Dairy farm family
gives up business
From The Marietta
Times, Saturday, May 7, 1977
By Adella Wacker, Times Staff Writer
the Willow Island Locks and Dam have nudged brothers Richard D., 54, and Donald
M. Brown, 52, out of the dairy business.
On April 26
Richard—Dick—paced in his muddy boots outside the milking parlor, watching
Newport Pike for a cattle truck. That
afternoon the last of the mostly-Guernsey dairy herd went for sale at the
Farmer’s Livestock market on Marietta’s
West Side: three for slaughter, 11 for dairy.
following morning Dick was able to sleep in, getting up at 6:30 a.m. instead of starting his day at 4:30, because for the first time in
36 years he would not have to worry about milking cows in the damp morning
Richard L., 24, helped load the Guernseys on
the auction truck at the Brown’s farmyard.
His wife Ruth Eloiuse watched.
Don’s daughter, Jayne Snell, took pictures.
Don was at work at American
Cyanamid Co., however. He has worked
there since the 1960s when construction on Willow Island
began. Dick also works at another job in
addition to farming and milking. In
April he completed 30 years as a bus driver for the Marietta Local and Marietta City School District. He quit driving the Newport Pike bus route
and went to work full time in the bus garage.
The U. S.
Army Corp of Engineers demanded 25 cropland acres from the Browns for the locks
and dam project in about 1966. “I just
didn’t see how there was a living for the both of us,” said Don about his
decision to work outside the dairy farm.
“I knew we weren’t going to be able to have as many cows.”
remaining 260 acres along the Pike include a lot of woods, 30 acres of cropland
and 76 acres of pasture, Don estimates.
have enlarged their operation by buying feed rather than growing it, enlarging
the herd to 100 or more head and trying to make that way. As his wife Isabelle said, “You’ve got to be
into it pretty big if you’re going to make a living at it nowdays.”
could slowly go out of the business. The
brothers considered the dairy market, the size of their farm and their age, and
decided two or three years ago to let the size of their herd dwindle.
hate to see ’em go,” Isabelle said, “but we were going to have to start
replacing the herd.”
who lives with her husband in the original brick family home on the farm,
regrets seeing them go. Back from a
career as an airline stewardess based in Washington, D. C., she had just
learned how to make homemade butter.
She has stories
about like the time company representatives came to the Brown farm to
demonstrate the new Surge milker to area farmers and got their clean clothes
covered with mud and cow manure. Or
about the half-Brown Swiss and half-Hereford cow the Browns decided to
all agreed selling the dairy herd was the best thing.
a certain point in your life when you wonder if your husbands are going to have
to work this hard the rest of their lives,” said Isabelle.
thought along the same line: “I guess the older we got the less we felt like
putting in long hours….It takes a young man to do it all that.”
he will be able to take a little more vacation time. Don repeated a saying about dairy farmers
that pegged the situation: “One thing you know, you’re not going to need any
good clothes because you’re not going to go any place.”
the Brown’s say they had it better than most diary farmers. At least they could trade milking and farm
chores with each other. Between them
they had three sons who helped when they were at home. Don’s sons, Mark and John, have moved away.
brothers started out with Brown Swiss dairy cows. The family moved to the farm in 1938. Don was 16 and Dick, 18, when they began
dairying. Later they sold Golden
Guernsey milk to William Greenwood, Newport.
War II and Korea
were over and they returned home from the Navy, the brothers stepped up to a
Grade A operation. In 1965 the dairy
herd hit its peak with 53 head.
about 1966 when construction of the four-lane Ohio 7 highway began next to the Browns. A
year later, they moved the original Brown home across that highway, across from
the acres bought by the U.S. Army Corp of engineers to the other side of the
Pike. The brothers and their families
live in two other houses on the farm.
been about 10 years that the Willow Island Locks and Dam changed their scenery
on the river.
kind of bitter about it,” admits Don.