April 28, 2020 at 2:37 p.m.
The morning after Lloyd Smith sold his milking herd, he was not sad or distraught. Instead, he was reminded of the tasks that still needed to be done on his family’s century farm.
“I still got up (that morning) knowing there is more than enough to do around here,” Lloyd said. “I was ready for it.”
Lloyd and his wife, Diane, sold their 50-cow herd March 25 on their dairy farm near Albany. The couple is continuing to raise youngstock and run 400 acres of tillable land.
Selling the dairy herd was a decision Lloyd had considered for the past couple of years.
“It was time to see the cows go,” Diane said. “Lloyd’s knees are starting to crack and we knew then that’s enough.”
“I’ve started to slow down, but I’d been holding on to make it 100 years of milking cows on this place,” he said. “It’s been a good farm. These hills have taken care of us for 100 years.”
The Smith family has farmed the land since 1919.
Lloyd’s grandparents moved to the area two years prior, settling on the farm site to raise 12 children. It was then the dairy farm was established.
“There was an old barn down here and that’s where they milked,” Lloyd said. “Grandpa had eight cows, and they were all milked by hand.”
In 1943, Lloyd’s parents, Alfred and Frances, purchased the farm and herd of cows. They continued milking in the original barn for 16 years before building the barn Lloyd established his dairying career in.
Lloyd was 5 years old when his parents improved their housing facilities.
“Even then, they still separated the milk and just sold the cream,” he said. “Then, they milked with buckets.”
As a young boy, Lloyd watched older brother Roger start dairy farming. Roger was 16 years old and began with 15 cows. Then, in 1972, after high school graduation, Lloyd joined the partnership.
“We started putting in more and more stalls,” Lloyd said. “Thirty years ago, we built on enough so there was room for 50 cows.”
When the addition was finished, the Smiths used a pipeline to collect the milk.
“There’s been 100 years (of milking here),” Lloyd said.
In the brother partnership, Lloyd was in charge of mostly milking the cows as his brother oversaw the farm’s hog operation and took care of the youngstock.
Lloyd also spent a majority of his dairying career working at the local sales barn. For 25 years, he hauled cattle to and from the livestock market and then help sort the animals.
“Everybody worked out,” Lloyd said. “Grandpa worked at the hardware store in town, and my dad was a carpenter by day and farmed at night.”
Not only was the off-the-farm job beneficial for the brothers’ partnership, it gave Lloyd and Diane financial stability.
The dairy farmer’s days would begin at 5:30 a.m. He would wake early enough to milk cows and do chores on the farm before spending the day at the sales barn. Then, he would return in time for evening chores and fieldwork.
“From the time you got up in the morning, you didn’t get a chance to stop until you went to bed at night,” Lloyd said. “You had to keep moving to get stuff done.”
Even amidst the busyness of dairy farming, it was also an opportunity for the Smiths to create lasting memories with their seven children.
“It was a great place to raise the kids,” Diane said. “I think they all enjoyed baling hay, and it was good to see everyone working together.”
“That was the nice thing about having a farm,” he said. “You couldn’t do everything because you never had the weekends off, but at least you were around. I used to take the kids in the tractor with me, and now my older boy is doing the same thing with his kids.”
Even still, the Smiths’ grown children return home and help combine corn or bale hay.
As Lloyd recollects his career, he is adamant his ability to continue the family farm was because of help from neighbors and the penny-wise mentality the Smith family had for three generations.
When Lloyd and Roger began farming, they had two tractors – a John Deere A and a John Deere B. As they grew their land base, the Smiths slowly expanded their machinery inventory.
“We just always had to do everything slowly,” Lloyd said. “We never really jumped into anything fast. And kind of like my old trucks and machinery, we picked out the better stuff and it lasted. It seemed to work for us that way.”
Six years ago, Lloyd and Roger dissolved their partnership because of Roger’s declining health. Roger continued to help on the farm, feeding calves daily, but running the farm by himself was wearing on Lloyd.
With the Smiths’ decision to stop milking cows, they have found more time to complete other farm chores and see their family, spending days with their 10 grandchildren.
And Lloyd is looking forward to getting back into his hobbies of draft horses and riding motorcycle.
“I’ll keep busy, just moving a little slower,” Lloyd said. “It was time, but I’m proud I stuck with it. The farm has taken care of us.”