When he was just a year old, Wesley Bourcy’s family moved to north central New York on Lake Ontario. “I’ve lived here all my life,” he says, then pauses and chuckles: “Well, I could say that, but I ain’t dead yet.” His earliest memories, Wesley recalls, are of being in the barn with his parents: his dad milking by hand on one side while his mom used a milking machine on the other. “It’s all I ever wanted to do,” he says, noting proudly that there’s still a photo of him at age 8 milking a cow by hand.
Wesley took over his parents’ 65-acre farm in 1970 when he was 20; that was always his plan although it happened a little earlier than expected due to his father’s health. He has loved being a dairy farmer, he says, not begrudging even one night spent in the barn. The highlight? “Every time I deliver a calf,” he responds, “and I’ve done thousands of them.”
Like his father before him, though, Wesley was obliged to slow down a bit several years ago due to some health issues. He counts himself lucky that his son-in-law, a multi-generation dairy farmer himself, was interested in first managing and then buying the farm. Lyle Wood, who is married to Jennifer, one of Wesley’s twin daughters, is in business with Scott Bourcy, a distant cousin of theirs. Lyle was excited about the opportunity to expand and the bonus of keeping the farm in the family. Adding the 280-head milking herd to their 1,000-cow Wood Farms operation provides some efficiencies, although they plan to manage the two herds separately. But there are benefits beyond the bottom line. “It’s great to see Jennifer’s dad happy and she’s happy, too, that we can keep the farm where she grew up,” Lyle says.
Wesley, meanwhile, has every intention of living out a long life on the farm. “I go to the barn every day and if there’s a problem, the boys call me,” he says. “I don’t think I could move away and I don’t think I could tolerate it being empty.”