Paul and Diane Miller run the Fairvue Farm in Woodstock, Connecticut. It's a big spread with 800 milking cows, 800 young stock, and 18 full-time employees, but it wasn't always that way. Paul's dad passed away when Paul was 16 and still in high school. At that time, Paul already knew he wanted to be a dairy farmer, and he convinced his mom to purchase some land in Woodstock. Paul was off and running with a herd of twenty cows on the farm. He met Diane while working with the Grange, and they married soon thereafter and raised their two children on the farm. Paul and Diane's son David is now a partner in the farm and their daughter Barbara works in the local school system.
For the Millers, dairy farming is a family affair, and their six grandchildren are regular visitors and pitch in where they can. Over the years, the Millers have survived barn fires, barn collapses, and wildly fluctuating milk prices. Throughout it all, they have continued to modernize and eventually build their farm to the 1,600 head of cattle they manage today.
Paul is quick to tell you that a healthy, happy cow produces the best product, and he does everything he can to make life comfortable for the herd. Their primary barn has screened sides to let air in and a bank of fans to provide constant circulation to combat the heat. They pasture the cattle several months a year and milk them three times a day as a mother would feed her calf. The cows even have mattress bedding.
And all this attention to detail and cow health pays off. In 1996 the Fairvue Farm received the Green Pasture Award given to only one farm in each state for excellence in all phases of dairy farming. In 2010, they earned Agri-Mark's High Quality Milk Award, another tribute to the quality of their milk and the management of their farm.
Milk prices often swing wildly from high to low in the dairy industry, and the Millers have teamed up with five other dairy farms in Connecticut to create the Farmers Cow, a business where local farmers produce and market their milk under their own label. This helps even out the rise and fall of milk prices, and it lets the local population purchase products knowing they came from their own local farmers. This band of dairy farmers now has their products in 300 stores, and the future is looking brighter all the time. Says Paul, "This is a great way to keep people in the area informed about dairy farming, and it provides a small safety net for the farmers when prices drop dramatically as they did a couple of years ago."
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