Richard and Melissa Skoda own Triple Creek Farm in Craryville, New York, and it's a family affair. Richard has lived on this land all his life, and the farm has been in the family for four generations. Richard and Melissa's sons, Ryan and Josh, work the farm too, and the family tradition is now moving to the fifth generation. Says Richard: "There's nothing easy about dairy farming. But now that my sons work on the farm full-time, they have taken over most morning milkings. Rank has at least some privileges. But above all, it's a great joy every day to wake up and work side by side with my family."
The Skodas made a big decision several years ago. Their barn was destroyed in a fire and had to be replaced. It was then that Ryan and Josh decided they wanted to work the farm full-time, so the family rebuilt, expanded their operations, and erected a modernized barn that is bigger and better than ever. They house up to 300 cows, boast a state-of-the-art milking parlor, and make sure their herd provides the safest, healthiest milk possible. In fact, Triple Creek Farm has won two awards since rebuilding for the high quality of their product. In spite of hard times in the industry this family has no quit in them.
The Skodas, like so many other dairy farmers, love their work but need to find other ways to combat uncooperative market conditions. They are charter members of "Hudson Valley Fresh," a cooperative of eight local dairy farms that send a portion of their milk to be processed and sold locally. The towns in the area are grateful to know they are purchasing local dairy products of the highest possible quality, and they support their farmers enthusiastically. This is a growing trend among dairy farmers, and it helps take some of the edge off of harsh market conditions.
"Although times are tough," says Richard, "there's nothing like raising your family on a farm. Your kids learn not to take things for granted. They learn tough lessons about responsibility and hard work. And they develop a deep-seated commitment to the land and to farming." And while the work is from dawn to dusk and beyond, the life is rich in rewards that just can't be measured.