Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, June 06, 1998, Image 20
A2O-Lancaster Farming, Saturday, June 6, 1998 GAIL STROCK Mifflin Co. Correspondent BELLEVILLE (Mifflin Co.) “This is how our farm looked 30 years ago,” Johnny B. Peachey says while holding an aerial photograph of Peach-Vale Farm, located, between Reedsville and Belleville in Mifflin County. Compared to the Dairy of Distinc tion it is today, the farm in the photograph is missing a second house and a lot of white paint. “I wonder what it’ll look like in an other 30 years.” Johnny B. might not be able to predict how Peach-Vale will look structurally 20 years from now, but he can be sure of one thing. The conservative approach to business that has served him so well in the past will do the same for his son Robert. Robert started working with his father in 1986 and shares many of his father’s views on managing a farm. “We’re slow to jump on any miracle products,” Johnny B. ex plains. “Feed by-products, pre servatives, BST it all costs money and cuts into profits. Our cows are already milking good. We don’t want them under more stress.” The Peacheys own 14S tillable acres (plus rent an additional 25 acres) and milk 90 registered Hol steins in a 76-tie stall bam for a 23,319-pound herd average. The farm has come a long way since Johnny 8., grandfather (also John ny B.) rented it in the early 1900 s. He rented it for 30 years. His fa ther, John E. Peachey, was bom there and rented it from 1932 until he purchased it in 1954. Johnny B. joined the farming operation in 1968, named it Peach-Vale, and started register ing the herd. At that dme, the bam housed 40 tie stalls. In 1973, 24 more stalls were added. In 1988, Johnny B. added 12 more stalls and built a manure pit Robert now farms in partner ship with his father but began as a wage earner after spending one year on the western wheat harvest. He has purchased cows over the Johnny B. Peachey holds a framed notice of his grandfa ther’s public sale dated 1932. Fourth Generation To Farm Peach-Vale past nine years, examining pedi grees and studying cow families. Last year, he purchased half the herd. Robert lives in the main farmhouse with his wife Lisa and children Chelsie, 8, Zachary. 6, and Taylor, 2. While Johnny B foresaw the marketing advantages of regis tered cows, Robert is the one who is in charge of the herd’s breeding program. “My goal is for a good type herd. It’s better now than it was five years ago. We have more old er cows in the herd, and we’re not culling as many cows as we used to. The udders are holding up bet ter because we’re using more type bulls,” Robert explains. Robert is building the herd around five main bull families. He’s seeing a more uniform line of cows with good udders, feet, and legs. Neither Johnny B. nor Rob ert have any desire to expand the herd, but Robert says he wouldn’t mind merchandising a couple of cows each year and sees some ex tra profit in selling fresh or bred heifers. “I’d like to flush a couple of deep-pedigreed cows and get a couple of Excellent cows in the bams,” Robert reflects. Robert manages Peach-Vale’s feeding program too. Because of the tie stalls, the Peachey’s can feed each cow individually. The cows in the 70-pound group get one-half com silage and one-half haylage, two to three pounds of baled hay the first thing in the morning, 18 pounds of high mois ture com, and seven pounds of 36 percent protein. Anything above 80 pounds gets 20 percent top dress. The Peacheyks used to feed one-third com silage and two thirds haylage, but have changed their ration for a number of rea sons better herd health, less hay acres, and the availability of more com silage and high moisture com storage over haylage storage. While Robert oversees the feed ing and breeding programs, John ny B. manages the crops 95 acres of com and 70 aeries of an alfalfa and orchard grass mix. Taylor, Zach, and Chelsie Peachey (on the four-wheeler) are the fifth generation at Peach-Vale Farm near Belleville. Johnny B. (left) and son Robert are in partnership. Robert’s wife, Lisa, helps feed calves and keeps the farm records. The family dog managed to get In the picture too. Managing 90 registered Holstelns In a 76-tie stall barn enables Johnny B. and Rob ert to feed and care for the animals Individually. Johnny B. and Robert are Joined by Zach, Chelsle, and Taylor. Johnny B. believes good forages are the key to profit. Lisa feeds the calves each morning, keeps the books, and milks occasionally, and except for Johnny B.’s niece, they hire no ex tra help. While no major changes are planned for the operation, Robert would like to install a sta tionary mixer, a bunk feeder, and tunnel ventilation in the bam to re duce the noise. “We’re both picky,” says Rob ert. “We work well together. If you hire someone, you get into Social Security and workman’s comp. And you need someone who already knows how to milk. Sometimes it’s easier to do it yourself. Maybe we’ll get some part-time help this summer.” As it is, each gets one Sunday evening off a month. But Johnny B. still sees the everyday advant age to farming and running your own business. “There is less physical work than years ago. But there is just as much stress if not more. You’re dealing with a bigger operation 9nd you have to stay on top of things. You have to have good nerves. I like managing my own business rather than managing help. This way, I always have a job; I’m never laid off; I’m my Peach-Vale Farm, a Dairy of Distinction, Is located In the heart of Big Valley, mid way between Reedsvllle and Belleville, Mifflin County. own boss; and I’m not working the hours someone else is telling me I have to work. Whatever work we do, we reap the benefits. GAIL STROCK Mifflin Co. Correspondent Gail Strode, a Lancaster Farm ing correspondent for die past B'A years, enjoys highlighting the peo ple and events in Mifflin, Hunt ingdon, Centre and Juniata coun ties. She writes advertising for the "County Observer" and writes features and brochures for the Big Valley Area Business Associa tion. She just completed a 400-level Copyediting course at Penn State. Gail graduated from Penn State with a degree in Agricultural Eco nomics and Rural Sociology. Gail, 'her husand, Dennis, and children Evan, 14, and Aaron, 10, live on their 27-acre farm near Belleville.