Beecher H. returned home from serving in World War II and started a dairy with 15 cows that he milked by hand. He married his high school sweetheart, Mary Lee, and together they had two children, Neal and Billy.
That dairy is alive and well some 70 years later. Today the farm is known as Ha-Ho Farms, and Neal and his wife, Louise manage the farm. They farm 800 acres and milk 60 cows. Neal took over farm management from his father and brother in 2004. Neal and Louise have two grown sons, David, who has autism and John, who has started taking a more active role on the farm.
Ha-Ho Farms have shipped quality milk to Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers since 1990. The family’s dedication to animal care and farming led them to win Maryland & Virginia’s prestigious annual Milk Quality Award.
The family takes pride in caring for their animals and growing good-quality feed to keep their cows healthy. They grow all of the forage crops for the herd and purchase a customized supplemental feed to balance out the cows’ diet. Their cows also have access to pasture throughout the year.
“The cows can stay in the barn during inclement weather if they choose to do so. They primarily use the barns for cooling during the afternoons in summer months,” Neal said.
Environmental conservation is important on Ha-Ho Farms. “My father introduced no-till farming to our community in 1968, and we have been essentially one hundred percent no-till since 1995,” Neal said.
Before Neal and his family purchased and started tending to the land, it had been “mined out” as a result of years of intensive and unbalanced farming. In 1997, the farm undertook experimental research plots in residue management that attracted interest from the academic community. During the university study, scientists demonstrated dramatic soil improvement as a result of Neal and Louise’s stewardship and farming practices.
Neal and his family’s love for dairy farming has helped them overcome many times of adversity, including devastating tornados and life-changing farm accidents. The family is proud to celebrate the many accomplishments they have earned in their 60 years in the dairy industry, including their closed herd and quality achievements.
“My thinking has always been to take care of the cows and let them take care of the rest,” Neal said.