WOODBURY, Pa. — Ryan Carbaugh has not stopped smiling since he received the Dairy of Distinction award.
While many dairy farmers have little to smile about with today’s milk prices, Carbaugh and his wife, Mikayla, worked together to achieve the award. “We keep things painted and Mikayla plants a lot of flowers,” Ryan said.
The couple, married only two years, lives on Quarry Road, Woodbury, in a remodeled farmhouse. A creek meanders through the property and the white barn stands near the road, creating a picturesque scene.
Carbaugh enjoys farming but says his mother made him go to school to get an associate degree in business administration with emphasis in agriculture. “She said someday I might want to get a real job,” he said.
Today, he’s following his passion. “I love working with cows,” he said. He also enjoys going to farm meetings and the camaraderie with other farmers. “I listen to the ideas but don’t always follow them,” he said. For instance, he finds that no-till farming works best for them while some prefer vertical tillage.
They raise corn, hay and oats on their 120 acres plus an additional 30 or so that are rented.
Mikayla has a degree from Penn State in ag science and is a new employee at the USDA Farm Service Agency office in Bedford.
Both came from a farm background. Ryan purchased the cows from his dad who now says he sold at just the right time. “Milk was $25 then and now it is $15,” Ryan said. “But it has gone up a few pennies and we have hopes it will continue to do so.” Milk from the Carbaugh farm is shipped to Land ‘O Lakes.
The couple has 41 dairy cows a mix of Brown Swiss, Holsteins and a few Jerseys, Ryan said. “My wife brought a prize Jersey with her from the Gates farm where she grew up.”
As a young couple, making ends meet on a dairy farm isn’t easy. “You have to watch that bottom line,” Mikayla said. “We only buy what we have to. We used to purchase everything in bulk, but this year, we bought exactly what we needed.”
Ryan helps his dad drive school buses. He figures that one day he will inherit this business. “I would like to see the day come when farmers didn’t have to do something on the side,” he said.
This young couple marks the fourth generation to be on this farm. It was started by his great-grandfather in the days when farmers had cows, pigs and chickens. One generation did not have dairy cows. It was originally owned by New Enterprise Stone and Lime and rented by the Carbaugh family.
Both Ryan and Mikayla enjoy keeping up the appearance of the farm. They do painting together and were a little dismayed they weren’t able to get everything spruced up this spring due to the wet weather. Mikayla mows the grass and plants the flowers.
After purchasing the cows, Ryan’s dad gave him a choice to where the newlyweds might live. They chose the old farmhouse which has been modernized with hardwood floors, new cabinets and other updates.
Ryan says the milk inspector asked him recently about his goal for farming. “I just want to outlast the big guys,” he says. “I think the small farm has a healthier herd. I know all of my cows by name and I take good care of them. That’s important.”