Brad Davis and his father Andrew run the Davis Dairy Farm in Sterling Connecticut, and it has quite a history. The Davis family has owned land and been actively farming in Connecticut since 1632. When the Davis family finds a good thing, they stick to it. Andy Davis Sr., Brad's dad, bought this farm in 1969 and has spent the past four decades building it from scratch to its current state of about 145 milking cows and 140 young stock.
When Andy Sr. purchased the farm in 1969, Brad was five years old. He has been working there ever since and now manages the operation. Brad's brother Andy Jr. also works full-time on the farm and helps run the spread. Brad and Andy Jr. each have a son and daughter, and Brad's son expects to return to work on the farm once he retires from the Air Force. Their many grandchildren are frequent visitors, and they love to feed the calves, help out with milking, and fish in the river that circles the farm.
It's hard to make a living in dairy farming, and it's almost impossible when milk prices bounce along the bottom. Like many farmers, the Davis family does a little something on the side, and it makes a big difference. They have a roadside stand where they sell compost, eggs, fruits, berries, and vegetables in season. Their farm and their stand are a favorite of the community, and on most mornings you will find a cluster of town residents making purchases at the stand or sharing coffee with the family in the early morning. These neighbors and friends, however, do more than socialize. They pitch in during haying season, and they always run to help during an emergency or when times are tough.
Dairy farming is a source of community pride in Sterling, and in 1986 when the area was suffering a severe drought and had not seen rain for three months, friends and neighbors came to the farm every day to help save the crops. They installed temporary piping and moved sprinkler heads day after day and irrigated the crops with water from the river bordering the property. Without their help, the farm would have lost all its crops. Says Brad, "The town is always there when we need them in times of crisis. They feel like they have a stake in our operation, and nobody has to ask them for help. Adults and kids alike just show up and lend a hand. That's what local dairy farming is all about, and that's one reason we love the business we're in."