The Spring Valley Farm in Mt. Gilead, owned and operated by the Creswell family, celebrated 100 years in the dairy business with an open house and ox roast on Saturday August 9.
Approximately 250 people took the tour of the dairy farm from noon to 3 p.m. and about 200 people returned that evening for a celebration ox roast.
History of the farm
The farmhouse was built in 1914 by Will and Velma Creswell, Robert Creswell’s parents. When Robert was 10 years old his father died and Robert, along with his mother Velma, kept the farm going.
In 1945 Robert married Faith Goldsmith. They lived on the farm with his mother Velma and their five children, Bill, Sandy, Dee, Rhonda and Jean. William “Bus” Fisher also lived there as a farm hand.
In 1974 Bill married Ruth Walker. They moved into the house when their son Aaron was a sophomore and son Andy was in fifth grade.
In 2004 Andy married Sarah Pfleiderer. Andy and Sarah currently run the dairy and are now raising their children Ella, Dane and Janey in the 100-year-old farmhouse.
The dairy is impressively clean, cool and everything “is centered on cow comfort,” explained Bill Creswell. The barn features freestalls which allows the cows to come and go at will. The cows rest on water beds in the newer part of the facility and the original freestalls have mattresses filled with ground up tires and topped with sawdust.
There are five full-time employees and five part time employees that work hard to keep the dairy running smoothly.
Twice a day the alleys in the barn are scraped and the manure goes to a two million gallon lagoon where it waits to be spread on fields. 37 fans and a sprinkler system that is computer operated keep the cows cool and the flies away. The hotter the day, the more often the sprinkler runs.
A professional hoof trimmer visits every two to three weeks and a veterinarian makes bi-weekly herd checks.
A nutritionist balances forages and commodities every week to make sure the cows are eating their best. Brewer’s grain, a by product of the grain Anheuser-Busch uses to make beer, is trucked up from Columbus and mixed into the cows feed. Each day, the cows eat about 100 pounds of feed per day and drink about 40 gallons of water.
The Milking Parlor
The cows wear a computerized chip collar so that the computer knows which cow is being milked at each station. The computer system tracks each cow’s milk by the pound, how long the milker is on an udder and trends in the amount of milk a cow gives. Each cow gives approximately nine gallons of milk per day.
The milk is picked up every other day and currently they ship about 43,000 gallons of milk each shipment. Creswell stressed that the milk is tested multiple times to avoid problems.
“There is no concern about antibiotics here,” he said. “Every time they pick up milk, they take a sample. When he (the driver) gets to the dairy, he takes a sample of his whole truck because now he has milk from several dairies. When Smith Dairy gets there, they check it again and pump it into a silo, where it is tested again. So milk is one of the most tested foods there is. There are at least five checks from the time it leaves here and if they find anything the load is dumped and it can be isolated to an individual diary. If by chance we miss a problem and it is shown to be ours, we have to buy the whole truck load. So we are very careful. If we have to treat a cow (with antibiotics), she is isolated, given a red leg band and tested before we ever use the milk again.”
The Spring Valley farm is truly a family operation, with all members actively working, including Bill’s dad Robert, now in his late 80’s, who can frequently be seen hauling straw on a wagon through the farm. The cows are comfortable and content.
100 years as a commercial dairy is quite an accomplishment.
More photos available online.
Reach Donna Carver at 419-846-3010, ext. 1804 or on Twitter @MorrCoSentinel.