Anyone who has ventured to leave the confines of the Rt. 309 corridor, know that this mountain has a very diverse landscape and population. Traveling down roads in Dorrance and Hollenback Townships on a sunny day can make one marvel at the beauty of the farms spread out along rolling hills. Martin Smith owns one of those farms; a fourth generation farmer that lives the challenges and the joy of the modern day farmer.
Martin took over farm operations from his grandfather, Ralph Huttenstine, in 1981. At the time, the farm raised and milked dairy cows. In fact, Martin remembers going with his grandfather to deliver milk to residents in Rice and Slocum Townships. The farm milked their own cows and sold milk until 2001 when they decided to sell the herd. They continued to raise animals on the farm, however, as contracted to raise calves for other dairy farmers who do not have the room or staff time to raise them until they are old enough to breed and produce milk. Smith and his son, Ben, now nurse and nurture the baby calves until they are about 15 months old, when they breed them and send them back to their dairy farms, prepared to produce milk.
The day is hectic and begins with morning care and feeding. Some calves still need to be fed by a bottle, and Smith and his son make the formula. Some are ready to be fed by a bucket and some are weaned off milk completely. Martin says the way it is structured is a lot like how our school system cares for elementary, middle and high school students –each level giving the student what he or she needs and providing them with the tools to move to the next level of maturity. There is a barn for the babies who have yet to receive their vaccinations and be weaned off the bottle. The calves are in another barn until they are weaned off milk altogether, and another barn houses those one-year and up until they become pregnant and are returned to their owners.
Although much goes into the care of the animals, Martin says he does not get attached to them in the roughly 15 months they are in his care the same way he did to the cows he used to milk every day, but he does find a strong sense of satisfaction when he comes across animals he had previously raised on another farm.
“I get a lot of satisfaction when I go back to where that calf came from and see them doing well for their owners as adults,” says Martin.
He explains that the health of the cow plays a major role in their
See Farm page 4