Hard Work Reaps Distinctive Honor

7/20/2013 7:00 AM

Teresa McMinn

Southeastern, Pa. Correspondent

<.000>DOUGLASSVILLE, Pa. — The foundation for an award-winning farm started decades ago with a lot of creativity and hard work. Today Earl Hafer & Sons includes five generations of the Hafer family.

The Amity Township, Berks County. farm recently received the Dairy of Distinction award. The honor is issued to farms that maintain a neat facility while producing high quality milk.

Officials for the award visited and inspected the farm several weeks ago, family member Terry Hafer said.

“We didn’t even know they were here,” he said.

Terry Hafer, 52, said credit for the award begins with his parents, Earl Hafer and his wife Joan, who purchased the farm in the 1960s from Earl Hafer’s uncle.

Sadly, Joan Hafer died several months ago after a battle with cancer, Terry Hafer said. The couple had been married for 54 years, have four children, 10 grandkids and one great-granddaughter.

“They worked very hard,” Terry Hafer said of his parents leading the way for the family to operate a successful farm. “If they hadn’t done what they did, we wouldn’t be like this today. ... We’re the last dairy farm in the township.”

Earl Hafer bought some of the family’s outbuildings — including two of four silos — when they were intact and located on other farms that were going out of business. The Hafer family disassembled and rebuilt the structures on their farm.

“The farm grew building by building,” Terry Hafer said. “Nothing was easy.”

The family also renovated and expanded an existing barn on the property, he said.

Today, the Hafers own about 150 acres and rent another 400 acres where they raise corn, alfalfa and soybeans. The Hafers have practiced no-till farming for 30 years.

“It’s such a time saver,” Terry Hafer said.

The family also milks roughly 200 cows and sells their milk to Clover Farms Dairy.

“We scrape our barn five times a day,” Terry Hafer said. “The less litter (the cows) have in the aisle, the less they track into the stall.”

Other members of the family include Terry Hafer’s wife Jeanne — a registered nurse; their daughter Casey Hafer, 21 — a student at Penn State’s Berks Campus; son Cory Hafer, 24, his wife Katie and their 20-month-old daughter Jenny.

“Everybody has a turn at it,” Terry Hafer said of the family pulling together to keep the farm running smoothly.

Katie Hafer grooms the cows before they give birth, he said.

“The cows are very clean,” he said. “That is a thankless job.”

It takes a special person to primp the animals, he said.

“But I just like clean cows,” Terry Hafer said. “That makes for clean milk.”

Terry Hafer said his brother, Tom, also worked in construction and implemented ideas he learned in that industry on the family farm. Tom’s wife Kathy, their sons Tyler, 19, Jake, 17, and daughter Taylor, 15, also help on the farm. Additionally, Tyler Hafer attends Alvernia University in Berks County.

Tom said some of the larger improvements on the farm include extensive barn ventilation and liquid manure systems.

The Hafer brothers also have sisters, Tammy Russell of Easton, Pa., and Tina Hackett who lives near the family farm. As kids, all of the siblings completed chores on the farm.

Additionally, several workers and a neighbor — the late Reginald “Dewey” Scheifley — helped on the Hafer farm.

“We have a lot of good helpers,” Terry Hafer said adding the farm hosts tours in the spring. “They’re faithful friends. They’re like part of the family.”

The idea to aim for a Dairy of Distinction award came from Earl Hafer, who is 79 years old and continues to be an active worker on the farm, Terry Hafer said.

While driving a golf cart, Earl Hafer scanned his family’s farm and compared his view of the property today to years ago when he and his wife started the business.

“We had a rough time, but we made it,” he said. “My wife would have been real happy.”

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