Lewis Dairy Farm, home to Chris and Jeanie Lewis, sits on the west bank of the Androscoggin River, just a few miles upstream from Maine's twin cities of Auburn and Lewiston. The region's rich soil and ample supply of lakes, rivers, and streams were once dense with farmland, but today, Lewis is one of only two remaining dairy farms in Auburn.
Chris, a fifth generation farmer in his early 30s, grew up working nearby on his parent's farm, and later his uncle's. "I started buying my own cows when I was just eight or nine years old," says Chris. "I knew from a very young age that I was going to be a farmer."
By the time he was in high school, he had nine cows, which he milked everyday before and after school. After graduation, he tried college for a semester, but quickly decided his money would be put to better use acquiring a farm instead of a diploma. He returned home to Berwick, and continued to work for his uncle, all the while searching for property of his own. In just a few short years he found a beautiful 300-acre property, its land zoned for agricultural use by the city of Auburn. "I got lucky and found the perfect spot," says Chris. "We live on a small country road with only six other houses which sees no more than 20 cars go by each day, yet we're only a few minutes away from the city's shops and stores. For us, it is the best of both worlds."
In 2009, Chris married Jeanie, a farm girl from Falmouth, who has been his constant companion and partner on the farm. Jeanie came to Lewis Farm far from empty handed, bringing seven Ayrshires to add to Chris's herd of Holsteins. In 2011, the couple had a daughter named Hailey.
Since buying the property, Chris and Jeanie have made a number of improvements, both to the facilities and the herd. Over the last seven years, they've repaired the barn and added padded stalls, dug a new manure pit, added a new milking parlor, and gutted and remolded the farmhouse. Today, the farm is home to 110 cattle, a mixture of Holstein and Ayrshire, which Jeanie shows at the Fryeburg Fair.
"When I told my family and friends that I was going to be a dairy farmer, they told me I was crazy and should choose a different industry," says Chris. "At heart, I knew I'd always be a farmer, and hearing that made me want to prove them wrong. After seven years, we're still here and we're still growing, and we're happy. I guess that is proof enough."