It’s a question I have been asked several times, and honestly some days it’s a question I ask myself. To give you a little background, I am a third-generation dairy farmer in Virginia on my family farm, Richlands Dairy. I work with my dad, brother, sister-in-law, and a crew of guys to milk and take care of 230 milk cows and 200 young stock every day, in addition to growing about 500 acres of corn and 250 acres of winter cover crops for feed.
Farming also offers many challenges and opportunities for personal growth. Lately, the challenges within the dairy industry seem insurmountable, but growing up on the farm and looking back at the last 13 years since I started dairy farming full-time, I see those challenges as life-forming.
There are many factors that farmers do not control, and yet every day and every season we bet the farm on it. We can’t control the weather to make a good crop. We can’t control input prices or even what we get paid for milk.
I now devote my attention to building Richlands Creamery, as well as managing and expanding our agritourism events. It will be up to my generation to make sure the farm is still here and a viable choice. It is up to us to persevere.
“Perhaps one of the most important lessons the farm has taught me is gratitude and appreciation.”
Coley Jones Drinkwater is a third-generation dairy farmer at Richlands Dairy Farm in Blackstone, VA.