From running an agricultural museum to raising meat goats, the Staebner family might win the prize for the most diverse dairy farming operation. Three generations work together across the variety of enterprises: Ernie and Sandy; their sons Craig and Jeff; along with Craig’s wife, Anne, and their grown sons, Matt and Hale. Blue Slope goes back another generation to 1940 when Matt and Hale’s great-grandparents, Alfred and Vivian, originally purchased the farm.
Beyond their core dairy business, the Staebners produce humanely-raised veal, goat meat and maple syrup. They are lucky to be close to Yale University and a thriving farmers’ market through which they can sell their wares. The family also hauls agricultural products including milk, grain, sawdust, compost and hay throughout the state and beyond. Everyone takes charge of certain areas—though, Hale Staebner jokes, “It seems like if there’s a job no one wants to do, then it usually ends up on my list.”
The family’s collection of antique farm tools dates back beyond the earliest days of Blue Slope and the museum they have built around it attracts several thousand visitors a year, from school groups to seniors. The farm’s four Belgian draft horses often provide wagon rides for the visiting groups. The nonprofit museum’s mission is to preserve and share past agricultural practices and lifestyles to help positively impact future decisions in agriculture. The family also hosts regular square dances and campfires with singing and marshmallows. “There’s more to life than work,” says Hale.