Field Notes Blog > Faith, Family and Farming through Four Generations

  • Faith, Family and Farming through Four Generations

    October 03, 2018

    Steady Progress Positions Woodedge Farm, LLC for Success

     

    “Our farm illustrates God’s faithfulness through the generations,” said Gloria Kauffman. “There’s always been good relationships between the fathers and the sons,” she explained.

    Gloria’s husband, Rod, the third generation, and their sons, Dustin and Eric, the fourth generation, farm together at Woodedge Farm, LLC.

    The Kauffmans’ dairy farming legacy traces back to 1950, with Rod’s grandfather’s purchase of the home farm in Reedsville, Mifflin county. Rod’s father, Leroy, and grandfather entered a partnership in the late 1950s, and by the late 1960s, they were milking 37 registered Holsteins. Leroy eventually bought out his father and milked 50 cows.

    In 1986, Rod and Gloria began a partnership with Leroy, adding 12 more stalls in the barn. “We bought my dad out in 1998 and built a barn for the dry cows,” said Rod.

    Fast forward to 2006 and high school graduation for Rod and Gloria’s oldest son, Dustin. “I always knew I wanted to farm,” said Dustin. Before committing to a farming career, Rod suggested he first find off-farm employment.

    “I worked in carpentry for three years and came back to the farm full-time in 2009,” remembered Dustin. “And at that point, we built a 126-cow free stall barn.”

    “We remodeled our old tie stall barn to a step-up parlor,” said Rod. “We bought 50 more cows to fill the free stall barn.”

    In January 2010, Dustin traveled to Spain for a two-week mission trip. During the trip, he met an Ohio-based mission team and felt called to continue with mission work. There was one problem. “I was my dad’s employee and milking about 90% of the time,” said Dustin.

    Thankfully, Dustin’s younger brother, Eric was graduating from high school. He became a full-time employee during his brother’s nine-month training and assignment to Kenya.

    Dustin met his future wife, Mindi, during mission training. Mindi, a Kansas native, served in Nepal. After their engagement, Dustin moved to Kansas in September 2014 and worked on a dairy.

    Dustin and Mindi married and returned to Pennsylvania in early 2015. “We met with an AgChoice business consultant that spring to discuss forming an LLC with Dustin, and the transition process,” Rod recalled. The LLC started on January 1, 2016.

    Before their LLC formation, the Kauffmans refinanced to AgChoice from a local bank. “I always liked the way AgChoice held programs to help farmers,” said Rod. “We like that it’s farmer-owned and receiving the patronage checks every year.” The Kauffmans also use AgChoice for their tax services and participate in the Dairy SPR (Success Profitability Review) program. 

    Dustin’s return allowed Eric to follow in his brother’s footsteps and pursue off-farm employment. Eric helps at the farm when he’s available, specializing in machinery and field work. “Long-term, I hope Eric can come back and I can start to ease out,” Rod said.

    Growth for the Kauffman family continued in 2017 with the purchase of a neighboring farm. “We were always short on land and buying grain,” explained Rod. “We moved the dry cows to the other farm and now we can milk 140 cows. With the use of sexed semen and improved reproductive health, we were able to increase our numbers with internal herd growth.”

    More international travel is in the Kauffman family’s future. Rod and Gloria will visit their daughter, Ashlee, a missionary nurse, in Swaziland this October. “I keep teasing the boys that maybe we’ll just stay and not come back!” laughed Rod.

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