The next farm on the list for 30 Dairies in 30 Days is the Phares Dairy Farm in Albion.
Steve Phares began dairy farming in 1973 after purchasing the farm from his grandfather. In 1997, Steve’s son, Clint, joined the operation. The father-son double act now milk 110 Holstein cows, about three-quarters of the herd are registered Holsteins.
Steve and Clint use rotational grazing in the warmer months, a system of moving cows around on grass pastures so their grazing doesn’t damage the grass. Cows get supplemental haylage (which is hay that has been chopped up and fermented) and grain during the summer months. In the cold winters of northern Indiana, the cows stay cozy in a free stall barn, where they can lay down, move around, eat, drink and socialize as they choose. In the winter, cows are feed a “total mixed ration” or TMR, which is like cow version of trail mix, with lots of different grasses, grains, and minerals mixed together.
Steve’s grandfather bought the Phares Farm in 1927, making Clint a fourth generation dairy farmer. Steve “share milked” (which means sharing in the farm’s profits and losses, basically as a stakeholder) for three years before buying the farm.
The whole family is active in their church leadership and Clint’s wife Sara is involved in the music. Steve is a director in the Foremost Farms dairy cooperative. Clint serves on the county extension board. Steve and his wife Paula enjoy travelling. Clint and Sara do triathlons.
The Phares family’s farm motto is, “It is not work if you enjoy what you do, but a little play is good for you, too.”
Every cow on the farm feels this fun-loving attitude in the family’s passion for dairy farming.