Imagine getting together with a few college friends, learning alongside each other, growing together and ultimately going into business together to make a big dream come true. This is exactly how Ivy Lakes Dairy got its start. In 2013, Garrett & Libby Eiholzer, Clayton & Katie Wood and Austin & Abbey Copenhaver joined Hathorn Farms, an existing dairy farm, located in Stanley, NY.
The Hathorn family moved to Stanley in 1921 and Tom Hathorn made his “dairy debut” with four cows from his grandfather in 1952. Beginning in 1982, Tom and his wife Barb began farming with their son, Todd and his wife Nori. Todd and Nori raised five sons whose dreams didn’t include working on the farm. So instead of growing their farm with blood relatives, this farm is a partnership between three young families and the Hathorns. The combination of skills, experience, passion and technology make this operation function like a well-oiled machine. The three new families who have a passion for cows, created Ivy Lakes Dairy, which cares for the 750 cows on the farm, while the Hathorns tend to the land and grow feed for herd.
Today we have a chance to hear from the folks at Ivy Lakes Dairy about why they farm and what is happening on their dairy farm today. Be sure to check them out on Facebook at Ivy Lakes Dairy and follow them on Instagram @ivylakesdairy.
Why do you farm every day?
We have a passion for farming. Despite what some people think, money really isn’t what attracts people to farming because the profit margins are so small! In order to be a farmer, you have to have a passion and a drive to farm. Caring for our cows, land and people is what motivates us to get up and farm every day.
One of our main values at Ivy Lakes Dairy is treating our employees well. We strive to create a strong team environment and give our employees the chance to develop new skills and acquire more responsibilities over time, while doing a job they love and supporting themselves and their families.
Another one of our goals is to produce high-quality milk which results in high-quality dairy products for consumers both near and far. Our families drink the milk and eat the dairy products produced by our cows too and we work very hard to make sure it is of the highest quality possible.
What is the biggest challenge you face in dairy farming?
One of our biggest challenges is not having control over marketing our milk or the price that we are paid for it. Since we can’t control the price, we have to control costs in other areas of the business. This can be difficult!
What do you see as the biggest opportunity as part of the future on your dairy farm?
One of our biggest opportunities is our collaboration with other farm businesses. Working with other businesses through partnerships and synergies is a great way to improve both farming operations and efficiencies. Collaboration played a huge role in allowing us to start Ivy Lakes Dairy: the owners at Hathorn farms were looking to take a step back from the daily grind of farming, and we were looking to get our start!
If you could tell consumers one thing about what you do on your farm, what would it be?
We care for our animals and employees on a daily basis. A good example of this is the level of individual care we provide for our animals. For example, when a cow gets sick, we do a bacterial culture to find out what is making her sick. Then we provide her with a customized treatment so that she can get better as quickly as possible.
Anything else you’d like to include.
Farming is truly a labor of love. The partners on our farm spend more hours with their cows and employees than they do with their wives!