Pictures and story by Jessica Rose.
County Field Nights are a long held tradition for the Pennsylvania Holstein Association. The county clubs organize the event at a different farm each year, allowing you to see various operations. Every summer producers look forward to spending the evening judging cows, winning door prizes, eating a catered meal and socializing with other local dairy farmers.
On the evening of July 9, 2009, the Schuylkill County Holstein Field Night was held at ETC farms, the home of Earl and Tamie Campbell and family. Their son Grant serves as the herdsman. Earl and Tamie’s other three sons, Glen, Garth and Garet, and their families also help on the farm. The farm milks 110 Holsteins twice daily with a rolling herd average of 24,000 lbs and fat and protein tests of 3.7 and 3.1, respectively. The farm also produces most of their own feed.
The theme of the evening was “R U Proud to Dairy?” There was a large board for people to write a statement on why they are proud to dairy. Grant Campbell wrote, “I’m proud to produce a complete, wholesome product to fuel America. Also, dairying allows me to work hard showcasing many talents which yield many rewards.”
But Tamie Campbell’s comments summed up everyone’s feelings in a few words. “I’m proud to dairy because my husband is proud. It’s not about making money; it’s a lifestyle. Without the lifestyle, farming is just work.”
Whenever I asked someone why they were proud, the resounding majority said something along the lines of “It’s a great way to raise a family,” or “It’s been in my family for generations.” According to James Hoffman, an A.I. salesman who owns a few of his own Holsteins, “I want to continue the traditions of my family, work for myself and I like a challenge. Dairy farming isn’t the world’s simplest profession, but it’s amazingly satisfying.”
Despite a poor economy, everyone in attendance was optimistic about the future. “When the dairy industry in Pennsylvania starts to decline, the overall PA economy goes down with it. Without dairy farmers, the world would not survive,” said John Frey, the key note speaker for the evening. Frey works for the Center for Dairy Excellence, an organization that provides resources to producers to help them further their business and make plans for the future.
Overall, the night was a success. Schuylkill County, PA is proud to dairy!