Al Desormeaux and his son Daniel run the Desormeaux Dairy Farm in Gouverneur, New York, and they've been partners for over a decade. Al and his wife Theresa bought the farm shortly after they married in 1952, and they have been working it ever since. They milked 20 cows when they first started, and Al worked as a machinist for five years before building the farm up to the point where he could manage it full time. They haven't looked back since.
Al and Daniel have 90 milkers and 85 young stock, and they grow about 160 acres or corn and hay silage. What they don't use on the farm, they sell to other farmers in the area. Theresa has worked side-by-side with Al over the years, and she helps in the milk room and does the bookkeeping. Daniel does most of the crop work and handles equipment maintenance. Al takes care of the heifers and does most of the farm chores.
Al and Theresa raised seven children on the farm, six daughters and their son Daniel. Everybody had chores to do from their earliest years, and they all pitched in to make the farm work. Only Daniel remained in the dairy industry. Says Al, "The farm is a great place to raise a family. All the kids helped with milking, planting and harvesting crops, and feeding the heifers. They all developed a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in what they do. Theresa and I loved every minute of it, and now it's a joy when we get to see our 14 grand children and 6 great grand children spend time here. They're spread out from Albany to Phoenix, but they visit often and get a chance learn a little something about farming when they do. I don't push the matter, but I hope some of them take a deeper interest and want to pursue this as a career."
Al was "green" long before it was cool, and he always emphasized conservation principles on his farm. In 1968 he was honored as "conservation farmer of the year" for St. Lawrence County. There were about 600 dairy farms in the county at the time, so this was a great distinction. Even back then, Al was digging out and tiling drainage ditches to prevent water runoff to roads and neighboring properties, using state-of-the-art tillage practices, planting cover crops, and thinning out the trees regularly on his wooded lot. Says Al, "It just makes good sense. We don't have that many dairy farms, and we want the ones we do have to be around for a long, long time. Mine included."