Jack and Tina Douglas run the Douglas Farm in Ilion, New York, and they have a lot of help. Their oldest son Bobby, who studied agriculture and mechanics, helps in every phase of the farm, but his preference is to work with the crops. Their next child Hannah, does most of the milking during the summers and helps with milking and other chores throughout the school year. Joshua, the youngest, helps feed the heifers, clean the barn, and most importantly, he takes full responsibility for the goats. Tina works full-time for a law firm in Cooperstown, NY, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and she also milks the cows and pitches in whenever needed. For the Douglases, dairy farming is a family affair and a matter of tradition.
For both Jack and Tina, dairy farming goes back at least four generations. Before taking to dairy farming full-time, however, Jack worked as a mechanic and a carpenter. These are great skills to have on a farm. Says Tina, "Jack can build anything. He just envisions it in his mind, and he knows what to do. It's a remarkable talent."
Both Tina and Jack wanted to raise their family on the farm. The family tradition and the call of the land were just too much for them to resist. After selling their family homestead in 2004 because they needed more tillable land, the Douglases purchased their current farm in 2006. They haven't looked back since. They are currently building their herd back up to about 70 milkers, have about 70 young stock, and farm 200 acres of hay and corn. They don't use the hay on the farm, but rather sell to other local farmers.
For Jack, working side-by-side with his wife and his three children is the greatest pleasure of dairy farming. "It's a joy to raise the kids on the farm," says Jack. "I get to discuss crop management with Bobby, talk about milking and herd health with Hannah, and watch Joshua learn more and more about dairy farming every day. It's a joy to see the youngsters take the lessons of land stewardship and conservation to heart. It was a great life for Tina and me growing up, and Tina and I are grateful to offer the same opportunity to our kids."