The Wheeler Family has been dairy farming in the beautiful Southern Vermont town of Wilmington since 1930. The current family members involved on the farm are Henry Wheeler, his sons John & Rob and Rob’s wife Karen.
The Wheelers are very active within their Cooperative and in their community. They often open their doors to the public for farm tours, including each of the three Cabot Open Farm Sunday events. Rob serves as one of our 14 dairy farmers on the Board of Directors, helping to guide the future of the Co-op’s future. He is also an advisor to our Young Cooperator’s group, which is a program provided to our young farmers to prepare them to be current & future leaders within their cooperative.You'll find everything from a farm tour to friendly farmers at Wheeler Farm in #VT. #FarmFriday via @cabotcheese Click To Tweet
The Wheelers own 350 acres on the east-side of the Green Mountains. Like many Northeast dairy farms, they are a small diversified family farm, working to make the best use of the resources the farm provides. They are grass based, which means they pasture when the weather allows and feed their herd haylage and round baled hay when it does not.
The Wheelers milk 60 Jersey Cows and have about 100 head total. When asked why they milk Jerseys, Rob recalls his grandfather’s standard response, “We’re too poor to own Holsteins, and too proud to milk goats.”
The farm also provides a hillside of Sugar Maples that the Wheelers tap each March to produce maple syrup to sell at their roadside stand, along with Cabot Cheese, vegetables grown by Karen and a few other products. Running the roadside stand also affords Karen some time to produce hand-woven goods. She even gets to show off her Cabot colors from time-to-time, making hand-woven scarves in the iconic Cabot Plaid.
This week, we thank Rob Wheeler for taking the time to sit down and answer our #FarmerFriday questions:
What is our favorite thing about being a dairy farm family?
While most of our family is not involved daily on our farm, they all live close by (including my four brothers and two sisters), so there is daily interaction with most of them. We also get a big kick out of the variety that is offered with what we do. It can be as simple as the changing seasons and what each offers, to as diverse as being an animal care giver, carpenter, electrician, plumber, truck driver, machine operator, laborer, sales person, promoter, advocate, teacher, bookkeeper and manager all in the same day! Today is truly different and unique from yesterday and you find yourself looking forward to what tomorrow will bring.
How many generations of our family have been on the farm?
My brother John, wife Karen and I make up the third generation.
What is our favorite meal?
What is our least favorite farm chore?
Sweeping down cobwebs, that’s a nasty job!
What is our favorite time of year?
I would have to say May through October. We really enjoy the summers, we love seeing our cows out on pasture and being able to work outside in warm temperatures. There is lots to do and lots of energy to get things done!
What is the most rewarding part about being an Agri-Mark Director?
I would say coming home from a Board of Directors meeting pumped up about all that we do as Cabot, as farmers, as industry leaders in a global marketplace, convinced we have the best people working on all member owners behalf. They take all our hard work and make it something truly special. We should all be proud of that!
What is the one thing we would like people who have never experienced farm life to know?
Yes its hard work, yes it’s long hours, yes there is less monetary compensation, but it is sooooo worth it! What a place to live, grow up, learn, become productive members of our community and be responsible for helping to feed the world, all the while ensuring we leave our legacies, our farms, to the future at least as well as when we arrived!
Click here to watch the interview with Rob Wheeler!
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