Dean and Claudette Hook run Hook Dairy Farm in Brunswick, VT, which sits on the Connecticut River near the New Hampshire border. It's a family affair because Dean took over the farm from his father Ken in 1987, although Ken is still active helping out every day. Dean was raised on the farm and grew up there with his sister. Dean and Claudette raised their own two children on the farm and their son Daniel, who said he never really liked it as a youngster, couldn't resist the calling and has now returned to work there full time.
Work on a dairy farm never stops, and some projects take longer than others. The Hooks have an old sawmill on the farm, and they are all handy carpenters. Especially Dean. A few years back, the Hooks realized they needed to replace their old barn. They milled their own lumber, installed the foundation, framed the barn, installed the rafters, and built themselves a huge new barn for their herd of 200. The job took three years to complete because, well, they had a business to run, crops to crow, and a herd to manage in the meantime. The old barn now houses young stock and provides a storage area for hay and grain. The new barn stands as a testament to the can-do spirit of New England farmers.
Farm work, of course, never stops, but that doesn’t mean the Hooks can’t do other things. Last October the family purchased a restaurant greatly in need of repair and rejuvenation. They spent three months sprucing it up and opened the doors of a 33-seat restaurant this past January. Claudette spends most of her time there running the show, and she seems to just take it all in stride. “Running a farm is tough work with long hours,” says Claudette. “Milk prices go up and down, and it’s good to have something else to rely on during down cycles. That’s what the restaurant is all about. It’s a great new venture for the family, and I have high hopes for it.”
Like so many farm families, the Hooks are always willing to open their barn doors to all comers. They had a vet student working there for several years who did projects for his school on the farm, and, of course, you will periodically see a class of elementary school kids roaming the property on the odd afternoon learning all the steps it takes to get milk from the cows on the farm to the refrigerators in their kitchens.