The Johnson family has a unique operation on their Sanctuary Farm in central New Hampshire. Jolyon is a veterinarian with an animal clinic next door to the family's home. For many years, he has had a mixed practice providing care for both large and small animals. He has spent much of his time providing vet services for some 35 dairy farms.
The industry began to compress over the years, so Jolyon now serves about ten dairy farms and has turned his attention to the small animal needs which have grown. He still makes the rounds from farm to farm, but Jolyon now does most of his work at the clinic and attends to the 40 milkers and 40 young stock on his farm. Jolyon's wife, Susan, is busy helping run the vet clinic and operating an ice cream parlor on the farm. Their young son Beck, along with sister Maranda, help out on the farm, but they pay particularly close attention to making sure the ice cream shop stays in tip-top condition. Susan and Jolyon's older son, Jared, is attending UNH and plans to return to be involved with the operation after graduation, as he is now when not in school.
Jolyon grew up on the farm, as did his ancestors for many generations. The family received the land on his mother's side as a grant for their participation in the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The property has remained in the family ever since, and it has been a dairy farm for the past century. Jolyon's grandfather built a new barn in 1920, which remained in use for sixty-seven years until 1987 when the family built a new one. Things are built to last on a dairy farm, and a new barn is a very big deal. Jolyon figures his grandchildren will probably build the next one.
When you combine operating a veterinary business with running a dairy farm, days can last a long time. The Johnsons have one helper at the farm, and they milk the cows twice a day starting around 5:30 in the morning. The herd are all registered Holsteins, which tend to produce more milk than other dairy cattle.
The Johnsons hold open houses on the farm and have students from the University of New Hampshire come by to see the operation and learn about treatment and management of large animals. Along the way, Jolyon has also served on the school board, the zoning board, and other town committees. Says Jolyon, "That's just the way things are done in a small New England town. Everybody is expected to pitch in to make things work. Please call ahead for Tours, (603) 863-8940.
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