Visitors driving down Canaan Valley Road might notice a small, white sign displaying hand-painted letters and a portrait of a Holstein. According to the sign, the property – neatly tucked in the northwest corner of Connecticut, just a few miles south of Sheffield, Massachusetts – goes by the name Carlwood Farm and is under the care of Douglas J. Carlson and Sandy Boardman. If those visitors decide to pull over and chat with Doug, they’ll learn that on this farm there is a special emphasis on family.
The Carlsons trace their American farming roots to Doug’s grandfather, who immigrated from Sweden, and purchased land near Canaan in the early 20th century. Eventually Doug’s father would purchase his own plot, which was to become Carlwood farm. At the time, it consisted of a single acre. In 1962, when Douglas was just 16, his father passed away, and he took over the operation, helped by his mother Isabelle. Along with Crystalle, his wife of 51 years, he managed to grow and expand the farm. Now, he shares care of Carlwood Farm with his daughter, Sandy, who works closely with him overseeing every aspect of the business.
Happy #FarmerFriday! Carlwood Farm is under the care of the Carlson Family, 1 of our 1200 farm families. Read more: http://ow.ly/GltyR
“I am so thankful to have Sandy working with me day in and day out,” says Doug. “I couldn’t manage it all on my own.”
Though the farm started out with only one tillable acre and a herd of 20 cows, over the years Carlwood has grown. The farm now consists of 200 acres, and has more than 50 registered Holstein milkers, along with a handful of Jerseys that belong to his grandchildren.
“We produce good, clean milk every single day,” remarks Doug. “I’m extremely proud of that. Our facilities are not the most modern, but that doesn’t matter. We’ve won quality awards from Agri-Mark 14 out of the last 15 years. Consistently producing great milk is what’s important. And family.”
In addition to Sandy, Doug and Cris have four other children, 6 grandchildren and one great-grandson. As a man who has worked hard since he was 16, he counts as one of his greatest achievements the fact that all five of their children – along with two of their grandchildren – are college graduates. “We never had much money, and still don’t, but through our church, the FFA, and 4-H, all of our kids were able to go to college,” says Doug.
Sandy married the milk truck driver, Rick, who now drives for his sister and brother-in-law locally at RJ Beham Forest Products and helps with crops at the farm. Their daughter, Sheri, has her Masters degree from Cornell and is an Ag Ed teacher in the community. Their daughter, Rene, is a senior at SUNY Coblskill majoring in Dairy Science. Rene is currently working at Arethusa Farm Creamery in Bantam, CT which will fulfilll her internship requirement to finish her degree. Their son, Ricky, is now a senior in high school and is very active in 4-H and FFA. Ricky has really taken an interest in the crops on the farm and enjoys making hay of his own and can be found milking on most Sundays so Mom can have a day off.
An active member of the community, Doug was on the Republican Town Committee, where he served as chairman for eight years. He also served on the Board of Tax Review and is a delegate to the National Holstein Convention representing Connecticut.
But what Doug is most passionate about, other than his children, grandchildren, and great grandson, is his work with FFA and 4-H. Known for his golden voice, which he lends to a number of local fairs, he volunteers as a 4-H leader, is a life member of the National FFA Alumni, and has been involved with the organizations ever since he was a kid. “I love working with children,” continues Doug. “Seeing their passion for agriculture and the animals is inspiring. Sandy and I participate in a lease program where the kids come by and help take care of the animals in return for showing calves at our local fairs with 4-H. I want to help show young people just what farming and family are all about.”
Sandy Boardman and her girls took the time to answer the following questions:
What is your favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
Besides being an extremely proud owner of Cabot, I am thankful to be a farm family that has allowed me to raise my children on a farm, where they were with me before and after school and throughout their summer vacations. I (Sandy) am also glad my parents were able to raise me and our family on the family farm. On a different note, a huge sense of farm families come from being involved in 4-H, FFA, and Agri-Mark. We have met great people who have become family to us in our industry.
What is your family’s favorite meal? Care to share a recipe?
Most of us agree that our favorite meal is Thanksgiving, with all the fixings.
Here is a favorite recipe: “Corn Chowder”
2 cups corn
½ cup (~6 strips) Cooked Bacon
4 cups of potatoes (Diced small)
2 Tbs. Corn Starch
1 slice of onion
2 cups Half & Half
1 cup Milk
3 Tbs. Cabot Butter
Makes: 6-8 Servings
Directions: Fry Bacon, save some grease. Saute onions in bacon grease. Drain grease after cooking. Parboil the potatoes 10 minutes. Add all ingredients (minus the corn starch) together, bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Add corn starch (for thickening) and salt & pepper (to your liking) and then simmer for 10 minutes.
What is your least favorite farm chore?
Picking rocks, fixing fences, and covering the trench are some of our least favorite jobs.
What is your favorite time of year on the farm?
Our favorite times of year are spring and late summer. When the first baby corn pops out of the ground and when first cutting is laid down. Late summer means it is fair season. We get to visit with fellow farmers and friends, and meet up with neighbors we don’t get to visit with often. The second best part of late summer is corn harvest. The whole family chips in to help chop, drive trucks, pack stack, make lunches or dinner for those of us in the field. It is definitely a family tradition, right down to laying the last tire on the plastic.
What is one thing you would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
That every cow is a lady and is treated like one. They get regular pedicures, checkups and receive a balanced diet, from our dairy nutritionist, better than most humans. They lay in clean dry stalls, have free choice water, and their meals are served to them daily.