All photography provided by Laurie and Dan Brooks
If a person can be born a profession, then Dan was born a dairy farmer.
Dan's family established its farm in central NY state in 1856. He is a fifth generation dairyman, having grown up milking those mostly hosltein cows. Deciding to leave the family farm was a long overdue decision in 2009, but a necessary one. 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. But it was Dan's knowledge, experience, and skill 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 12 and that was the best dozen 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 from being a member of the Brooks family farm in NY state to 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, made its way to Consider Bardwell Farm just as Margot 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. All the pieces fell into place after that, albeit with a lot of jiggling and pushing and fiddling. And while not all of those pieces fit exactly perfectly together, we've made most of them work. Sort of.
Of course we had to pay homage to the one who found us our farm.... Oscar, the Wayward Goose.