Joe Fults, his father Lewis, Joe’s wife Brynne, and Lewis’s wife Michelle all pitch in to operate the Fults Farm in Evans Mills, New York, about twenty miles from the Canadian border. Joe is the fourth generation of dairy farmers in the family, and now the fifth generation is taking its first baby steps into dairy farming as well. Joe and Brynne’s young daughter Ninette ventures out to the barn on many mornings, plays with kittens, and rides around on the barn bike as Joe does the milking. Caelum, their middle son, comes running any time there’s a chance he might catch a ride on the tractor. Their third child is still pint-sized, but will be involved soon. And for Joe, keeping the tradition of the family farm alive and honoring the generations that helped build the farm before him is one his greatest joys of dairy farming. “I loved growing up on the farm, working with the animals, and farming the land,” says Joe. “I want my children to enjoy the same experience I knew growing up.”
Joe and Lewis milk 70 cows, have about 50 replacement stock, and farm 165 acres. They grow corn silage and hay and use every bit of it on the farm. Brynne works as a middle school guidance counselor and is always willing to lend a hand. Joe runs the farm full-time, but he is also an educator. He teaches summer school and often substitute teaches during the school year. Teaching is another family tradition as Joe’s mother, father, and grandmother were all teachers as well.
One thing that distinguishes Fults Farm from many others is how closely Joe works with his herd nutritionist. Together they make sure they balance the cows’ diet to achieve best results. They sample the forages regularly and work meticulously to come up with the best possible grain mix for the herd. Like dairy farms in years past, Joe then mixes, mills, and grinds all the feed they use on the farm. This is no longer a common practice on dairy farms, and it’s one more detail that Joe adds to make sure the Fults’ cows produce the best possible milk.
The Fults are also engaged in area sports. The farm sponsors local youth baseball teams and purchases their uniforms, caps, and other equipment. Joe is active with the 200 Club, a youth organization in Evans Mills that support local athletics, buys equipment for the teams, and helps maintain the soccer and baseball fields and other sports facilities in the area. Says Joe, “It’s part of being a good neighbor.”