Change for the Better
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Just ask Cathy Davis, who’s watched Silver Valley Farm change over the past few decades, yet it still remains a family operation.
“We’re into our fourth generation, but there seems to be something better down the road, so each generation has had to change.”
Apparently, change is good: Silver Valley Farm in New Sharon is the 2014 Maine winner of the New England Green Pastures Award. The award is given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states, with winners evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying.
Silver Valley Farm was started in the 1940’s by George and Clara Davis. At that time, the couple grew crops and managed a herd of show-winning Herefords, but they soon started dairy farming with Holsteins.
The couple’s son, Richard, and wife Cathy owned the farm from the early 1960’s. A self-described “town girl,” Cathy wasn’t familiar with farm life, but she worked with her husband to develop an award-winning Holstein herd. (In fact, Richard and Cathy received the New England Green Pastures Award for their quality herd in 1974.)
As Cathy noted, change is inevitable, and the family has continued to improve the operation. In 2005, Silver Valley Farm transitioned to organic and soon started shipping milk to Horizon Organic. Sons Rick and Jim, who took over Silver Valley Farm in 1985, continue to also improve the genetics of their herd.
The family has plans to install a larger bulk tank in the near future. Plans are in place to build an equipment shed and another heifer barn soon.
Silver Valley Farm has always been one of the first to adopt new management strategies to improve production, pedigree depth and excellent forage quality. Plans have started to move Silver Valley Farm into the fourth generation of ownership, but Cathy and her husband, who recently marked their 59th wedding anniversary, continue to live in the farmhouse.
It seems that while some things change, some things never do.