David and Margaret Hanson own the Hanson Farm in Brookfield, Massachusetts. They have 220 acres, 60 milking cows, and some 45 young stock. The farm has been in the Hanson family for five generations, since 1912. David was raised on the farm and has been milking cows since his early teens. Margaret married into dairy farming, and she loves it to her core. They raised their three children on the farm and are proud of all that the land and dairy farming has taught them.
The children have all helped with chores, learned responsibility early on, and developed a lasting love for the environment.
The Hansons open their farm to all comers, and they celebrate "Spring Fling" each April. This is an annual event on the Hanson Farm where friends and neighbors come from miles around to witness the ritual opening of the barn doors. After a long, hard winter, the cattle are feisty and anxious to get back in the fields; they smell spring in the air. The Hansons make it all a community event and as many as 200 people come to share coffee and baked goods on the lawn as David flings open the barn doors and releases the cows to the fields for the first time. Spectators see the glee and feel the joy of the cows as they rush out and luxuriate in the open fields. And while the event lasts only a few minutes, people remember it for a lifetime and come back year after year to participate.
Of course, no day is ever the same on the farm, and every once in a while some of the cattle will find a way to wander off the property. This doesn't happen often, but the neighbors love it when it does. They gather a posse together to find the renegades and herd them back to the farm. One neighbor, in fact, often comments on how much fun this is and how he always looks forward to it whenever it occurs.
Dairy farming, of course, is mostly hard work and long hours. In fact, says Margaret: "We have had perhaps two vacations in the past twenty years. That just goes with the territory, and if you're in this business, it's more than a part-time commitment." And the Hansons' commitment goes beyond the farm. David is also an appointed official serving on the Massachusetts Dairy Product Promotions Board and works to help publicize the industry and inform people about the importance of dairy products to a nutritious and healthy life style.