ENOSBURG FALLS, Vt.
At ‘This Place in History’ we’re in Enosburg Falls with Executive Director of the Vermont Historical Society Steve Perkins.
“We’re at the Gervais Family Farm. We’re going to be looking at the quintessential Franklin County dairy. We’re joined by Bob and Gisele Gervais and we’re going to talk about the history of the farm, which really interests me,” introduced Perkins.
“I’ve been dairy farming all my life. My dad’s farm was down at the end of the road, just before you come to the Boston Post Store down there. I was helping my dad with the fencing along the road. This person comes by and wants to hire me to run his farm. ‘No,’ I says. ‘The next farm I have is going to be mine; we’re not going to start something for somebody else’. He comes back a couple hours later and says, ‘You know, I’ll sell it to you.’ I says, ‘Sure, I got a nickel in my pocket.’ We ended up making a deal and so all I had to do was go tell my wife I bought a farm. We’re still married so I guess it didn’t go too bad,” joked Bob.
Bob and Gisele’s sons Clement, Paul and Larry grew up on the farm.
“Honestly it was quite a bit of work when we were younger. One of the first jobs you started out with was taking care of baby calves. Every morning before school you’d take care of them and when you got home after school, you’d go over and take care of them. I think it taught us a lot of important traits over the years for sure,” said Clement.
“It shows you the importance of being responsible and working hard,” agreed Paul.
“Paul took care of the baby calf replacements. I was in charge of the crops and the feeding of the cows. Clem’s in charge of the herd management. My oldest brother Charlie, who’s retired now, was in shop. And Mom and Dad were overall managers and kept us going and kept us in line there. You know we’re looking at the next generation with Kati coming in. It’s a struggle because dairy is a tough, tough business,” said Larry.
“Now we’re looking into the future. You’re the youngest member of the management team. What does this farm look like going forward?” asked Perkins of third generation farmer Katie Lawyer-Hale.
“Being one out of forty-something grandchildren and I’m the only one that’s currently on the farm that has any interest in staying on the farm, it’s kind of scary. The uncles, the grandparents, they’re eventually going to retire. They can’t keep going. And for me to step up, technology is going to have to help me,” answered Kati.
Technology is an increasingly important part of dairying in our region. The cows on the Gervais Family Farm wear fitness trackers, or pedometers, to aid in maintaining herd health. To view that story exclusively on our website, click here.
Visitors can tour the Gervais Family Farm and enjoy a tasty Vermont breakfast on Saturday, June 23rd.
“We’re going to host Vermont Breakfast on the Farm this year, which is very exciting. It’s like a huge field trip. And people get to come to the farm and see what a modern dairy farm is. So they’re going to be able to play with the calves, maybe even see a newborn calf being born. They’re going to see the cows being milked, manure management, our digester, our separator and a lot of other things including dairy goats. So it’s going to be really exciting. I can’t wait,” explained Kati.
To reserve free tickets, click here.
For more from our ‘This Place in History’ series, click here.
To view a map of Vermont’s roadside historic markers, click here.
Tracking dairy, at ‘This Place in History’!