The small, rural town of Pattersonville, New York is home to Dellavale Farm and its proprietors, Terri Phillips and Tom Nelson. Located on the banks of the Mohawk River, just 12 miles upstream from Schenectady, the dairy farm has been bisected by Interstate 90 since the 1950s. While cars continue to speed past the farm, rushing towards Schenectady, or Albany, or Syracuse, the pace of life on Dellavale remains much slower.
Dellavale Farm has been under the care of the Phillips family for four generations. Claude (Bog) Phillips, Terri's great-grandfather, purchased the original family farmland in 1918. In 1935 her grandparents, Harold (Packy) and Della Mae, took over and in 1970, Terri's parents, Ron and Elma purchased the farm. In 2000, it became the property of Terri and Tom, who were married a year later. Since then, the couple has expanded the crop work, which they rent from nearby farms, and the herd, a mixture of Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, and Short Horn, now numbers 46 milkers.
"I love my cows," says Terri. "If you don't, you shouldn't be a dairy farmer." Terri and Tom breed all of their own animals, and do everything they can to make sure their cows are comfortable and happy. This includes pasturing the animals anytime the weather permits.
Terri and Tom handle most of the milking and crop work, but they also receive help when they need if from family and neighbors. "My two sisters and their children lend a hand when able," says Terri, "and our neighbors are only a phone call away." Terri's sisters are Becca, who has four-year-old Addie and 18-month-old Carter, and Vicki, who has 23-year-old Amanda, 21-year-old Matthew, 17-year-old Erika and 13-year-old Krista. Tom's brother's children also help with crops and chores.
After her family and animals, Terri's other love is working with young farmers. For the last six years, the couple has been involved with the agricultural program at John Bowne High School in New York City. Since they started working with the school, Dellavale Farm has taken in eight junior and senior year students, who spend a summer living on the farm and working with the animals. "The students, most of which have never been on a working dairy farm or even close to a cow, have the opportunity to venture from the city and spend some time on a real farm. Working here, they are able to formulate a much better idea of what it is like to run a farm." Most of the students go on to continue their education at SUNY Cobleskill after graduation.
Even more important to the couple than their work with John Browne HS is their involvement with the 4-H youth development organization, which her family has been members of since the 1950s. Her parents met in the Montgomery County 4-H while in high school, and she began participating in the organization as a child. "I've been volunteering with 4-H all of my life," says Terri. "As a kid, I used to love showing cows, and today we sponsor a few kids every year who help out on the farm while learning to care for their adopted animals. It's a great way to introduce young people to farm life and for them to develop an early relationship with the animals."
Terri and Tom are active in the community and hold positions on several agricultural organizations, such as, Montgomery County Farm Bureau and the American Dairy Association and Dairy Council.
Follow Us: Facebook