Blue Slope Farm
North Franklin, CT
Farming is truly a family affair for the Staebner’s of Blue Slope Farm in North Franklin, Connecticut. Three generations – Matt, his father Craig, and his grandfather Ernest – manage 130 milking cows and 120 young stock on 585 beautiful acres. The Staebner’s are waiting for Matt’s brother Hale and sister Rebecca to graduate from college, after which they’ll join in the family business as well. Matt’s mom Anne and his grandmother Sandy, who pitch in every day, are the glue that holds it all together.
While dairy farming is the Staebners main occupation they have several other income streams from the farm. They sell goat meat and other free-range meats at the Yale University farmers’ market and to select retailers around eastern Connecticut. They have a successful trucking business that carries grain, sawdust, compost, hay and other ag-related products throughout the state and beyond. The Staebners have also created a museum of agriculture and history as part of their farm operation. More than 2200 visitors come each year, including school groups from around the area.
No day is ever the same for the Staebners, but some are more difficult than others. A few summers ago a barn filled with valuable equipment and hay burned to the ground. They lost all this at the height of the season. But they took it all in stride, covered their new grain with tarps for temporary protection, and went about building a new facility. As Matt says, “Every farm faces challenges. This was just ours for that summer.”
All the members of the Staebner family are long standing members and supporters of the 4-H Club in New London County, as well as the state of Connecticut. They are also involved in broader dairy, county, and state affairs, and are active in the New London County Farm Bureau, the Connecticut Farm Bureau, and the 4-H Extension Council for New London County. They know that dairy farming doesn’t stop at their property line, and they make sure to add their voices and energy to support the industry and preserve open spaces wherever they can.
If you’d like to visit the Staebners, their farm & museum will be open to the public for their Annual Agricultural Day on October 4th and 5th. There will be much to see and do, including: horse-drawn wagon rides, pie eating contests, cow milking and animal parade, spinning, weaving, blacksmithing and more. For more information, visit: http://www.blueslope.com/fallevent.html
Hale Staebner is representing his extended family in answering our Farmer Friday questions. Thanks, Hale!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
Having a dairy farm gives our family the ability to work together. We always know that our teammates have our back. Since the farm is an extension of our family, we are always willing to help each other to keep things flowing smoothly.
What is your family’s favorite meal?
Home made beef strew with glazed carrots and Grandma’s Pistachio Salad made with Cabot cottage cheese for dessert.
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Putting tires on the pile. You end up smelling worse than when you spread manure. But it gives you the incentive to find a better way.
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
We love autumn here in Connecticut. Our family and employees love chopping corn, seeing the leaves change color and watching the deer glean the fields in the early morning.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
The one thing we wish the American public knew is that the cost of production of dairy products is very high. We work hard and make significant investments to produce high quality products. We’re very grateful to those who support the farms within their communities and hope they will continue to support us in the grocery stores, even if it means paying a bit more for something locally produced. We find that consumers are happier with the quality of locally produced products, and hope all the hard work we put into producing them make the extra dollars and cents well worth it.
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