Country Cousins Farm, a short distance from Lake Ontario in Evans Mills, NY, is under the care of first-generation farmers Stan and Sharon Horning. They and their children have tended to the farm and their herd of 100 Holsteins since 1993.
Stan, though not an upstate New York native, grew up in a strong farming community. As a kid, he loved visiting and helping out on his grandfather's farm in Lancaster, PA. After graduating from high school, he took a job in construction, but when work dried up, he decided to try his hand at farming, taking a full-time job on his uncle Clinton's farm. During that time, he met Sharon and got married, and after a few years, got the itch to purchase land of his own. In 1990, he found a farmer in Lebanon, PA who let him buy a few cows, and he began growing his own stock. In 1993, with less than 20 Holsteins to his name, he moved to Evans Mills, NY. With the help of his grandfather, he began renting a farm and bought more Holsteins, and after three years, he acquired what has become Country Cousins Farm. 20 years later - in March of 2013 - the Hornings joined the Agri-Mark family.
Country Cousins is truly a family operation, relying solely - except for a part-time teenager or two in the summer - on their immediate family to take care of their 55 milker operation. Stan and Sharon have four children: Angela and Ryan who have each gotten married and moved off the farm; Jennilea, who will soon complete her Elementary Education Degree; and Derek, who has developed a passion for farming and has decided to stay and work with his family. Stan handles the majority of the field work on the farm's 200 tillable acres in addition to the morning milking. Derek - and his siblings, from time to time - handle the evening milking and help out with the field work. Sharon does most of the feeding.
In addition to their dairy operation, the Hornings have also recently decided to open the farm to guests for day trips and overnight stays, where they can join the family for milkings and feedings, or just sit back and enjoy a relaxing, peaceful vacation and home-cooked meals. "We love the farm life," says Stan. "There isn't much I find more rewarding than seeing our animals and crops grow, responding to the care we give them. While there's a lot of hard work and stress that come with the job, seeing what comes from your labor makes it all worthwhile."