Home to 690 cows, Burdock Hills Dairy, LLC, was established in 1973 by Dan and Mary Javor. When Dan and Mary bought the farm, they started milking only 30 cows. Through the years, they have seen many ups and downs, but still cherish the farmer lifestyle. They raised three children, one who joined as a partner in the dairy farm after college. Son, Krist who now manages the field work aspect of the dairy farm and helping out with the cows when needed.
“Some days don’t go as planned on a dairy farm, but I can’t think of any other job that would suit me better. I think many jobs can feel this way to people, except with being a dairy farmer, I get to be my own boss and make the decisions on how to handle the situation and not as a supervisor,” said Dan.
Along with milking cows, Dan, Mary and Krist farm 1,200 acres of corn, alfalfa and wheat to feed and bed their cows. The Javor family also hauls their own milk to milk processing plants like Heritage Ridge Creamery which is about 85 miles from the farm. Although delivering milk to a processing plant is unusual for a farm this size, Burdock Hills Dairy L.L.C. prides itself on being involved with the extra step to ensure the milk is the highest quality possible to make dairy products like cheese. Many farms choose to not deliver their own milk to a processing facility due to extra labor and equipment needed.
“A perk of delivering our milk to Heritage Ridge Creamery is that we can bring cheese home after leaving the plant,” Dan said. “My favorite cheese is sharp cheddar, but we make sure we always have plenty of cheese around to snack on for the family and our employees.”
Farming and dairy cows has been the center of Richard and Trula Thomas’ world since day one. Richard bought the farm before he left the service and they welcomed their first calf to the farm a few short days after their honeymoon. Thirty-nine years, three kids and two grandchildren later, they still both look forward to new calves being born.
“My favorite memory so far on the farm was when the kids were showing at the county fair. They always wore red shirts and it was so much fun to see them dressed similar and working together in and out of the show ring,” shared Trula Thomas.
LeAnn Acres—created by using Richard and Trula’s middle names—is home to 120 milking cows who are milked two times a day just eight miles away from Heritage Ridge Creamery. They farm about 200 acres of corn and hay to feed their animals. Their son Sheldon, who is considered the herdsman, spends most of his time with the cattle milking, taking care of the calves while Richard focuses on the crop side and the herd health.
“I love great cows. I love showing at cattle shows and working with the animals. It makes me proud to see them succeed in the show arena after working with them from day one,” said Sheldon. “My happiest moment in my life I think was when our cow “Sweet” was awarded Grand Champion at the 2017 Indiana State Fair.”
They all agreed that some of the best parts of dairy farming is the variety of tasks needing to get done on a day to day basis seldomly is boring and seeing the fruits of their labor is truly rewarding whether it is in the show ring, harvesting corn or watching a calf grow up to be a milk cow.
“It’s a lot of work with many challenges but reaping the rewards of your hard work and working with family makes it worthwhile,” said Richard.
Starting his own dairy farm on October 25, 2014, Jesse fulfilled his dream of milking cows of his own. He gained experience from working on two local dairy farms and jumped at the chance to purchase a herd of 19 cows and rent a facility when it was offered. Fast forward to the present, Jesse and Chelsea have expanded the milking herd to 50 cows and have added a daughter to their dream.
With their milk travelling only 22 miles to Heritage Ridge Creamery, the young couple milk twice a day in a stanchion barn and have 15 acres of hay and pasture for the cows with the help of family when needed. “We are a first-generation farm starting from scratch and learning a lot as we go. We strive to take care of our cows just like they take care of us. Each cow has a name and a job to do. It is such a blessing to see all that we have accomplished so far and can’t wait to see what is in our farm’s future,” said Chelsea.
“In my opinion, the best way to describe the life of a dairy farmer is a person with never ending tasks,” shared Jesse. “Even with lots to do, we love our cows and taking care of them best we know how.”
Mike Oesch and daughter, Laura Yoder work like a well-oiled machine together on their family dairy: MyBrook Farms. Along side of them are Mike’s wife Judy, who is in charge of the bookkeeping, Laura’s husband Ryan,who teaches at the local middle school, and Laura’s three children.
Laura’s daughter Hadley said, “My favorite part is the cows. I’ve been growing up with cows my whole life and I just love the cows! My calf that grew up to be a cow is about to have a baby. I can’t wait!”
MyBrook Farms is a multigenerational family farm just four miles from Heritage Ridge Creamery. They milk 120 Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss cows twice a day in their parlor. To feed their cows and young stock, they farm 375 acres of corn, soybeans and hay. Everyone works hard to make sure the animals and land are well taken care of. The Oesch’s have been dairy farmers in Middlebury since 1896 and have been focusing on being good neighbors in their community, environmental stewards of the land and of course, treating their cows with lots of TLC.
“I have always loved the farm and the cows since I was a little girl! When I was really young, I spent most of my time with my dad outside. When my mom would tell me that it was time to come inside, I would go inside, stand at the back door and watch the cows, waiting to go back out to the farm. When my mom would go to a different room in the house, I would sneak back out to help my dad and see my cows. Now I’m seeing Hadley doing the same thing. I love to watch her eat her meals quickly in order to get back out to the cows and get back to work! Dairy farming is truly not just a job to us, it is a lifestyle,” said Laura.