Peek inside North Country dairy farm life

Tim Yancey repairs the corn planter on the family farm in Belfort. Farmers must troubleshoot daily. As Mark Akins said, “We’ll have breakdowns every day, we’ll have something go wrong, who knows what it’ll be, but something will go wrong every day.” Photo: Martha Cooper.

Tim Yancey repairs the corn planter on the family farm in Belfort. Farmers must troubleshoot daily. As Mark Akins said, “We’ll have breakdowns every day, we’ll have something go wrong, who knows what it’ll be, but something will go wrong every day.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY.

A new photography exhibit about life on dairy farms in northern New York opened last weekend at Traditional Arts in Upstate New York in Canton. “Every Single Day: Life on North Country Dairy Farms" features photographs from 15 farms taken by internationally renowned photographer Martha Cooper. It also includes excerpts from interviews with more than 20 farmers and employees.

“We wanted to offer a glimpse at the complexity of dairy farming today,” explains TAUNY project director Hannah Harvester. “Farming is a really particular kind of livelihood–farmers tend to work closely with their families, close to home, they’re working with live animals and big forces like the weather. One minute they’re wrenching boulders out of the ground and the next minute they’re helping birth a calf. They face huge challenges like a milk pricing system that’s totally out of their control and a shortage of labor, but when they talk about what they love about farming you can see why they stay in it.”

The photos are really beautiful and revealing, and include my good friend from our Year on the Farm series, Bob Andrews. So thanks to TAUNY, if you're not able to make it to Canton to see the exhibit in person, here are some of the photos. If you are passing through Canton (or live here), it's worth your while to make a special stop.

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Bob Andrews putting up fence for new pasture on his land in Fowler. “I like the end of the day and you look over your shoulder and you can see that you’ve accomplished something…” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY.

John Peck, Sr., with his beef cattle in Great Bend. The Pecks raise several cattle breeds because, according to John, “Sometimes you have to have a little fun with farming because you’re not making anything on the milk, and it’s nice to see the different varieties.” His mother Helen added, “They look pretty in the field.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

John Peck, Sr., with his beef cattle in Great Bend. The Pecks raise several cattle breeds because, according to John, “Sometimes you have to have a little fun with farming because you’re not making anything on the milk, and it’s nice to see the different varieties.” His mother Helen added, “They look pretty in the field.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

 

Chris, a farm worker for two years, helps with milking and cares for calves and dry cows, including assisting with births. He hopes to continue his education when he returns to Mexico. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY.

Chris, a farm worker for two years, helps with milking and cares for calves and dry cows, including assisting with births. He hopes to continue his education when he returns to Mexico. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY.

 

Miles Gendebien checking on his goats after a baseball game. He and his brothers raise goats as a way to be involved in farm chores without doing the dangerous work of caring for cows. As his father Blake said, “When I was a kid we fed the cows with wheelbarrows and scoops, but now it's skid steers, tractors, large feeder mixers. I can’t have them do the things I was doing. It’s too dangerous. But I worry that I wouldn't be able to attract their interest at an older age. So the goats are working out as something to keep their interest.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

Miles Gendebien checking on his goats after a baseball game. He and his brothers raise goats as a way to be involved in farm chores without doing the dangerous work of caring for cows. As his father Blake said, “When I was a kid we fed the cows with wheelbarrows and scoops, but now it's skid steers, tractors, large feeder mixers. I can’t have them do the things I was doing. It’s too dangerous. But I worry that I wouldn't be able to attract their interest at an older age. So the goats are working out as something to keep their interest.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

Blake Gendebien’s haymow, nearly empty in May and ready to be filled again. Bob Thompson owned the farm from 1954 until he retired from farming in 1992. He said, “I really enjoy going there and seeing what they’ve done with it. It does me good to see a family move in there that is willing to work and maintain that farm…and make a good living there, and make it look respectable.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

Blake Gendebien’s haymow, nearly empty in May and ready to be filled again. Bob Thompson owned the farm from 1954 until he retired from farming in 1992. He said, “I really enjoy going there and seeing what they’ve done with it. It does me good to see a family move in there that is willing to work and maintain that farm…and make a good living there, and make it look respectable.” Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

 

Chris Dihrberg, an Adon Farms employee, releasing cows from the parlor after milking. On Adon Farms, 1200 cows are milked in three shifts of six hours each, round the clock. The parlor handles 40 animals at a time. Parlors dramatically reduce milking time per cow compared to traditional milking, where the milker moves from cow to cow. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

Chris Dihrberg, an Adon Farms employee, releasing cows from the parlor after milking. On Adon Farms, 1200 cows are milked in three shifts of six hours each, round the clock. The parlor handles 40 animals at a time. Parlors dramatically reduce milking time per cow compared to traditional milking, where the milker moves from cow to cow. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

 

The Yanceys. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

The Yanceys. Photo: Martha Cooper/TAUNY

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