He’s a family man and contributor to his local community. He has a nurturing soul, is attentive details and puts the needs of others before his own. He’s an eternal optimist. He’s a workhorse, so to speak. He is humble, yet passionate. He’s simple, yet oversees a complex enterprise. He represents the past, present and the future. He’s a farmer. A dairy farmer to be exact. He’s a man that may sound too good to be true, but in actuality, he’s just another do-good dairy farmer. He’s a proud, passionate and dedicated servant to his cows, his family, his community and his environment. He’s practically the George Washington Bridge, spanning the divide between Upstate cows and kids in New York City.
He’s John Marshman of Oxford, New York, and I’m so pleased he agreed to share his story with all of you. Here’s Johnny!
1. Who are you?
My name is John Marshman and I am a father, husband and business partner at Marshman Farms, home to Tiger Lily Holsteins.
2. Why are you a dairy farmer?
I’m a farmer because I enjoy being a business owner and decision maker. I also have a passion for breeding and working with high quality dairy cows.
3. How would you describe your farm?
Marshman Farms was established in 1856, and my brother, David, and I represent the 6th generation of Marshmans. We are equal business partners and milk 400 cows three times a day. We also have 350 calves and heifers. Our employees are a vital part of our family business. One example is our herdsman, Earl, who is now in his 43rd year of employment at our farm.
4. If your cows could talk, what would they say about you?
They’d say, “We are the luckiest cows in the world. We are very comfortable and we are never hungry.” (That’s what my 7 year old daughter thinks they would say.)
5. What is your favorite thing to do on the farm?
I enjoy walking through the barn and checking on our animals. I love seeing our cows comfortable and happy.
6. How many hours do you typically work in one week?
My wife would say I work all the time, and maybe she’s right. My average week: 80 hours.
7. Did you go to school to be a farmer?
Yes. I am a graduate of Cornell University and the Cornell Dairy Executive Program.
8. What do you for fun off the farm?
I enjoy spending time with my daughter, Lily, and wife, Sheila. Together, we like to attend county, state, and national cow shows. We also enjoy going to water parks.
9. What personality trait makes you a better farmer?
Attention to detail. Our calves are cared for just like a newborn human baby. Like a child, each baby calf gets her mother’s milk and is carefully monitored for the first 24 hours of life. The cows receive a consistent healthy diet.
10. Is your glass of milk – half full or half empty?
Half full, of course! (Farmers are optimistic by birth, I think.)
11. What challenges you as a dairy farmer?
Feeding the world is not an easy career choice, and the ability to stay successful over a long period of time in an ever-changing global economy is difficult.
12. What is one thing you are most proud of in regards to the farm?
Community is important to us. I am proud to be able to give back to our local community. I’m also proud of being a positive contributor, as well as a well-respected business in our town.
13. Do you do anything special for your cows or calves?
Yes, our cows sleep on waterbeds! Well-rested, comfortable cows produce lots of milk.
14. What is one thing you recycle, reuse or repurpose on the farm?
We reuse the manure from our cows as fertilizer for our fields. We also use shredded up cardboard for bedding.
15. What do you usually wear to the barn?
I don’t leave the house without my coveralls and boots. I’ll wear a Carhartt coat when it is cold.
16. Where does your milk go?
Our milk is processed and packaged into half pints cartons for New York City schools.
17. Do you have a nickname for your cows?
They are all “Tiger Lilies”, which happens to be the name of our farm. Registered cattle all have official names and paperwork. The start of each registered name is the farm prefix, which is Tiger Lily. The Tiger Lily prefix is known around and very popular in Europe.
18. What is your favorite dairy product?
Ice Cream! Strawberry
19. What is the last thing you do on the farm before calling it a day?
I always check the maternity cows to see if anyone is close to calving. If so, I may go back to the barn before bed to check her one more time.
20. What do you want everyone to know about you – the dairy farmer?
I really want people to know that we work hard, we have a passion for our cows and the land we farm, and that we stand behind the product we produce – milk!
If you care to follow John and his beautiful red and white Holsteins, please feel free to like his farm’s Facebook page.