notice and appreciate the connection to the natural world farming affords. "One of my favorite things about this work is the opportunity to see the beauty in each season," says Cheryl. "It's not something I recognized years ago. But now that I'm working the soil, it's always there."