‘No better place to live’ than on the farm

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is another installment in a series of columns to run weekly highlighting the area’s agricultural community.

When visitors arrive at our farm, one of the first questions we get is, “why is it called Six Point Acres?”

My response is simple: The badge issued to me nearly 12 years ago when I had the honor of being sworn in as the 59th Sheriff of Oneida County is a six-point star that I proudly wear every day.

The next question we get is, why do you have a farm?

Our answer to that is a little more complex. For me, I was introduced to farming at a very young age. My mom was the oldest of 10 children who were all raised on a dairy farm in Holland Patent operated by my grandparents. My mom’s three brothers all went on to run their own dairy farms, one of which I spent the vast majority of my teenage years working and developing a love for farming. It is also where my dream and desire to some day have my own farm came from.

My uncle Larry Hobin, who is by far the hardest working man that I have ever known, is the one who taught me how to be a farmer. I still practice the tricks and secrets of being a successful farmer I learned from him 35 years ago. Feeding and caring for the cows; operating tractors and equipment; building and fixing fences and harvesting crops are all things I learned from him.

My wife, Tammy, at a very young age, was removed from her home and placed into a foster home. For some, that is a scary and unpleasant thing to have happen to them, but for Tammy it was one of the most memorable and stable things of her childhood for nearly three years. The foster home she was placed in was on a working dairy farm in New Hartford. There, she fell in love with cows, horses, and country life. Although she hasn’t lived on that farm for about 40 years, she continues to maintain a close relationship with her foster parents, Brymer and Wendy Humphreys.

When Tammy and I met in our early 20’s and began to date, we quickly learned that we had the dream of owning our own farm in common. We made a promise to each other that we would work hard — and when the time was right— we would make that dream come true and buy our own farm.

That dream came true in 2015 when we purchased our farm in the town of Steuben,  just three miles from the very same farm that I worked for my uncle on. Although we would have loved to operate a dairy farm, we knew that with my law enforcement career having very unpredictable work hours, Tammy’s career at a local school, and raising three children — milking cows just wasn’t an option. We chose the next best option: raising beef cows.

We purchased our first two Hereford/Simenthal cows from former Madison County Sheriff Al Reilly in 2015.Those two were followed by a small herd of Hereford Cows from a farmer in Cherry Valley. Fast forward to today, we have 55 head of cattle that consist of 51 Herefords, three Red Angus, and one Wagu. Our small customer base continues to grow year after year — our goal (that we are almost at) is to sell 10 steers annually by halves or quarters.

We pride ourselves on raising top grade beef by giving great care to our cattle with lots of human interaction and providing them with high quality feed. For the first four and a half years of raising our cows, we fed them only hay and grass with a little bit a grain.  Six months ago, we incorporated corn silage into one of their two daily feedings and we have seen an incredible acceleration in their growth which I believe will, in turn, produce even better tasting beef.

In our opinion, there is no better place to live than on a farm. From seeing the beautiful sunrise out of the kitchen window, to seeing baby calves being born, to filling the dinner table with vegetables from the garden, to spending hours a tractor smelling fresh cut hay. On the flip side, there’s the need to be out of bed at 4:30 a.m. in order to get to work on time. There’s frozen water pipes in the winter, and the cows occasionally get loose in the summer. There’s also no summer vacations because that’s when the hay is made. You will never get rich being a farmer, but it’s all worth it to us.

Lastly, there’s several the reasons for our success on the farm. First is the family support from our children, my uncles, and cousins. Secondly is the incredible support system that we have from our friends and neighbors. I’ve called on them for help with one thing or another at some of the most bizarre times of the day and they have never said no; we are forever grateful to them for that. 

— For comments on this series, e-mail Sentinel photojournalist John Clifford at jclifford@RNYmedia.com.

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