Frank and Terry Ziehm raised their three boys, Brian, Eric, and Stuart on the Tiashoke Farm in Buskirk, NY about 40 miles north of Albany. It’s a big operation with about 700 milkers and 625 young stock. All three boys worked and played on the family farm as youngsters, and all three went on to attend Cornell University. Unlike many farm families, however, Frank and Terry kept the boys away from the farm during their college summers. They insisted that the boys work somewhere else, and they wanted them to explore other opportunities and have a chance to pursue other careers if they wanted. None did. All three boys returned to the farm, and they have now taken on management of the spread. Frank still works part time, which is to say about 60 hours a week, but he has transitioned all farm operations to the boys. And that’s the way they do it in the Ziehm family. Frank’s dad turned the farm over to him when he was 27, and now Frank has turned it over to his sons.
The Ziehms are passionate about dairy farming and feel a profound responsibility for their stewardship of the land that provides their livelihood. Frank and Terry dedicated 250 acres to “open space” a few years back, which means the land is restricted and cannot be used for development of any kind. Brian, Eric, and Stuart committed another 300 acres to the same program. The family takes its role as food providers for the country seriously, and they want to make sure the tradition of family farming and land preservation remains a part of our heritage for generations to come. Their commitment to the broader community also extends beyond farming and land stewardship. Frank has been a member of Agri-Mark’s hauling committee for many years, and he has served on the Town Board of Cambridge for three decades.
And it looks like the Ziehm farm is likely to continue its tradition of dairy farming for many years to come. The three boys are all in their 30s, and they’re already teaching the lessons of dairy farming and land management to the next generation. Brian has three sons, Eric has two, and Stuart has a son and the family’s first daughter in over 60 years.
We caught Stuart Ziehm in a rare moment between chores and asked him to answer our Farmer Friday questions. Here are his answers:
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
The best part is that I get to be around my family all the time. We don’t have to wait for the holidays to get together or to see my nephews. I am also excited that my kids are having the same opportunity I did – to grow up on a farm.
What is your family’s favorite meal?
Our kids would choose mac and cheese and we like this recipe, which is quick and really good. But I like anything on the grill with homegrown beef and our family’s cheesy potatoes. But then again, anything with Cabot is good.
We asked Stuart to share that special potato recipe and he was happy to do so.
Our world famous Cheesy Potatoes: a bag of frozen shredded potatoes, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a cup or so of sour cream and a bag of Cabot Cheddar Shreds. Mix together. Pour in a greased baking dish and cook at 350º-375º for 40 minutes. It’s delicious and a family favorite.
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Trying to figure out why there is no “juice” in the fence. It drives me crazy!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
It’s a close tie between spring and fall. Spring – because I like to plant corn and watch it grow all summer. Fall – because there’s nothing better than fall foliage and a good harvest.
What is the one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
It’s hard to explain how grateful we are to be chosen to care for the animals and the land that provides for us. It is hard work, but it is immensely rewarding.