It's easy for Blake Gendebien to name his favorite thing about farming. "What I really enjoy is making small square bales of hay on a sunny day, with my two older boys riding in the wagon and jumping into the pond afterwards. There's something about it that's incredibly satisfying."
Days like those are what led Blake to give up a management position at the Agco Corporation in Atlanta to purchase a farm next door to his parents' operation in the Saint Lawrence Valley town of Ogdensburg. Together with his folks, the help of his wife Carmen, and his three boys, Miles, Truman, and Noah, Blake manages a herd of 150 Holsteins and grows the crops to keep them producing high quality milk.
He's not shy about discussing the challenges of dairy farming, particularly the fluctuations of milk prices, but he knows there's nothing to compare with raising his sons on the same patch of ground he roamed as a boy. "The most amazing thing is when I'm out there on the tractor with one of my boys, and I remember riding on the very same tractor with my father," he says. "I'd be napping on my dad's lap, and now my son is napping on mine, on the same tractor, in the same field. Those are the moments that keep you going."
In addition to the work around the farm and spending time with his family, in 2012 Blake was nominated and elected to represent his region on the Board of Directors. He now has the interests of all of Cabot's 1,200 farmers to look out for and there is little doubt that Blake is up to the task.
The Gendebiens also stay busy beyond caring for their children, farm and Cooperative responsabilities. Carmen runs Glow Skincare and Spa in Cantona and recently launched a farm-to-bottle luxury bath & body care line - A Wholesome Glow. Blake and Carmen are also cofounders of the Jules of Life Foundation, a local charity that supports families with children diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
Miles, Truman, and Noah are still very young, but they've already expressed their desire to become the third generation of Gendebiens to farm this land. Perhaps someday they'll be riding across a field on an old John Deere and recall how they rode that same tractor with their father years ago, even as the young child on their lap quietly slips into sleep.
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