Jamie and Heather Robertson own the Bohanan Farm in Contoocook , New Hampshire, which is named "Bohanan" because it came down through Heather's family. Heather's great grandfather purchased the property in 1907, and the family has been actively dairy farming ever since. They have 450 tillable acres, on which they grow about 150 acres of corn and 300 of grass. They have 240 milkers, 200 young stock, and three rivers running through the property. Their three full-time employees have been with them for years, and the Robertsons have five other people providing part time help.
The Bohanan farm is in its fourth generation, and with the help the Robertsons get from their teenage sons, Si, Nate, and Bram, it seems likely to move into the fifth at some time in the future. All three boys help with milking, barn chores, and feeding the calves in between school work and other activities. Preserving the land and open spaces in the community is vitally important to the Robertsons. In fact, they recently decided to sell the development rights on the property so that the land will remain an open space for years to come and not be available for commercial development. The Robertsons milk their cattle three times a day instead of the more standard two. Says Jamie: "In our experience, this results in better milk production and more relief for the cows. They seem to like it, and even though it's a bit more work, we get a better product as a result." And it turns out that milking three times is also a good thing for the community. Since they do their second milking around 1:00 in the afternoon, school groups and even passer-by can watch them and learn a thing or two about dairy farming. And like so many other farm families, the Robertsons are gracious hosts. They often have hunters, hikers, and people with canoes and rafts on the property. "It's all part of preserving open spaces and making a contribution to the community at large," says Jamie.