Cricket Jacquier, his brother Bobby, and their dad Peter run the Laurelbrook Farm in East Canaan, Connecticut. It's a large operation with 980 milking cows and 975 young stock, but for all its size, everything about the farm says "family." The Jacquiers grow 1,500 acres of corn silage and 1,000 acres of alfalfa and grass haylage, and they use every bit of it. Everybody pitches in to make it all happen because, after all, it's a family tradition.
Robert and Dorothy originally purchased the farm shortly after World War II, and Peter grew up milking cows, planting and harvesting crops, and working with his parents. Peter and his wife Jean raised their two sons, Cricket and Bobby, on the farm, and they were milking cows before they could walk. The farm is now moving into its fourth generation as Bobby's son Austin works there full time and Dalton works part time. His three younger children, Shelly, Bailey, and Kayla have all been feeding the heifers and helping with chores since their first steps. Cricket's school-age daughter Morgan and son Colby are busy with chores every day as well. All the kids show animals for 4-H and local fairs.
Peter's wife Jean owns a dance school where she teaches 150 students from ages 2 to 18. And on the Jacquiers' farm, the grandparents Bob and Dot prepare a large lunch for the family and employees every day where they all gather, catch up on the day's events, and make plans for the rest of the afternoon. Bobby's wife Teresa joins them when she can, but she's usually busy teaching at North Canaan Elementary. Cricket's wife Jennifer is the town tax collector, and she helps keep the books for the farm. Says Cricket, "The greatest joy is working side-by-side every day with my family. And it's great to see the next generation beginning to take on an important role now."
The Jacquiers are more than dairy farmers; they are also ambassadors for the dairy industry. Shelly, Morgan, and Bailey hold officer positions in the Future Farmers of America. There seems to be a constant parade of visitors to the farm– school groups, vet students, 4-H members, and tourists – and the family is even looking to set up a visitor center on the farm. It’s just in the planning stages, but says Cricket, “Our goal is to tell the story of dairy farming. What life on a dairy farm is all about, its cultural and economic impact on our heritage, and how milk actually finds its way from the cow grazing in the field to your kitchen table. A lot of things have to happen along the way, and a lot of people work hard to bring safe and healthy milk to our supermarkets.”
For the Jacquiers, being dairy farmers means belonging to a broader community. In fact, Cricket serves on the Board of Directors for Agri-Mark and helps shape dairy farming in New England and New York. He is also on the Ag Advisory Council for the Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Bobby serves on the Connecticut Milk Promotion Board and on ALEC, the legislative arm of Agri-Mark. Peter represents DairyOne, which addresses milk testing and management records for dairy herds. They participate in local parades and even have their own dairy float, and they bring a group of residents from the Geer Nursing Home around town each year. Sometimes they bring their goat Maya with them for a visit and make a special day for them. Says Cricket, “It’s all about being good neighbors and making a positive contribution to the community.”
Please call ahead for Tours, (860) 824-1287.