The value of the legacy carried by his family’s seventh generation farm has grown gradually on James Hutchins. While he had always enjoyed doing farm chores, by his senior high school year James decided he wanted to try something else and left home to study heating and plumbing. It soon became clear, he says, “that wasn’t for me,” and he came back to the upstate New York farm first settled by the Hutchins in the late 1800s.
“I have memories of me and my grandfather and my father unloading hay together. It made me very proud. It humbled me,” James says. “I feel the connection between me and the land. My grandfather and his grandfather before him, they all worked the land. It’s just kind of neat to me that for so long there’s been a Hutchins who’s worked this land.”
James runs the farm with his parents Robert and Barbara. Ever since his grandfather swapped out his Holsteins for his neighbor’s herd of Jerseys that’s what the farm has raised. “I’ve milked all different breeds and I’ve been kicked by them all,” James says with a chuckle. The herd is up to about 60 milkers and all the animals go outside on pasture daily. The family crops over 100 acres. A younger cousin, Brent, pitches in as relief-milker and tractor-driver. Barbara keeps the books but, her son says, “she can chop and bale if she needs to.”
Robert and Barbara also raised two daughters who live nearby but have full-time jobs off the farm. “They both work really hard,” James says proudly. “They took the farm work ethic with them.” One of his little nieces likes to help with calves, he says. “I’m a pretty blessed young person I think. Family’s a big thing for me.”
If he pauses to consider it, James admits he’s still a little surprised he ended up back on the farm. “I remember thinking when I was a kid, ‘Why would my dad want to do something that frustrates him?’ when he would be dealing with something difficult on the farm. I get it now. Even when things are tough, there’s still that sense of pride at the end of the day.”
Asked if his parents are happy he came back to join them, James reflects: “My father’s part of that generation that’s quiet. He doesn’t say too much about what he’s thinking. But I know they’re happy. They don’t have to say it.”