Diesel and Katy Hitt live in Adams Center, NY where Diesel is the managing partner of Windsong Dairy. This dairy farm is home to 650 milking cows and is owned by Diesel, Bill Morgan and Jon Gilbert, all first generation farmers. Diesel is responsible for handling the day to day operations along with the herd and financial management of the farm. I asked Katy and Diesel to share a little bit about why they farm and what happens at Windsong Dairy every day. Here’s what they had to say.
Why do you farm every day?
We farm every day because we love cows and we love being a family farm! We enjoy seeing the animals grow from baby calves to milking cows and enjoy the different seasons and being able to work outside with the land and provide food for our country. As parents to three young children, Lane (3), Emma (1) and Tori (2 mo.), it means a lot to us to be able to have our kids grow up on the farm. We literally live on the farm, with our house being located between the milking parlor and where our calves live. Farming is an opportunity for our children to learn values and lessons that will take them into the future. They know every employee and we feel that it brings a family atmosphere to the entire operation.
What are you doing on your farm that leaves a positive impact?
We have hosted the Jefferson County Day on the Farm for the past two years which consisted of more than 300 visitors joining us on the farm each year. Visitors were able to learn about dairy farming at various stations throughout the farm and by participating in guided tours that provided an inside look at the entire operation from milking to vet work to crops and nutrition. When dealing with our crops, as farmers, we use the best management practices possible including no-tilling, cover crops and drag-lining manure to ensure the soil stays healthy, our crops stay plentiful and our cows are fed a healthy diet.
Can you explain a few things that you put into practice on your farm that impacts the future of the industry?
We are early adapters to the FARM Program and have always tried to be on the progressive side with cow comfort and animal welfare issues. We try to be good neighbors and one of the ways we do this is by following our manure management plan which indicates how we spread manure on our fields keeping tractor traffic and the odor to a minimum. We also try to maintain an open door policy with our neighbors and we welcome the opportunity to talk about any topics and explain why we do what we do on the farm.
Note: FARM stands for Farmers Assuring Responsible Management and is a program which allows the dairy industry to come together to accomplish goals of a high-level of animal care, as well as environmental and antibiotic stewardship. To learn more about the FARM program and how it benefits dairy farmers and consumers, check out their website: http://www.nationaldairyfarm.com
What is the biggest challenge you face in dairy farming?
The biggest challenge we face on our farm is finding good, quality labor. It is very difficult to attract good people into the industry.
What is the biggest opportunity you foresee being part of the future on your dairy farm?
Even though labor is a challenge facing dairy farming, our core labor force on our farm is very young and we have a great opportunity to keep expanding and implementing progressive practices on our farm.
If you could tell consumers one thing about what you do on your farm, what would it be?
We produce a very high-quality product while taking exceptional care of our herd and our entire team strives to make this happen on a daily basis.