Our Farm - Our Family - Our History
How many cows do you milk?
We milk approximately 650 cows.
What breed of cows do you milk?
We milk both Jerseys and Holsteins.
How many times per day do you milk?
We milk 3x per day.
How many acres do you farm?
We farm approximately 550 acres, growing corn and grass to feed our cows.
How many employees do you have?
Not counting our own family, the dairy employs 10 full-time people, including milkers, feeders and calf raisers.
Where are you located?
We are located in the very Northwest corner of WA state, near the town of Ferndale.
Do you give tours?
We do! Eventually, we hope to have designated days for tours. Until then, if you would like a tour, please feel free to contact Rich at AppelDairy@gmail.com.
Immigrants from Holland, Jack and Audrey met here in the United States. After renting a farm in Kent, WA, they took advantage of an opportunity presented to them to purchase a dairy farm located in Ferndale, WA. Within a couple of weeks, they, along with their 5 children, moved into the old farmhouse. It may have been old but it was instantly loved. Such a blessing to have a large house for their 5 children! Now that same farmhouse, with a few updates, is home to Jack & Audrey's grandson and even a great-granddaughter!
Although we lost Dad in 1999, Mom is still healthy and lives close by. If you know her, you know she stays busy, giving of herself to others, serving her Lord. Both the farm and cheese business, also started by Jack and Audrey, are now owned and operated, respectively, by their sons, John & Rich and their wives, Ruth and Ann. John has taken over management of the cheese business, Appel Farms, and is the head cheese-maker. Rich manages and works the dairy.
While all of our children have taken their turn working either on the farm or in the cheese business, both our families are blessed by having at least one child still actively involved in the family business. Daughter of John & Ruth, Marlies, is following in their footsteps and working the cheese business. Our daughter, Katherine, is our main calf raiser and our son, Chris, is a key part of the dairy, specializing in field work and maintaining our equipment.
We've been blessed not only with these family businesses but even more importantly, we've been blessed with a Godly heritage. Our desire is to be able to pass not only the business baton to the next generation but also the baton of faith to our children and their children and to future generations.
The Next Generation
We have many reasons to take proper care of our natural resources here on the farm. One, it's just the right thing to do. We firmly believe that God has given us this land to take care of. Two, if we take care of the land, water and our cows, they will take care of us. It just makes sense to care for our resources as our resources are what provide us with a way of living. Another big reason is for the next generation! We want to be able to pass our farm, our land, to our children, to their children and to generations to come!
In the last couple of years, we have had the privilege of seeing some of our children start buying into both businesses, the dairy and the cheese. What a joy it is to see our children take an interest in the family business! It's definitely not for everyone and we will never push any of our children to purchase but if they decide to, we will welcome them with open arms!
I thought it would be neat to get a couple different perspectives about buying into the family business so I asked my daughter-in-law and my niece to describe a little bit of what it means to them to now "officially" be a part of the family businesses.
Our niece, Marlies - read her story of growing up, working in the cheese room, making and packaging cheese, and what it means for her to be a part of the family business:
Jack Appel's Story
Born 1927, in the Netherlands, Jack knew by the age of 17 that he wanted to be a farmer. In his words,
"I went around, found a farmer who was willing to hire me, not knowing anything about cows, etc. I had room and board there too, and was paid two dollars and fifty cents a week. He hired me for a year. I was happy but after six months I began to realize that with that kind of wage I could not save very much. I went home one evening and told my Dad I didn't believe I wanted to stay there. Well, he said, you were hired for a year and you're going to stay for a year, and then we will see. So I stayed and it was not very long after that that I made up my mind that I was going to be a farmer someday, the Lord willing, although I did not know how. That was my goal. It would be many years before I realized my dream."
After that first year, Jack was hired by a farmer in France. There, he milked 17 cows, cared for the young stock, made cheese 6 days a week, and on Mondays made butter. Little did he know how valuable those skills would become not only for him but for his family and future generations.
After spending some time in the army and continuing to learn farming, the idea of immigration came up. When an uncle in North Carolina offered sponsorship, Jack realized this was his opportunity to advance his dream of becoming a farmer. Finally after arriving in the US, his uncle not only provided a job for him but helped him build a little barn. In Jack's words,
"When the barn was finished, we went to a farmer. I bought 10 cows, $440 apiece, which was a big price. I went to the bank and borrowed the money. Here I was - a dairy farmer! I milked by hand but later bought a used vacuum pump, some vacuum line, and I milked by machine. It was a good thing, too, for that fall I cut a piece of finger. Milking by hand would have been impossible. I continued to work part-time for my uncles, $1 per hour."
Jack & Audrey Appel,