Day in the Life
Brian and Nicole | Linden Hall Farm — Hagerstown, Maryland
Beautiful trees, a historic site, and a charming farm store grace the grounds of Linden Hall Farm and Orchard. Meet Brian and Nicole, two dairy farmers at one of Maryland’s local Maola family farms. The farm has been in Brian’s family for more than 150 years, and a rich history and legacy continue with Brian and Nicole as the owners and operators of Linden Hall.
Growing up in agriculture, Brian and Nicole both knew they wanted to be dairy farmers. “I’m fifth generation on my mom’s side,” says Nicole. “I started in a playpen in the milking barn and ended up taking care of the calves as soon as I was big enough to carry a bucket.” Not just working on, but owning their own farm, is a dream realized for the couple that came true this year.
A typical day for Linden Hall starts with milking at 4 am. Ethel, one of the beloved farm chickens, clucks away as the family starts their day. Brian, along with his parents, milks cows until 7 am and once again in the afternoon, while Nicole fills in during milking when Brian and his father Mike handle other duties, including corn chopping, making hay for the cows, and gathering cow feed. Brian enjoys getting to do “a little of everything” on the farm, while Nicole is passionate about dairy education and connection with consumers, and so often organizes farm tours open to the public. “It’s really important for consumers to see where their food comes from and to trust their local farmers,” Nicole says.
In addition to dairy farming, Linden Hall operates a farm store that can be found on-site. From fresh produce to seasonal goods, the store aims to bring local, fresh items to the community. Nicole is passionate about the store’s operation and building consumer confidence through tours, where she gets a hands-on opportunity to teach consumers about food sourcing. The types of visitors range from field trips from local schools to regular customers, giving Nicole the opportunity to share the importance of farming. Similarly, Brian and Nicole work hard to be sustainable, and use methods such as cover crops and rainwater irrigation to improve soil health and make the most of the farm’s natural resources.
Working with cows is another major passion for both Brian and Nicole. Their focus on happy, healthy cows goes hand in hand with their emphasis on quality milk. “We drink it too, so we want it to be high quality, good tasting stuff,” Brian and Nicole share the same sentiment. “This is our livelihood. We sell a product that we ourselves consume. This is what makes us get up in the morning, this is what we live off of – of course, we’re going to give it our all.” The playful personalities of mother-daughter duo Sweet Pea and Sugar Plum, both Jersey cows, are also a fun highlight to the workday. The majority of the 50-cow herd at Linden Hall Farm is mostly Jerseys, accounting for two-thirds of their cattle, as well as some Holsteins and a single brown Swiss.
The land also holds an interesting history of its own. The grounds were formerly used in the Civil War, and the main home on the property has been standing since 1790. The family can trace back various members who owned the land dating back to the 1800s. A generational love of agriculture, food sourcing, and dairy education inspires Brian and Nicole to enrich their community through agriculture for generations to come.