Thieles' Dairy Spirit Deeper Than Roadside View

7/20/2013 7:00 AM

Carol Ann Gregg

Northwestern Pa. Correspondent

<.000>CABOT, Pa. — William and James Thiele are just beginning their careers as dairy producers as the sixth generation to farm land outside of Cabot in Butler County. The Thiele family established the farm with 64 acres in 1868. Edward and Lorraine and their sons farm the rolling hills in an area of Butler County that is a bedroom community for people who work in Pittsburgh.

“Four generations lived in the original farmhouse,” Edward said. “My father built this house.”

The Thieles are very proud to have the Dairy of Distinction sign now hanging with their farm sign along busy Route 356. The farmstead is back a 1,000-foot lane with crops between the highway and the farmstead.

In 1996, the Theile Dairy Farm became the first Butler County farm to participate in the Ag Land Preservation program. This insures that the land will remain in agriculture.

This family loves what they do for a living and believes it is important to share agriculture’s story with consumers. They have been hosts on the Butler County Annual Farm Tour two different years. Lorraine enjoys photography and has built a farm Facebook page, Thiele Dairy Farm, to share their life with consumers.

The family milks 35-40 Holsteins with a herd average of 25,000 to 26,000 pounds of milk. They have a total herd of about 80 cows. Cow comfort is important.

“In 2000, we made improvements in the barn,” Lorraine said. They installed mattresses and opened the walls for ventilation and installed curtains. The four immediate family members are the total work force on the farm so vacations have been nearly non-existent.

Lorraine doesn’t consider that such a bad thing. “When you live in the best place in the world, you don’t need to go on a vacation,” she said.

“But, now that the boys can do the chores, we can go out on a date once in a while,” she said.

The one concern they have is how they will continue to have the support system as more farmers go out of business. They travel 50 miles to the nearest machinery dealers. Veterinarians, nutritionists and others that provide service to their farm are coming from farther and farther away.

Edward enjoys the crops more than the cows but knows that the farm thrives on the milk that the cows produce. The farm has grown from the original 64 acres to 148 acres and they farm a total of 250 acres of crops on owned and rented land. They raise corn, alfalfa, soybeans and oats.

“In a few weeks, it will be the most beautiful time of year,” Edward said. “It is like God has painted a picture when the wheat is turning color between the strips of green corn.”

Edward serves on the Butler County Conservation Committee. Lorraine is a committee member for the Butler County Farm Service Agency. They both serve on committees in their church.

Editor’s note: Thiele Dairy Farm’s Facebook page is:

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