Pleased to Feed You, Kathy Davis

Our family: Jesse, my cousin; Steve and Deb, my uncle and aunt; myself; and Janet and Carl, my parents. I am married to Nate, who works off the farm as a computer programmer/analyst. Steve and Dad do the general overseeing of the farm (crops, equipment, repairs to buildings) and the employees. Deb does the bookkeeping for the dairy. Mom does additional bookwork and works with the baby calves. I oversee the young stock and do fieldwork. Jesse is our herdsman.

Hometown: Perrysville, in Ashland County

Crops and history
: Jesse and I are the seventh generation on the farm, which has been in the family since 1813. We raise 800 acres of corn, 500 acres of soybeans and 500 acres of rye for heifer feed. We have 100 acres for pasture and 100 acres of orchard grass that is baled for dry cow hay. We milk about 600 Holstein cows; each cow is milked three times a day.

What is challenging about dairy farming?
What isn’t? Every year’s a gamble and you don’t know what the weather and markets are going to do. In the winter, (it’s a challenge) getting enough clothes on to stay warm and still be able to move.

Achievements: Top 5 percent of milk and protein production in Ohio. We’ve also received the Gold Standard from Dairy Farmers of America for the quality of our milk.

What motivates you professionally? The challenge and thrill of a job well done. When you see well-tended crops growing, the bountiful harvest, contented cows chewing their cuds, or heifers running across a green pasture (as long as they stop at the electric fence) and know that you’ve helped make that happen.

How does your family make working together on the farm successful? Thankfully we’re large enough that we all have our own niche and aren’t continually stepping on each other’s toes. We’re also small enough that we can call and have help when we need it. We have a weekend rotation and encourage each other to take vacation.

Biggest misconception about farming
: You “just” farm. What other job requires you to be a veterinarian, accountant, stock broker, mechanic, PR manager, personnel specialist, agronomist, meteorologist, genetic specialist, computer operator, shipping and receiving director and shovel operator, all before noon?

Why are you a Farm Bureau member?
As a group, our voice is stronger than if we stand alone, especially as the number of active farmers in the country dwindles.

What’s interesting about Ashland County? (There are) many interesting things in Ashland: Mohican State Park and Forest, Pleasant Hill Lake, canoeing, hunting, camping, a great library, good schools, sports, beautiful land, and (it’s) halfway between Columbus and Cleveland.

What do you do for fun?
I like playing sports and reading. Nate and I enjoy kayaking, jazz and dancing, though Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have nothing to fear. We also would like to do some more traveling.

Family traditions
: Ice Cream! We enjoy making and eating homemade ice cream. Apple butter making, family gatherings at holidays.

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.