Wilson County Fair Honors Dairy Farmers With Its Theme “mAGic Memories”
Lebanon, TN - There are moments that make up a life, some simple,
others extraordinary. It is these moments that transcend the ordinary to
touch our hearts. They bring us together -
When everyone gets together at the Wilson County Fair - It’s mAGic!
The food, rides, pageants, exhibits, tractor pulls, showing livestock, music and entertainment - It’s mAGic!
Winning that blue ribbon for the first time – It’s mAGic!
Agriculture - It feeds us, clothes us, shelters us
Today, we see the apple, but not the apple tree and the farmer who
planted and nurtured it. We covet the wood flooring in luxury housing,
but ignore the forest. The water flowing from our kitchen tap quenches
our thirst without a thought to its source.
What would our life be like without AGriculture?
The 2018 Wilson County Fair will be honoring our dairy farms and
families as we celebrate “Year of Milk” as the agriculture commodity and
making more mAGic memories.
A life of early mornings, long days of hard work and braving the
elements day in and day out 365 days a year may not sound appealing to
everyone, but for Wilson County’s dairy farmers, this is the lifestyle
they have happily chosen.
mAGic Memories are abundant on a dairy farm.Looking out over the
farm, raising children and grandchildren to experience morning and
afternoon milking, bottle feeding baby calves, harvesting crops, baling
hay – the many chores involved with stewardship of the land and cattle
bring families closer together.
“Watching three little boys grow up and have the whole farm
experience:playing in the creek, showing calves, seeing the natural life
and death experience and growing up to be good people” are the mAGic
Memories for Roy Major, patriarch of Major Dairy Farm, where he and
wife, Diane, raised sons Josh, Seth and Jared.Grandchildren Carter and
Addison are now experiencing that same mAGic.Major Dairy Farm was
established in 1979.
“It’s a good way of life,” echoes Larry Eastes of Eastes Dairy
Farm.“A dairy farm is a good place to raise a family, to get to be with
them every day and see them grow.”
Eastes’s farm will reach Century Farm status in 2019 – with 100 years
of continuous dairy operation.Established by his grandparents, Ernest
and Allie Driver, the farm was then operated by his parents John D. and
Ernestine Eastes before Larry took the reins.His son, Kirk, helps daily
on the farm, while daughter Lora Eastes Stutts is a 5
teacher in Watertown.Both live on the farm with their own families, and
Larry’s grandchildren are growing up steeped in farm life just as their
Brothers Jeffrey, Justin and Jason Turner grew up milking cows, and
Jeffrey and Justin decided to open their own dairy on the family farm,
milking their first Holsteins on December 9, 2015.Their parents, Tommy
and Jackie Turner, got out of the dairy business in the early 2000’s,
but Jeffrey has fond memories of going to the barn with his dad to milk,
or when he was too small to help, waiting for his dad to come in from
milking so the family could sit down together for the evening meal.It’s
all about family.And even though Jason isn’t a partner in the new dairy,
he helps out too.
Holsteins are the predominant dairy breed in Wilson County, with the
Turners having 100% Holsteins; the Eastes family having about 80 percent
Holstein plus Jersey and a few Brown Swiss; and Major Dairy Farm having
95 percent registered Holstein, plus a few Brown Swiss, Ayrshire and
Jerseys – from acquiring additional breeds for the youngsters to show
through 4-H.Eastes milks about 80 a day, the Turners about 100 and the
Majors average 200 to 220.That translates to tons of milk in a year:8 to
8.5 million pounds of milk annually, combined.
While dairy farming is a beloved way of life, it’s one that today is
more challenging than ever before.Volatile markets and only one buyer
for the area leave these hard working families at the mercy of whatever
price they are given.Margins are slim to negative.Giant corporate dairy
farms that load out full tankers of milk daily are tough for these
family farms to compete against.Prohibitively high land costs make
expansion pretty much impossible.But these dairy farmers are accustomed
to adversity and do their best to survive and thrive.
Roy Major hopes to see market corrections bring some stability in the
future so his farm can continue to provide the dairy farming
opportunity for his grandchildren.The Eastes family already has
diversified by building up their herd of beef cattle.Larry’s dream is to
at least keep operating the dairy through the 100-year anniversary in
2019, but without market changes, they may transition completely to
beef.As the youngest dairy farm in Wilson County, the Turner Dairy Farm
would like to expand and is exploring options to eliminate the market
volatility they face today.
Through it all, they pull together as strong families rooted to
the land and cattle they care so deeply for, making more mAGic memories
as the days pass by.