Ashley Howlett, who will enter her junior year at Cornell University in the fall, is majoring in Animal Science with a focus in Dairy. She is the oldest of Julie and Tim Howlett’s five daughters, and may be the only one of the five who plans to make dairy farming her life’s work. A fourth generation farmer, Ashley will spend the summer in Iowa where she will be interning to learn more about the dairy industry and how it varies across the U.S.
Champlainside Farm is located in a place of unsurpassed beauty on the shores of Lake Champlain in Bridport, Vermont. Six hundred milking cows produce 42,000 pounds of milk every day at the farm, founded by Ashley’s great-grandfather in 1947. Today, three generations of Howletts work side-by-side 365 days a year to guarantee the success and future of their beloved farm.
Ashley took time out from a very busy schedule, including springtime fieldwork and packing for her summer internship, to answer our Farmer Friday Questions.
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
My favorite thing is that I’m able to learn a lot from my Dad, Grandma, and Grandpa. When I was little I was able to tag along and I always had questions. I began doing small odd jobs like picking up nails when we were building a barn or shredding paper. I also kept records of post-partum cow treatments and calculated costs. When I was 13, I began mowing in the summer, a job my Grandma normally does. I’ve been to a lot of business meetings with my Dad recently and have learned more about the business side of things. Most kids can’t say they get to work with their parents on a daily basis! I am the oldest of five daughters and am the only one who has shown sincere interest in owning the family farm someday.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Can you share a recipe?
Our family’s favorite meal is Ham and Potato Casserole. Here is the recipe:
1 package of cubed hash browns
1 cup Cabot sour cream
1 package of cubed ham (1 lb)
2 cans of Cream of Chicken Soup
3 cups of Cabot shredded cheddar cheese
Thaw the hash browns then mix all the ingredients together. Bake at 350 for an hour or until potatoes are fully cooked. Serves 6 people
What is you least favorite farm chore?
My least favorite farm chore is picking rocks. Every spring we usually have a few fields we have to drive around and manually pick up rocks. It’s a lot of work but its paid exercise!
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
My favorite time of year is the summer! I love the smell of fresh cut grass and the sound of jake brakes on our feed trucks. It can be very hot if you have the unfortunate luck of running equipment without a/c but I’m able to tan (or burn) and work at the same time. I haven’t done much field work in the past year because I’ve been learning more about herd work from our herd manager but, summer is always the busiest time of year. I love being a part of a team all working together to achieve a common goal; making the farm as successful as possible.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
We work hard every day to make sure our animals are fed the right diet, given immediate attention to any health concerns, and be the best environmental stewards we can be. Living on the lake means we have to be careful on how much manure is spread on each field and that we are not causing runoff issues. I also want you all to know that we take pride in having our milk be manufactured into the Cabot products we all love. Good quality dairy products come from good quality milk!