Each month, the Granby Drummer publishes an interview with a local farmer from our town. Read on to lean more! 1) How did you get started in farming? Daphne: I married into this glamorous lifestyle 25 years ago! My father’s comment to me was “I moved us from upstate NY to get away from it and you go marry into it!”
David: I was born into it. My grandfather milked cows, my father milked cows, and so did I until about 1985.
2) What's your favorite product/service that you produce? Daphne: Our hay used to be viewed as just ‘cow hay.’ Then we met a few horse owners that became our customers, and it has become "horse hay", too. We’ve met so many nice people through the years from selling hay, eggs, and firewood! David: I do most of the logging when the ground freezes. I’m happy being out in the woods with our dog, or our daughter, Deanna, who enjoys haying because stacking bales is a good workout. And Deanna says that learning each piece of equipment is always a challenge.
3) What will your farm look like in ten years? We are hoping to expand our Scottish Highland cattle herd. We really like the breed, and we’ve finally been able to purchase an affordable bull. He’s only 2 years old and his name is Chawie. We’d also love to have more chickens. But all in all, just being able to continue doing what we’re doing would be great. We love carrying on the farming tradition that has been in our family for years.
4) How does the community benefit from agriculture? Daphne: Some farms provide the food that people eat and other farms supply the food that the animals eat. In addition to that it's a great education – for example with our Scottish Highlanders, we get a lot of people that just stop by to get a closer look. We have taken several people on "tour" to see the chickens & goats. They get to see something that they might not see every day. David: We used to be able to go just down the street to visit another farm. You can’t do that anymore. Sometimes you take it for granted when you get to see these amazing things every day.
5) From whom did you learn the most when you were getting started? Daphne: David and his Dad, Alan, taught me a lot. Being part of 4-H with great people like Dorothy Hayes, Nancy Hayes and Amy Gilbert who were all very willing to share their knowledge, and answer my many questions. David: my grandfather and my father. I grew up with agriculture all around me. We milked 42 cows, and a lot of my friends had farms of similar sizes so there was always someone around to ask questions.
6) What do you wish more people knew about farming? It’s 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We only to go away for a couple of long weekends every year. Thank goodness for our fill in farmer, Karen Forker!! She takes care of all the animals if we go away. Your plans have to be flexible – something can change in a minute. It's extremely unpredictable - for example we lost about 15 of our hens to raccoons in one night. When things are running smoothly, it's a very rewarding to know you grow/harvest/supply people with a product or service.
7) What's on your farm's wish list? Daphne: A big building. David: Yeah. Our equipment is multiplying but the space is not! It would be great to have space out of the elements when things break down – or to be able to leave it disassembled to be able to work on multi-day projects. In the winter, it would be much nicer than laying on the icy driveway. The worst is when you freeze to the ground! The David added, “I’d be happy just to be healthy. But I’d still like a big barn.”
8) What's the biggest issue facing agriculture today? One of the problems I notice is all the fuel we buy. The cost of fuel is incredible. It’s nothing for the fuel bill to top $1,000 a month in the summertime. We sell hay for more than we did years ago, but I think we made more money selling it for $2 a bale back in the day because of the increased cost of fuel and parts. Everything’s gotten so expensive. Regulations have gotten a lot stricter.
9) What's next at your farm? Harvesting logs and firewood. We’ll be pulling logs out for next year. We try to do everything on frozen ground so you don’t even know I was there come spring. Last year I only had about 2 weeks of frozen ground!
10) What's the most amazing thing you've seen on your farm? Daphne: It has to be birth. We’ve had pygmy goats with little kids, calves, even the wild animals. Cindy, my in-law's beagle, found a newborn fawn the hayfield one summer morning. It was so tiny!
David: One of my favorite things is walking out in the pasture a few weeks before any of the cows are due to calve, and seeing a newborn calf already up and running around.
11) What's the best thing about farming in Granby? There’s such a tight-knit community of support. We have known many of the Granby farmers for years - Youngs, Hayes, Gilberts. If you’re having trouble with something, chances are, you’ll always find someone who’s had that happen before and they'll be able to give you some advice.