Lester Lancaster, after an incident with an Ayrshire bull, found himself in a hospital being nursed by Joan Weber. At the time, they both lived in Kansas and once recouperated Les didn’t want to let Joan go! Les and Joan married in 1942 and after a few moves, they settled in at Graysmarsh Farm in Sequim, Washington in 1948. Les managed the farm, which was a registered Guernsey dairy and a wildlife preserve owned by the Reed family. The Lancasters raised seven children on the farm, where they taught responsibility and work ethic. Graysmarsh Guernseys became a locally and nationally recognized herd for both type and production. Then, with the help of now-manager Arturo Flores, Les expanded the farm to a variety of berries and lavender. Today, Graysmarsh Farm is well known for their farm-grown products: http://www.olypen.com/grysmrsh/GMpict.html
Diane Lancaster (in middle, Jay is to her right)
Diane grew up in Ferndale, Washington where she helped on the family dairy farm and later became Whatcom County Dairy Princess. Diane’s parents Ervin and Elaine Hanson operated a Jersey farm known as Grandview Farm and some of the Family Hill genetics come from the Hanson’s cow family lines. Jay and Diane were married in 1968 and attended Washington State University together and then operated Graysmarsh Dairy after Les retired from dairying. Diane taught Kindergarten for two years before she had their two sons Aaron and Ryan. They moved to Diane’s hometown in 1978 to build Family Hill Farm together on property bordering her family farm. Diane had a deep love of family, hence the name “Family Hill” farm. Jay and Diane spent their years together on the farm, milking and caring for the cows along with their sons. Diane bred English Springer Spaniel dogs and was very active in her church. She was well known for always singing praises to the Lord. Jay and Diane celebrated 35 years of marriage before she passed away in 2004 from illness.
Chaney’s Dairy Barn
In May of 2009, Jay and Michelle made the decision to pack up and head East to a new life. They sold most of their cows, rented their home and farm, and set out. With two trucks with canopies, they hauled four Jersey calves, three Akitas, and two cats and Michelle’s dad Joe and her friend Angie helped drive cross country. What does this have to do with Jim Chaney? Well, on one of those 6 days, we had the opportunity to meet a new friend Damon Folmar at Chaney’s Dairy Barn for lunch and a calf swap. Together with Damon and his daughter, we all had the opportunity to meet Mr. Jim Chaney himself!
Jim Chaney, a most hospitable host, took the afternoon to show us his new building where the family made and sold meals and ice cream from their own cows. He proudly showed us upstairs where he had hanging pictures of some great cows, including two cows he owned (see photo above): Generator Topsy and Greenridge Chief Althea. http://greatcow.usjersey.com/greenridgefwchiefalthea.htm http://greatcow.usjersey.com/generatorstopsy.htm
You may have heard of Al-Top Farm, well that is Jim Chaney. He bred the bull Pitino out of Althea. Jim Chaney’s family began registering Jerseys in the 1940’s and in 2003, he was awarded Master Breeder. Mr. Chaney took us to see the family’s herd of cows. He pointed out some great older cows that we really liked. When we asked who they were, he told us they were out of a bull from Althea. He bred Althea to Centurion, but try as he might, he couldn’t convince AI reps to buy him. Because he believed so much in the bull, he collected hundreds of units of semen for this bull called Altheas Century. Before the day was out, we were able to purchase some units of Century and our first calf by him was born this spring.
As we were getting ready to leave, Mr. Chaney said, “I’ve milked over 60 years with hardly a day off. I’d be right back in there if I could.” The Jersey cow does have a power over people. Whether her big brown eyes or her smart personality, we may never know what really attaches our hearts so deeply to that cow. Whatever it is, we are glad to be a part of the Jersey cow and farming. And we are so glad to have had the opportunity to meet Mr. Chaney and visit with him in person about his Jersey cow experiences.