Coon Brothers Farm in Amenia, NY sits on 200 acres of precious land. The Coons rent about 1,800 additional acres, and Peter and his brother Dave, assorted family members and the loyal farm hands manage the operation. The Coon familiy milks about 350 cows and also care for 250 young stock, and they raise a variety of crops on the side. The cows are mostly Holsteins, but they have about 200 Guernseys as well.
When you speak with Peter, you get the feeling of quiet confidence. He just knows what he's doing. "We love the life and the work. But this is a business too, and you have to plan for everything" says Peter. "We want everybody to know what they're supposed to do when they get here each day, and we like to go about our business without fuss or fanfare." And apparently it works because Dave and Peter have raised their families on the farm. After a tour in the Marines, Peter's son, Isaac, now works there full time, and all the family members lend a hand when not in college or serving a tour of duty.
The farm workers seem to like it as well since most of them are like family and have been there for decades. And as with most dairy farms, the day starts before dawn and ends sometime after sunset. Milk the cows first thing paying extra attention to the "special needs" group. That's the group that just had a calf, or may be feeling out of sorts, or just may not be eating properly. The herdsman checks each cow individually every day, and he, David, and Peter have developed a sixth sense to know if something is wrong. Tend the crops, bale the hay, fix the tractor, milk the cows again, and plan for the unexpected. Each time a task gets crossed off the list, two more are added. And since Peter and David are so business minded, they manage to even out the fluctuations of the milk market by selling some corn, wheat, and hay on the side. When one commodity is down, the other seems to be up, and this helps them keep things on an even keel.
And when asked what matters above all else, Peter thoughtfully responds: "Quality and reputation. People have to know they are getting the best product possible from us. That and making sure the farm is viable for the next generation. Our milk has to meet the highest standards for Cabot," says Peter "and they have to know we take every precaution to keep the herd healthy and our milk safe." Well, that philosophy has worked for over half a century, and there's no reason to change now.
Follow Us: Facebook