Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Generations of Dairy Farmers

Lad and my families have a long history in the U.S. dairy industry. My family is from California and Lad’s from Ohio but their stories are similar.

Harold "Chief" Hastings (Lad's grandfather) with his first cow in the 1930's

Curby Goldsmith (Brenda's grandfather) with his Brown Swiss heifers in the 1970's
Tony Souza Sr. (Brenda's grandfather) in the 1990's
Lad and my grandparents were dairy farmers. They started with a few cows and grew their herds to about 100 cows. This was a common herd size in mid-1900 because one family could manage it without having to hire employees. In addition to milking cows and growing crops, the families raised hogs, sheep and chickens on the farm. These animals provided meat to feed the family and to sell for extra income. This farm lifestyle was shared by many during this time period – our grandparents and parents had many friends and neighbors who lived on similar farms.

Duane Hastings (Lad's father) pouring milk into 10 gallon cans in the 1950's
Through the 1950’s, fresh milk was stored in 10 gallon cans and cooled in an ice water bath. A truck would pick up the cans daily and transport them to the creamery where the milk would be processed and packaged into drinking milk, cheese, butter or ice cream. Around 1960, dairy farms were required to install a “bulk tank” to cool and store their milk. This was a large investment for small farms but greatly enhanced milk quality.

Duane Hastings helping with chores in the early 1940's at the age of 4
Because small family farms had no hired labor, farm kids were expected to help with the daily chores. Our parents were responsible for helping with chores before they were 10-years-old.

A favorite activity was showing animals at the fair.

Duane Hastings with Comet, Jr Champion at the 1954 Wayne County Fair 
Carolyn "Goldsmith" Souza (Brenda's mother) with Judy at her County Fair in 1957
Tony Souza (Brenda's father) preparing to show his sheep project
Carolyn Goldsmith Souza - District Dairy Princess in 1961
Tony Souza with his brother, Louie, working at the Cal Poly College dairy in the early 1960's
Duane Hastings on his MTA Super
 Much has changed in the U.S. dairy industry over the last 100 years. Cattle numbers have changed dramatically from 25.6 million in 1944 to about 9 million cows today. Milk production per cow has increased nearly six-fold. The number of dairy farms continues to decline, there are approximately 55,000 dairy farms left in the U.S. which is about half the number of dairy farms that were operating just 10 years ago.

The number of cows per farm has increased and we’ve seen a decline in the consumption of whole milk but   an increase in the amount of cheese consumed. Technology and modern management has allowed farmers to be extremely efficient. In 1940, one farmer fed 19 people. Today, one farmer feeds 155 people.

Tony Souza with his son, Tim, in 1969
One thing that hasn’t changed is our family’s love of cows, commitment to the dairy industry and the value we find in raising a family on the farm.


  1. I enjoyed reading about the history of your families, thanks for sharing! Now, I just want to know where Duane was on the Wayne County Fairgrounds that there was grass - it's all asphalt now!

  2. Great story Brenda. I like your choice of family pictures. We sure have memories of those days!

  3. Love the old pictures Brenda. What fun.


Thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment! I’m opening the doors of our farm to share with you and enjoy engaging in discussion. Please be respectful in your comments. I reserve the right to remove posts that include name calling, slander, and vulgar language or contain links to websites that assault animal agriculture.

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