Since 1946, Renee Sheaffer Koster’s farm has been a traditional dairy farm. Her grandfather started milking those cows after he came home from the war and her father continued to milk them after that. But in the ’90s, the decision was made to sell the milking herd.
At the time, Renee was in elementary school and didn’t play a big role in the family farm. But by the time she moved into middle and high school, she was ready to get back into farming.
“I always liked the dairy and I wanted to raise some calves, so I started buying bottle calves,” Renee said. “When I got into high school, I joined 4-H and started showing the dairy cattle. My dad kept growing corn and beans and we started milking a couple of cows and selling the raw milk.”
Today, Renee has more milk than she can sell, so she’s started to raise additional bucket calves to feed out and sell for meat she markets as locally grown, pasture raised and custom cut. Her customers continue to ask for additional products so Renee also has started raising eggs, pigs and sheep to sell, as well.
“We went from conventionally-raised milk that we were selling in the dairy market to having a much smaller her and getting into more specialty or niche markets where we could have smaller numbers but still make it work,” Renee said.
For Renee, turning a traditional farm into a not so traditional farm meant doing the things she loves most: taking care of livestock, being outside and making her own decisions. Plus, providing her customers with a product she loves and they love, too.
“We live on the farm and we eat what we’re raising,” Renee said. “We wouldn’t sell something to our customers that we wouldn’t eat ourselves. It’s one of the main things that people can relate to — just knowing that you care about the animals and you care about the product and you’re consuming what you’re producing.”
For the full Faces Behind Your Food Series, check out the links below:
- Intro: 30 Days
- Day 1: Managing…everything
- Day 2: Building Relationships
- Day 3: 50/50
- Day 4: Irons in the Fire
- Day 5: Loaded Up and Trucking
- Day 6: Variety is the Spice of Life
- Day 7: Beef. It’s what’s for dinner.
- Day 8: You have got to start somewhere.
- Day 9: The earth that calls me.
- Day 10: Teaching changes the way I look at things at home.
- Day 11: A Family Affair
- Day 12: Diversification.
- Day 13: Bigger is Better
- Day 14: Working for the Weekend
- Day 15: Three Generations of Pauling Brothers
- Day 16: “Quality and consistency is what makes us great.”
- Day 17: Community Supported Agriculture