Dan's family established its farm in central NY state in 1856. He is a fifth generation dairyman, having grown up milking mostly holstein cows for the conventional dairy market. Deciding to leave the family farm was a long overdue, but necessary, decision in 2009. Through many twists of fate, we found our current home. Even though it had been disused and abused for at least 50 years and would need extensive work, we could see the potential in the barn. The pastures had lain fallow for almost that long but Dan knew that just having animals graze them would be a good start at bringing them back to life. He was right. It was Dan's knowledge, experience, and skill, however, that helped make them the diverse and productive sources of forage that they are today. Finding cows was the next challenge. As so often happens, one person's negative becomes another's positive and this was the case for our herd. Just as our barn renovations were nearing completion, a family farm in Leicester, VT was going through a transition much like the one we had just experienced and they were auctioning off their herd of beautiful registered Jersey cows. We were able to purchase 15 and that was the best bunch of anything we ever bought. So, in May of 2011, as that first truckload of golden girls arrived, our farm was established.
Our partnership with Consider Bardwell Farm began with our daughter Margot. Soon after graduating college in 2008 she became one of their cheesemakers. Meanwhile, we were beginning our transition away from being part of the Brooks family farm in NY state to reinventing ourselves and finding a new path of our own. We had no clear idea of where we would go or even what we would do. At about this time, a strange old goose, blind and deaf, stumbled into Margot as she was leaving the creamery to take a break one summer day. A little investigation revealed that it belonged to the semi reclusive next door neighbor, where Margot learned that the goose, Oscar, was 20 years old and its lifelong companion goose had just died. More importantly, she also learned that the neighbor was planning to move south as soon as he could sell his property. Meanwhile, Consider Bardwell was in need of a partner farm, someone to supply them with cows' milk with which to make their cheese. The pieces slowly fell into place after that, albeit with a lot of jiggling and pushing and fiddling. And for over 8 years it mostly worked.
Then in October 2019, due to their own in-house problems, Consider Bardwell Farm’s collapse and subsequent sudden closure meant the overnight loss of our sole milk market. And just like that, we were forced to reinvent ourselves once again. Facing the coming winter with no milk market, and therefore no income, but with all the financial burden of feeding, milking, and caring for 50 cows/calves, plus all of our other expenses, gave us no choice but to immediately sell as many of our beloved cows as we could, reducing our herd by half, and cut daily milkings to once per day instead of 2.
And 5 months later Covid hit, creating a global disaster that made our situation even more challenging. Since then we've been pivoting and adapting until our heads spin, whittling the herd down even more, and diversifying our business to include a market garden, farm to table dinners, raising pork and meat chickens along with our beef, continuing to host farm stays and offering farm "experiences" both through Airbnb, and starting a Patreon among many other things. The focus of our farm business now, however, is our on site market. Out of necessity we've evolved from being dairy farmers contracted to produce a lot of milk for someone else to being dairy farmers independent of any outside entity, producing milk of the highest quality which we sell directly to consumers in our little farm store along with products from so many other wonderful growers and makers. But you can read all about that in the Farm Market section.
Oh! Our name! Of course we had to pay homage to the one who found us our farm... Oscar, the Wayward Goose! And our daughter Margot? She and her family milk a small herd of Brown Swiss cows and make cheese on their own little farm in the Adirondacks, Sugarhouse Creamery, and you can usually find their cheese in our market!
All of the illustrations on the site are made by Laurie through her art studio, Toad in the Hole Studio. You can find artwork to purchase and learn more about her process by visiting her website.