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Trio of Brothers Rally to Carry on Dairy Farm Tradition
May 17, 2013

Barb and Ernie Hanselman never believed in forcing any of their seven children into following their footsteps as dairy farmers.

Their four daughters opted to pursue careers off of the farm. But for their three sons, there never was any doubt they one day would represent their farm’s next generation. The trio – all in their 20s – is officially emerging into their role as brotherly business partners of Del-Rose Farm in Bloomville, N.Y.

Barb and Ernie couldn’t be happier to see Seth, 29, Kale, 23, and Ladd, 21, committed to continuing the family’s multi-generational farm.

“I cry so easily,” Barb said. “The boys will tell you that I’m an emotional wreck. When they made their choice, I can’t put into words how wonderful that was for me.

“I’m very proud to be the mom of three farmers. But I have four other children who are farm kids and they will carry the story of production agriculture in whatever walks of life they choose.”

The boys, who once slept in cribs in the barn while their parents worked, see it as a natural progression.

“I guess it’s something we took for granted more than we talked about,” Seth said. “I think we all knew the farm would continue on and we would take it over. That’s the way a family farm works.”

Adds Kale: “I couldn’t imagine our farm being sold or turned into houses. That’s a hard thing for me to think about.”

Seth, Kale and Ladd exhibit some of the expected brotherly tendencies. They tease each other and mix in some levity to their long work days. They each admittedly have strong opinions on how things should run but they choose to talk through differences and ultimately do what’s in the best interests of the farm.

In other words, don’t expect any slugfests in the barn.

“In the grand scheme of things, we probably get along better than 95 percent of brothers,” Seth said. “A lot of it is because we don’t hold grudges. We each give a little to make things work.”

Barb and Ernie insisted that their sons attend college before they came back to the farm. Each earned an associate’s degree that plays to their individual strengths at the dairy.

Seth (agronomy) is the expert at growing crops that feed the cows. Kale (dairy production and management) has a special touch with the cows and assures their daily health, nutrition and comfort needs. And Ladd (power mechanics) keeps the farm’s many pieces of machinery and equipment running smoothly, as well as overseeing the herd’s young stock.

Each one knows they can count on the others to do what needs to be done.

“We all do a good job of picking each other up,” Ladd said. “Nothing is perfect during any work day, but we are always there to support and help each other.”

The brothers’ decision to work the farm brings an added sense of relief to their parents. Ernie suffers from diabetes and is a bilateral amputee. Seth, Kale and Ladd draw added inspiration from watching their hard-working father bravely battle his health issues. Their mom, they say, is another role model whose example they follow daily.

“Our parents are the best inspiration we have and we try to honor them,” Ladd said. “I hope they’re proud. They definitely know we don’t want to let them down. We’ll do whatever it takes to succeed.”

Barb has plenty of confidence her sons will do just that and maybe one day pass the farm along to the generation that follows them.

“They are so committed. When work has to get done, it’s going to be done the right way,” she said. “They are very dedicated which is how Ernie and I survived here.

“You sometimes hear people say this generation is soft compared to our generation. I can’t say that about my guys. They put 250 percent in every day.”

Source: www.dairygood.org



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