Today, it’s time to travel west to the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon to meet Darleen Mann-Sichley (age 27). I typically write an introduction about the dairy farmers featured but today Darleen is going to tell you about her family and farm. Just like you and me, Darleen is a consumer that enjoys wholesome dairy products but lists yogurt and chocolate milk as her favorites.
Darleen’s Story in her own words:
My husband Ben and I, in partnership with my parents, operate Abiqua Acres, Mann’s Guernsey Dairy in Oregon. We milk 90 registered Guernseys, and are one of the few 100% Guernsey herds in the country. We are completely family run, our two young boys Mason 3 1/2 and Nolan 9 months round out the work force. Our farm consists of 100 acres that we rotationally graze for as many months out of the year as Oregon weather allows. We are not crop farmers, with the exception of our calf grass hay, all feeds are purchased off farm. We are a part of the farmer owned co-op Darigold once our milk leaves our farm we have no say in it’s final destination. Being a high component herd, our milk is often combined with other high herds for products that require more fat and protein; yogurt, ice cream and butter are often the final destination for our milk.
I did not attend college, and in fact spent most of my childhood thinking dairying is not what I wanted to end up doing. I loved growing up on the farm, but my heart and thoughts definitely were headed in a different direction. After High School I spent a year off the farm and that is when I discovered I really couldn’t leave the life of dairy farming behind. My boyfriend at the time (now husband) was fully supportive of my my choice. We ended up moving back to the farm in 2006, were married in 2007, joined my parents as partners in 2008 and have both been on the farm full time since 2010. I love my “job” and can’t imagine any other life style, so the rest is history! I think to truly find happiness, you really need to be in career that speaks to you and you can embrace with your whole being. That is what dairy farming is for me.
What has been the most rewarding part of farming for you? What has been the most challenging? I think the most rewarding and challenging part of farming are one and the same for me; family farming. I love working side by side with my husband, parents and kids, I feel it truly strengthens our relationships on so many levels. Part of that is also it can be challenging to work around feelings that are associated with work challenges. Some days some topics and decisions just have to stay at the barn. Raising two young boys has also been a challenge for me. Taking a step back from my duties on the farm has been really hard to wrap my head around. I still am involved everyday, it’s just definitely different with two kids in tow who’s needs come first. But that challenge leads to amazing reward in just spending so much time together as a family! I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Who is your favorite cow? My favorite cow is Prestigue Jesusita – EX 92. She is my favorite not just because she is one of the best cows in our herd, but because she has an awesome personality. Our Ladies are our co-workers and we spend every day with them. So you learn their personalities, like and dislikes, really everything about them and some just stand out as characters; Jesusita is one of them. She is always one of the first cow sin the parlor, and intelligence abound she will trip the switch to get through our prep stall so she can spend some extra time eating grain! She likes to have attention, but is also all business. She was born on Christmas Eve (hence the name!) and will celebrate her 13th birthday this year. She is leaving quite a legacy behind with 3 milking daughters currently in our herd, 10 offspring total, with her first Grand Granddaughter being born earlier this month. She is just really the epitome of our ultimate cow and it has been an amazing honor to get to work with her!
Tell me a unique story about your farm. A little unique tidbit about our farm; our farm was purchased in 1938 by my Great Grandparents so that my Grandmother would have the opportunity to attend High School. My Grandmother Delores married my Grandpa Paul in 1942 and they purchased the farm shortly after. A few cows have always been milked here, but our first registered Guernsey was purchased in 1952. We still have descendants of that original cow in our herd today.
What is one message you’d like to get across to the general public about what you do? I wish everyone understood that 98% of farms are family farms just like ours. There is a huge misconception in large part to the disconnect of the average person from farming, that large corporations and “big ag” is running the dairy industry. That is just not true. I am a proud 3rd generation dairy farmer and hope the future will allow for my boys in follow as the 4th if they so choose. That will take some trust and support on the consumers side. We are in this profession because we truly love what we do! It takes a lot of hard work to be a dairy farmer, it’s a 365 days a year commitment that we are in to provide dairy products for you. I share on social media my dairy farming story because I want the public to see who we are as a family farm.
Darleen, thank you for taking time to participate in our “Thirty Days of Dairy” series. If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to our blog (no spam, just an email when we post a new blog) so you don’t miss any posts
Earlier “Thirty Days of Dairy” features this month include:
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!
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!
For a listing of all the 30 Days Bloggers that Holly Spangler rounded up, visit here.