The town of Chateaugay, New York, just minutes south of the Canadian border, has a reputation for producing great things. Cabot’s sister brand, McCadam, has been making New York’s finest cheese at its Chateaugay factory since 1934, and Poppydale Farm, located just down the road, is the home to some of the state’s most prized Jersey, Guernsey and Holstein cattle. Poppydale’s been in the Trombly family for more than 40 years, but amazingly, it was only a little more than a decade ago that Liz Trombly acquired their first calf.
“My father, Bill, is a Chateaugay native and life long farmer, and my mother, Mary Beth, comes from a fourth-generation farm family,” says Liz. “My dad used to run our 200 acre property as a cash crop farm, and help out with the Jersey herd at my grandfather’s farm on the side. In 2001, my grandfather gave us our first calf, and that’s when I caught the showing bug. We began shipping our milk to Agri-Mark in 2007 with a stock of only five milking cows, and since then, we’ve increased our herd to 16 milkers and 40 total stock, including a number of award winning animals.”
Liz and her family show at the local Franklin County Fair, the New York State Fair and a few national shows. One of their cows scored 93 points and was a supreme champion at the county fair, as well as a grand champion at the National Guernsey Junior Show in Harrisburg, PA. Poppydale Farm has also received a number of quality milk awards from Agri-Mark, including the second place award for milk quality in their Agri-Mark Section in 2010.
“We’re a small farm,” remarks Liz, “but that is by design. Both my mom and I have full time jobs outside of the farm. I spend my days visiting farmers and helping them figure out how to feed their stock more effectively and how they can increase the quality of their milk, in addition to consulting on building new barns and helping them make their farms more sustainable,” says Liz.
Before Liz heads off to her job as a dairy nutritionist and Mary Beth, to the Chateaugay Central School where she teaches high school special education, they both rise at 5AM to milk the cows, then do the same around 5PM when they get home from work. Liz’s father manages the crops, and her brother Michael, helps out on the farm when he can. Liz’s sister, Maggie helps take care of the cattle during the summer. “We lead a busy life,” notes Liz.
The family also stays active in the community and the agriculture industry. Bill is a town councilman and a volunteer fire fighter, and Mary Beth brings the school’s agricultural students to the farm to take soil samples, learn tree identification and walk through the property’s woods. Liz is a director for the Northern New York Holstein Club, a Young Cooperative member for Agri-Mark and on the Program Committee for Cornell University Cooperative Extension in Franklin County.
The Trombly’s have a lot planned for the future. Liz hopes to build a new free stall barn sometime in the next few years that can house all of their stock, which is now split between two smaller barns. “I want to keep showing our animals, and when my mom retires, maybe get into the ice cream business. We’ve come far in such a short time because we love what we do, so who knows what the future has in store?”