The small town of Eagle Bridge, NY lies just west of the New York/Vermont border in a region of rolling hills and lush forests. This nutrient-rich land nourishes the 100 Holstein cows on the farm and keeps them at peak health.
The Andrew family tends 600 acres of prime farmland, raising all the crops necessary to carry their cattle through the winter. And rather than buy replacement heifers, as do many commercial dairy farms, the Andrews raise their own. Their practices and their desire to invite the community to learn about agriculture have earned them recognition as a Dairy of Distinction.
Putting up so much feed and caring for so many young heifers is a lot of work, but the Andrews don’t hire outside labor. Instead they rely on the three generations of family that still live in the area. “Most commercial farms are run on paid labor, but we decided we want a family farm that runs on family labor,” says Terry. It’s a decision that’s proven critical to the farm’s success. “When milk prices are high, it allows us to save money. And when they’re low, it keeps us from losing money.”
Terry admits, however, that there’s a downside to keeping it in the family. “It’s seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. That’s the one thing. We don’t really take vacations.” She then pauses a moment, reconsidering. “Well, the county fair is a vacation, I guess. But since the kids are always showing cattle at the fair, and since the cows still have to be milked, it’s a working vacation.”
So the Andrews might not have a lot of downtime. And maybe there are a lot of days when work begins with the rising sun and ends long after it has set. But don’t think for a second that Howard and Terry Andrew would change a thing. “Some days it can seem like you’re just tolerating it,” says Terry. “But you have to love it. There’s no other way you could do it.”