Mark Cary did not plan to be a farmer. He grew up on small dairy farm east of Saratoga Springs, one of seven children. “I knew I didn’t want to farm after long, hot days throwing hay bales while my buddies were off floating down the river,” he reflects. He and Jennifer Cary started dating in high school and both studied agriculture at Cornell. Jennifer also came from a dairy farming family; her grandparents Hap and Grace Sheldon moved their farm to Salem in 1942 and Jennifer’s father, Jim, and his brother, Dan, had taken over Woody Hill Farms.
During and after college, Jennifer and Mark worked on a variety of farms, gaining exposure to dairy operations of very different scales. “It’s good to get out of your comfort zone,” says Mark. The couple came home to Jennifer’s family farm and became partners in Woody Hill. They love raising their two daughters on the farm and the variety of tasks throughout each season. As far as the next generation, Mark says, “My goal and my wife’s goal is to make it fun first. Certainly, we would love it if they joined us. Our farm is going to take a path to financial success and if they want to get on the boat, great.”
On Thursdays in September through March, the family makes a commitment to gather for supper with Jim and Dan’s mother, Grace. “That’s often our Christmas gift to her,” says Mark. “What else are you going to give someone who’s 90 years old? She doesn’t need another sweater.”