Joanna Lidback, The Farm at Wheeler Mountain
Adam Lidback established The Farm at Wheeler Mountain in 2008, though the farm has been in his family for many years. Adam’s grandfather, Millard Stevens and his brother Hiram purchased the farm along with the neighboring farm in the first part of the twentieth century. They were a typical diversified farm of the area, with cows, workhorses, chickens and other critters. They also had a maple operation and later on, a sawmill.
The farm passed through family members until 2008, when Adam came back to become a full time farmer. He started milking 12 cows. As fate would have it shortly after he started milking cows, he and Joanna Samuelson began dating. Joanna happened to have a small herd of Jersey cattle, a leftover 4-H project from 1982 that she just couldn’t let go of. Eventually, Joanna’s Jerseys made their way up to Adam’s farm, boosting the milking herd by one-third.
It didn’t take long for Adam and Joanna to realize that their paths had coincided for a reason. Shortly after the cows moved north of the border, her dogs moved north too. Finally in November 2010, Adam and Joanna tied the knot, officially bringing Joanna north too. Their son, Thomas (TK), joined the family in August 2011. Next came Eli (Baby E) in March 2013, bringing even more joy to this beautiful place each day.
Joanna took time out from a busy spring day on the farm to answer our Farmer Friday questions. Thanks, Joanna!
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
We love that we are raising our two sons on the dairy farm. We can pass on our love for the cows and farming to the boys. They get to witness and do things on a daily basis that are really special – whether it be the birth of a calf or a ride in one of the tractors or running clear across a pasture to the other side, there are so many things they will experience that are unique to living on a farm. They will also learn about hard work and having the responsibility to care for another life or many lives, as well as for the land around them.
What is your family’s favorite meal?
One of our favorite meals is homemade pizza! Well, we actually buy pre-made dough at the grocery store and add our own toppings: tomato sauce, Cabot cheddar shredded cheese, our home-raised jersey beef ground beef, and veggies – onions, green peppers, mushrooms – whatever we have on hand! Our boys love it and it makes for a quick lunch on the run the next day (which is usually the case around here!).
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Adam is always talking about this least favorite farm chore of his when it comes around: covering the silage (an ingredient for the cattle feed) bunk pile with plastic and spreading tires over it. It’s usually hot out, the tires are dirty, heavy, and it’s back-breaking work throwing them over the pile. And you have to throw a lot of them! The tires should touch and completely cover the plastic that is on top of the feed. By the time he finishes, he’s ready for a break (and a shower!) This year I should count how many tires end up being on top of the plastic.
My least favorite farm chore is cleaning out drains. Your kitchen sink is one thing; the barn floor is another. BLAH!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Our favorite time of the year is any time but winter! There is something about each season that makes us look forward to it – Spring is the greening and warming up that happens around us; a welcome break from the dreariness of winter. Summer with its warm weather and long days makes for a perfect backdrop to get lots of stuff done and enjoy being outdoors with each other. In the fall, the crisp cool air lets us know the busy cropping season is winding down and of course the changing foliage colors are beautiful up here.
We would like non-farmers to better understand the responsibility we chose to take on as dairy farmers to our cows and the farm. Behind every gallon of milk bought at the store are people like us who are on the hook 365 days each year to make sure the animals get fed and the cows are milked at least twice a day. If it’s not us to do it, we have to make sure we hire good people to do it for us and if they don’t show up, it falls back to us to get the job done. And if we’re making such a big commitment, we’re going to do the best we can for the animals, land and others around us because again, the accountability stops with us. In the end, we hope to have a viable, sustainable business and way of life to pass on to our next generation.