Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, October 22, 1994, Image 24

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    A24-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, October 22, 1994
(Continued from Pago A 1)
First the Abmas looked in Tioga
County, near Lawrenceville.
When that deal fell through, a real
tor called to say that the farm they
are now on was available.
“We prayed about coming
here,” said. Dorothy. “This farm
was supposed to have been sold,
but it wasn’t. When we came here,
it just fell into line that we could
get this farm, so that’s why it’s
called Providence Acres.”
The Abmas first got their taste
of the Endless Mountains when
they visited friends in the area.
“We love the Endless Moun
tains area and the people are so
friendly here,” said Henry.
Dorothy said, “And not only
that, the farms are here.”
“We’re right in the middle of the
dairy belt When we first came
here, I wanted to raise beef. I never
liked dairy when I was a kid, I
hated it We used to hand milk
everything. Of course today,
everything is modern. That
changed my attitude quite a bit.
But we knew we would have to
make a living here. We have a son
who is coming up the ranks and
we’d like to leave the farm to him
if he wants it,” said Henry.
After securing the farm, the
family needed to And cattle, so,
Dorothy said, Duane Mattocks put
them in touch with two area
“It was really comical. There
were two cattle dealers we had to
work with. It was Glen Shores and
Howard Visscher. Well, Howard
Visscher took one look at my hus
band and he said, ‘Henry Abma!’
They used to ride the school bus
together when they were kids to
Christian school. They knew each
other from then.”
dry. prepc.
of the family’s latest investments.
m #i
The heifer barn Is designed to accommodate round bales. Here, Shawn Abm
the hay in closer to the animals, while the family’s Boarder Collie, Shelly waits anxi
ously for her master’s command.
Acres Provides New Home For Abma Family
The Abmas decided to take the
herd of cows that Visscher was
able to put together. All their cows
came from one herd in New York
“The man had a herd of about
100 animals, and he was selling SO
of them. We took 45. They did
come out of a stall bam and we had
a stall bam that they would go
into,” said Dorothy.
Soon the herd of grade Holsteins
was at their new home in the End
less Mountains of Pennsylvania.
For Dorothy, who had never
milked a cow before, and for Hen
ry, who had only milked by hand
when he was a boy, many chal
lenges were ahead.
“When (Visscher) came, he
came with 45 cows and four bucket
milkers. And Duane was there and
we started milking, and you learn
real fast twice a day. I think what
helped us at first was we didn’t
have any young stock, we just had
the herd and then we built up from
that,” Dorothy said.
The Abmas stress that they
couldn’t have made the move
without the help of neighbors and
friends. One neighbor did all the
spring plowing so the Abmas
could plant the com the first year.
Even the former farm owner
helped the family get their second
“It’s no wonder we feel so good
here,” said Henry, “The people are
Just so good here. When we first
started, we had trouble calving,
Milford Kinsman, even with his
good clothes on would roll up his
sleeves and come and get that calf
out. I knew nothing about it. In fact
it was the night of a PFA meeting
we were going to. He went home
for his coveralls slid them over his
clothes and we got that calf out.
Some of the Abma family’s cows graze near the farm pond on their Dairy of
And we were half an hour late for
that meeting.”
“You can have a lot of problems
in dairy and be the best dairyman
in the world. You can have sick
ness or other things, but I think
even our veterinarian. Dean
Elliott, has been a big help. We
have herd day every month and he
has spent a lot of his time with us
over the years and given us such
good ideas and good advice. Even
now we still have him as our vet
and he’s a real good friend, too,”
Dorothy said.
Today the Abmas milk 45 cows
in a tiestall bam. Their DHIA herd
average rolls at 22,000 pounds of
milk, with a 3.6 percent fat test and
a 3.2 percent protein test.
“The years just progressed, and
the farm got bigger. We didn’t
really buy too many animals. We
raise all our young stock.” said
Currently the herd is about one
half registered and one half grade.
Their first registered animal
belonged to Shawn.
‘The first year we were here,
that August, they had the Blueber
ry Festival and it was at Wayne
LaMont’s farm and Shawn won
the registered calf. That was the
start of the registered herd,” said
They also bought a registered
cow from their neighbors, Milford
and Shirley Kinsman and four
head from Orton Mattocks.
After farming for six months,
the Abmas put slate in the mangers
to make clean-up easier. Seven
years later, they put in a pipeline.
Dorothy and Henry Abma look over their herd health
cards In their milking bam. Each time something happens
to the animals, whether It Is a flare up of mastitis, or the birth
of a calf, Dorothy is careful to record the Information on the
Index card. That way, she explained, all the information is
right at their fingertips if it is needed.
In recent years, they put up another
silo and last year they put up a
small storage and equipment shed.
This year they purchased an electr
ic feed cart to help feed the silage.
One early improvement the
Abmas made to the farm was the
erection of a heifer'^bam.
“We raise the calves all the
calves till three months old in
hutches. My husband built all
those (hutches). And after three
months they go up in the heifer
bam,” said Dorothy.
The heifer bam is divided into
sections so the calves can be
grouped by age. There’s a bedded
pack in the back, a scrape alley in
the middle and locking headgates
at the front The feed alley is wide
enough to unroll round bales of
“The heifer bam was designed
for round bales, Wejust roll one up
and roll it back at night, and it’s
gone,” said Henry.
“About two to three weeks
before (the heifers) freshen we
bring them into the main bam to
get them used to the routine,” said
The cows are fed a homegrown
diet of com silage and mixed hay
that are grown on the family’s 260
acres. An additional 2S acres of
ground is rented. In total, about SO
acres are planted in com and the
hay ground is seeded in a timothy,
alfalfa, and trefoil mix.
The Abmas are strong believers
in the use of tedders for their hay.
“It brings the hay in one day
sooner,” said Henry. “Usually we
use the tedder 12-24 hours after it’s
cut and, boy, does that work.
“We usually get two cuttings of
hay a year. It’s very rare that we get
three. There’s third cutting out
there right now, but you can’t get
in the Held to get it So it will be
there until next spring and, Lord
willing, we’ll have a good spring.
But our bam is full. I said to
Shawn, why wreck the field? It’s
so hard to get a good seeding there
and here we go out there trying to
get it in. The rains have been too
They also feed a grain mix from
Judson’s Agway and top dress
with Megalac and sodium.
“We don’t have any TMR and
we don’t feed any haylage,” said
The cows are on pasture at night
from May to October. The pastures
are divided into about five
Although the Abmas are not
afraid to try new ideas, they are
somewhat cautious about some.
“When we have a good herd
average, like we do, I don’t like to
try something that’s 100 different,”
said Henry.
“I still think,” said Dorothy,
“That if you want to stay in any
business and in dairy, you have to
be open for the new way. We don’t
use BST because I just feel you
really have to be on top of your
cows and you really have to know
your animals and it can’t be given
to all of them. It’s something that
we’re not ready for. If our son ever
(Turn to Pago A2S)