Peckhaven Farm in Saratoga Springs, New York has been in the Peck family nearly 200 years. They crop 250 acres of corn and alfalfa for their herd of 115 milkers and 80 young stock, all registered Holsteins. David Peck farms in partnership with his father, Joe Peck, who purchased the farm from his parents, Schuyler and Viola in 1960, and so on back to Amos Peck. Both Joe and David have worked on the farm all their lives except during the years they attended Cornell University. In fact, Joe was born in the house on the farm where he still lives. While David is now responsible for management of the spread, Joe still works eight to ten hours a day side-by-side with his son. "It takes long hours to succeed in dairy farming," says Joe.
When Joe and his wife Pat purchased the farm in 1960, it was a combination orchard and dairy farm. After the purchase, however, Joe decided to convert it entirely to dairy farming, and he built the farm up from about 20 cows to its present size. Joe not only converted fully to dairy farming, he also installed many modern practices on the farm. The Pecks were one of the earliest dairy farms in the region to computerize their bookkeeping and herd management; they constructed one of the first milk parlors in the area in 1969; and most recently, they installed a huge array of solar panels that will provide 50,000 watts of power. They expect to generate most of their own electricity. Says David: "Even though dairy farming may look like a sleepy business from the outside looking in, it's a tough industry, and you have to use every tool available to stay competitive."
Although dairy farming has been at the heart of the Peck family for generations, they find time to do many other things. Joe, for instance, is a writer. He has published two books of humor about dairy farming, A Tractor in the House and Other Smashing Farm Stories and A Cow in the Pool and Udder: Humorous Farm Stories. He is currently working on a memoir of his childhood on the farm. The family has had groups of all ages ranging from pre-schoolers to seniors and everything in between visit the farm for many years, and they were instrumental in establishing Saratoga County's 'Sundae on the Farm' where each year as many as 4,000 visitors tour a farm, see how cows are milked, and learn about the importance of agriculture to the local economy. Of course, many guests are feted with an ice cream sundae, which is where the name of the event came from.
The Pecks have also kept close ties with Cornell. Students in the pre-veterinarian program work on the farm during the summer as part of their training. Pat has been a 4H leader for over forty years, and Joe was chairman of Agri-Mark's Resolution Committee for many years and served on the local Farm Credit Board of Directors. He was also on the Town of Saratoga Planning Board for 17 years, serving as chairman for most of that time. Both David and Joe served as board members and president of the Saratoga County Farm Bureau. David's wife Jane, a critical care nurse, conducts farm safety events and teaches CPR. Says Joe: "Al these things are an important part of promoting dairy farming and being good members of the community."