Jim and Karen Davenport run a 60 cow, 600 acre tie-stall dairy farm with 130 total head of purebred Holsteins and Ayrshires in Ancramdale, New York. The 140 tillable acres provide all the forages for the herd as well as some hay to sell as a cash crop.
So, what’s Jim’s day like? He grins as he starts the list: “I walk in the barn at 3:00 a.m., sanitize the milking system, push feed in to the cows, clean-up behind them, and start to milk by 3:30 a.m. I then feed the calves, wash the milking system, and head to the house for breakfast.” The middle of the day includes crop work and servicing machinery, buildings, or the milking system. And the list never quite gets done. Says Jim: “The goal is to be home for dinner and family by 7:00 p.m.” And Jim is content with the long hours, but when milk prices are low, the best he can hope for is to break even. Fortunately, Karen is an agricultural science teacher in nearby Connecticut, and her income keeps the wolves from the door.
The entire Davenport family is actively committed to promoting the dairy industry. Daughters Kristen and Laura were Columbia County Dairy Princesses. They spoke with elementary school children and many civic groups about the importance of dairy in a healthy diet and about dairy farming generally. Also, each spring the entire Taconic Hills kindergarten came to the farm for a day of fantastic experiences. In 2008 Kristen became the New York State Dairy Princess, and her responsibilities extended statewide. Over the years the Davenport family has organized Cabot tastings in New York, Connecticut, and Florida at supermarkets, open houses, and banquets.
Jim feels it is critical for consumers to know how much labor, money, and care go into getting quality milk to the creamery. To this end, the Davenports have earned Agri-Mark’s “Top Quality Award” four times this decade. They have also won the National Dairy Quality Award, being in the top six herds nationwide three times. And anytime the Davenports have the chance to inform the public about dairy, they take it. Recently Jim received a call on Thursday afternoon from a Fox Business News producer to be interviewed with the Pennsylvania Commissioner of Agriculture on the terrible financial condition of dairy farming. He appeared in Manhattan at 8:30 the next morning for a live network interview and was back at work by 11:00 a.m. Just one more thing on the list.