Today, it is my honor to introduce Beverly Donovan (age 47) from Benton, Maine! Beverly and her husband, Richard Caverly (age 46). Deer Hill is a small Ayrshire farm with an emphasis on breeding show cows that are productive. The average classification score is 89 on the 14 cows, with 6 of them being first lactation heifers. The current RHA is 22,735 lbs. of 4.8% fat, 3.3% protein milk. Deer Hill is a convention registered Ayrshire herd that is home to 25 cows. Their cows are milked in a mini flat parlor, where 3 big cows fit easily). Their milk is sold to Agrimark Co‐operative where it is sold as fluid milk.
Growing up, Beverly was involved in 4-H and took a wide range of products from general livestock, to arts & crafts and of course dairy! After high school, Beverly attended college and majored in Business Management with an Accounting Concentration. When not farming or working, Beverly enjoys baking and gardening. She has been involved as a 4‐H leader of a dairy club for many years in Massachusetts, a director of MA Ayrshire Club, a director of New England
Ayrshire Club, and show committee member of U.S. Ayrshire Breeders’ Association.
Today, Beverly is probably enjoying a coconut custard pie with whipped cream and her favorite dairy product is milk because she can’t go a day without drinking milk!
Beverly’s Story in her own words:
Did you have another profession before you started farming? I have farmed since I was a kid, but I became an accountant after college and have worked in that field ever since. My grandparents were dairy farmers, and it was always a dream of mine to follow in their footsteps. Shipping milk allows me to continue to expand my herd and feed my addiction to cows!
When did you start farming? Deer Hill Ayrshires began as a 4‐H project, first for my brother and then for me when I
was 8 years old. My Wickland grandparents were both Ayrshire breeders since they were youngsters and my Mom and her 6 siblings all showed cows. Growing up within a mile of my grandparents’ farm and hanging out during chores gave me a front row seat to view of all the ‘fun’ they had caring for the cows and to help out a bit. In 2010 when Richard and I got married, I had 11 Ayrshires and the herd was expanding with our ‘heifer boom’. With several cows milking and several heifers growing up fast, we made the decision in August 2012 to start shipping milk. Richard is a fifth generation farmer, and I am a third generation farmer, so it’s just continuing a tradition our families have had for many years. After all these years, I still find doing chores ‘fun’ work!
What has been the most rewarding part of farming for you? The most rewarding part of farming is having the privilege of caring for beautiful bovines that work hard to provide milk for the local community. Our Deer Hill milk is processed in Maine and sold locally by Hood, so it’s a moment of pride to see Hood milk in grocery carts at the store and know that we helped provide for those families. What has been the most challenging part of farming for you? There are lots of challenges for the dairy industry in general, and educating the public is a major one that we all have to work on together. For Deer Hill, an ongoing challenge with the herd is to find bulls that fit my breeding program in order to continue to make progress developing Ayrshires that are ‘pretty and productive’.
Tell me a unique story about your farm. Deer Hill Ayrshires is home to the first and only known Ayrshire clone in the world, the clone of Sweet Pepper Black Francesca. Francesca made history by being the only Ayrshire to win grand champion at a national show for four consecutive years. She also won 4 total performance awards and 4 production awards at national shows during 2011‐2012, Unanimous All‐American 3 years in a row, Unanimous All‐Canadian in 2012, and was All‐World during her last 2 years. After her untimely death in December 2012, her DNA was preserved, and 7 months later, I made the decision to order a clone. Francesca once again made history this year when her clone was born in May (2014).
What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting into farming? There are two things that I think are equally important: First, try to learn all you can from other farmers beforehand, visiting various farms to see operations and even better, working at one or more successful farms (which is a good way to find mentors, too). Second, maybe it is the accountant in me, but make sure you become financially knowledgeable and take time to analyze finances to keep your debt and cash flows at acceptable levels to you and your farm. I have seen people in all industries that are just amazing at their work, but they fail financially because they lack financial management skills.
Beverly, thank you for taking time to participate in our “Thirty Days of Dairy” series.
Entire “Thirty Days of Dairy” Series:
Sarah & Andy Birch – Derby, VT – the dairy farmers that were my inspiration for the 30 Days of Dairy!
Melissa Collman – Boring, OR – an organic dairy farmer from the West Coast!
Macy Sarbacker – Belleville, WI – a blogger, editor and dairy farmer from American’s Dairyland!
Karen Bohnert – East Moline, IL – a very talented writer, Mom and Jersey lover from my state!
Lisa Myers – Hamstead, MD – one of my best friends that moved back home to run their dairy!
Rebecca Schlehlein – Platteville, WI – a dedicated farm employee that loves her Brown Swiss!
Heather Moore – Maquoketa, IA – Special Events Coordinator turned Dairy Farmer!
Katie Dotterer-Pyle – Union Bridge, MD – Spanish teacher and dairy farmer that makes sure her cows enjoy their stay!
Brent Pollard – Rockford, IL – an innovative dairy farmer who loves to tinker with things.
Krista Stauffer – Washington – a 1st generation dairy farmer and very talented AGvogate for the dairy industry!
Diane Loew – Byron, MI – a writer, blogger and dairy farmer from Michigan!
Nicole Fletcher – Southampton, MA – a Cabot Creamery dairy that milks Holsteins & Jersey’s!
Elinor Opitz – Maple Lake, MN – a young lady just starting her Ayrshire dairy!
Alise Sjostrom – Brooten, MN – one of the readheads behind Redhead Creamery!
Tara McIntosh – Ontario, Canada – our only dairy farmer featured from Canada!
Jenna Kilgus – Fairbury, IL – a Jersey dairy farmer that bottles their own homogenized milk!
Will Gilmer – Sulligent, AL – our only dairy farmer from the “south”!
Gene Zimmerman – Colby, WI – our only dairy goat farmer featured this month!
Darleen Moore-Sichley – Oregon – a Mom, AGvocate and Gurnsey dairy farmer!
Michelle Eilenstine – Mountain Grove, MO – a dairy farmer & University of Missouri grad!
Jenni Tilton-Flood – Clinton, Maine – a Cabot Creamery dairy that milks 3400 Holsteins!
Kalli Ehrhardt – Baldwin, MD – A Mom and dairy farmer!
Craig Swenson – River Fall, WI – a dairy farmer who loves his red & whites!
Katie Harris – Washington – a mom & dairy farmer from Western Washington!
Annaliese Wegner – Ettrick, WI – the Modern-day Farm Chick!
Morgan Kliebenstein – Darlington, WI – a dairy farmer, Genex employee, Mom & wife!
Matt & Joe Engel – Hampshire, IL – the brother behind Luck-E Holsteins!
Stephanie Aves – Popular Grove, IL – a dairy farmer & agriculture teacher!
Beverly Donovan – Benton, Maine – a dairy farmer & accountant!
Sadie Frericks – Melrose, MN – a dedicated AGvocate, dairy farmer, mom & wife!
Greg Schulte – Darlington, WI – the cheesemaker at Brunkow Cheese!
Katie Deslippe – St Mary Ontario – a young lady that loves everything about dairy!
Carrie Mess – Lake Mills, WI – the well-known AGvocate Dairy Carrie!
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