A devastating barn fire, a new highway built through their farm, suburban development pressure—the Scholtens have been through a lot since Adriena and Jacob Scholten left their native Holland as newlyweds in 1959. They first landed in Iowa where Jacob worked as a baker. He moved on to masonry and then dairy farming after moving to New York State where he and his wife raised four sons on several different farms, including one in Vermont. Three now work together full-time on the family’s farm near Syracuse; the fourth helps out around his other full-time job.
Since the family settled on their farm in Baldwinsville, they’ve grown the herd of about 100 milking cows to 400 in order to support more family members. The Scholtens also developed a grain and legume-growing business, raising wheat, soybeans and corn, much of which goes to a local ethanol plant. The brothers divide tasks among the two parts of the business. “I’ve always liked cows. I’m the cow boy,” Wayne says with a chuckle. John does the cropping and Piels helps with crops and fieldwork.
Most of the next generation of Scholtens have followed other paths although the youngest Scholten brother, Robert’s son, Robbie, is studying agriculture and might follow the family tradition. His brother, Billy, has also worked on the farm. The brothers are proud of the fact that their milk goes to make Cabot products and Wayne always includes Cabot cheese in his holiday gift baskets. “When we go visit people,” he says, “I can see in their eyes they’re hoping we’ve brought their cheese.”