Brian and Nicole now operate Linden Hall Farm in Maryland after taking over the Maola family farm from Brian’s parents recently.
Although Brian had a range of different jobs after finishing college, every spare second was spent milking cows.
“Every job has helped me become a better dairyman and to help improve things around the farm,” he says.
The farm has been in the family since the late 1800s, with a rich history that saw the farmhouse being used not only during the Civil War and as a schoolhouse, but even as a Prohibition speakeasy on the weekends during the Depression.
“It’s a lot of upkeep, but it’s amazing to be able to give tours and teach people about where their food comes from in a place with such a rich, interesting history,” Nicole says.
Brian and Nicole, along with Brian’s parents Christine and Mike, look after a 50-cow herd made up of mostly Jerseys, some Holsteins, and a single brown Swiss cow. With such a small herd, the family of farmers has the ability to focus on individual calves and even feed them individually, giving them the personal care they need. Every day, the cows go out and roam free on the pasture, grazing on grass and stretching their legs out.
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 says.
Nicole shares 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.”
Every year the family of farmers sells produce directly from their farm, with more than 1,200 tomato plants, a variety of fruits and vegetables, six acres of orchards, 166 acres of crops, and farm-fresh chicken eggs. With so much acreage for crops, the family is aware of their impact on the earth and has been no-till farming for a very long time.
In addition, Brian also catches rainwater for irrigation to spray the orchard. During peak season, the orchard might need more than 500 gallons of water to spray at least once a week, and so catching rainwater allows the family to reduce their water usage in their local community by conserving rainwater and making their farm more sustainable.