The Dairy Farm Adventures: The wild ride begins

Posted Tuesday, April 16, 2013 in Features

The Dairy Farm Adventures: The wild ride begins

courtesy "Betting the Farm"

by Lee-Rae Jordan Oliver

Our dairy farm, perched on top of Westford Hill, overlooks Canada to the east and Mount Katahdin to the west. The first time my husband, Matthew, and I scouted our land, I discovered we could see Mount Katahdin. Being able to admire one of my favorite places on Earth every day, I knew the land for sale was a good match. Our first parcel of land included 120 acres of woods and fields.  

Having been educators for over a decade, we now had the opportunity to explore other options. Our fondest memories as a young married couple were of renting a camp in Haynesville for the summer and working on the vegetable farm with Matthew's parents. We thrived on the physical labor, being outside every day, and working together side by side in the vegetable patch. When summer ended, we reluctantly returned to our classrooms, promising ourselves someday we'd have a farm of our own.

Now our time had come. I helped Matthew clear the land for our house in the spring of 2006. My father helped pick the spot for our house, telling us if we cleared a swath of land "right here" we would have a clear view of Mount Katahdin. Using a chain saw, our Chinese Task Master tractor, and a choker cable, we cleared an acre of woods, one tree at a time. Our labors were rewarded with breathtaking views of the mountain.

We moved into our modular home two weeks before our second child, Anna, was born on Oct. 4, 2006. Throughout the winter months, Matthew started scheming about how to use our land. Not wanting to compete with his family's well-established vegetable business, he turned his focus to raising animals.                

Seemingly out of the blue, he set his mind on dairy cows. Neither one of us knew one thing about dairy farming. One of our early conversations about the idea of us dairy farming went something like this, "Matthew, we don't know anything about cows or dairy farming!”      

 "Well," he replied, "we'll have to learn then, won't we?"    

The fact that he used the word "we" meant he was counting on my support. We had just moved into our house, had a new baby, and now we were going to build a dairy farm from scratch? You've got to be kidding me.        

I could have protested mightily, claiming we were crazy to start on a venture we knew nothing about. After 14 years of marriage, I knew that when Matthew had an idea planted in his head, nothing would stop him. I had to decide if I was going to jump on for the ride of our lives or be a lead sinker. Maybe it was my sleep-deprived baby brain which made me do it, but I jumped on that wild ride, and I've been holding on for dear life ever since.  

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