Looking into the eyes of experience, dedication and commitment, a visit with Arthur Graulich of Sharon Springs, NY is an opportunity to learn about the fundamentals of successful farming and capture of glimpse of what can be accomplished when a farmer makes stepping up to the challenge an essential part of his long career.
Arthur’s eyes shimmered and he sat up even a little straighter in his chair as he described the family’s latest land purchase. “As our farm motto goes, leave it better than you found it. I love to purchase a farm and then take the steps to bring the land to its highest potential. Installing tile drainage and applying lime have been profitable management practices for us. I have had the privilege of buying seven different farms and working at it to make those improvements to the land. I really enjoy that part of farming.”
Words of wisdom
When asked to give words of wisdom for any inspiring farmer, Graulich summarized a few of the more important tenets of success that have been central throughout his career. “You have to like what you do. But liking it is not enough. You have to be dedicated to it.”
Listening to Graulich reflect on his experience, it was clear how important those two elements of his career have been. “We came here in 1948. I had gone to high school in Milford after my parents moved the family from Long Island. I had known at a very young age that I wanted to be a farmer. That was a part of why the family relocated upstate. After finishing high school, the Graulich family decided the farm in Milford would not support two families so they came to Northern Schoharie County,” stated Graulich.
“Back then we milked 20 cows but we have been growing ever since. The original farmland of Argus Acres totaled 200 acres. When I turned 18, I purchased the neighbor farm and continued to farm with my father,” stated Graulich. After getting married in 1953, Arthur and wife Ruth farmed with Arthur’s father. Arthur bought the farm in 1963 and his father retired.
Since then, Arthur with the support of his wife have strived to be the best farm operators they could be. When a new technology came along, they considered the merits and implemented the ones that aligned with their philosophies. “Since 1945 we have had registered Holsteins and have grown the herd to more than 400 cows and are 100 percent registered closed herd of cattle. We believe in the Dairy Herd Improvement testing and use these records to make the best management decisions we can. We work closely with nutritionists and other professionals to assess our herd performance.”
Stewards of the land
Graulich went further and explained some fundamentals that he has emphasized throughout his career. “Since some of the home farm is heavier ground, we use clover and manage within a realistic cropping window. When I expanded the farm, I always tried to purchase better soils elsewhere. Even before our dairy was expanded at our current complex, we used liquid manure and found that to be a great resource. We now include BMR corn in the production system as well as rye grain cover cropping.”
When asked for more words of wisdom that had served as mottos of Graulich’s and now advice for others, “keep your word, pay your bills and leave it better than you found it. That last one is the motto of our farm. It has taken time. Trying to always do a job the right way takes planning, knowledge, patience and persistency.”
Part of Arthur Graulich’s career has been influencing the greater agricultural community beyond the borders of his farm. Through civic activities, Graulich has contributed to his community. As a SUNY Cobleskill Foundation Board member, Graulich provided guidance to the College’s agricultural and other course areas. Additionally, Graulich has been influential as the Schoharie Dairy Cooperative president since 1985. At one time, the Schoharie Cooperative included membership of more than 450 producers. Though smaller than a tenth that size today, Graulich continues to stand up on behalf of the group to negotiate for competitive pricing for members.
The future is in good hands
Arthur and Ruth have farmed with their son David since 1980. Today David is a third owner and is instrumental in managing the herd as well as other operations of the farm. By 2004, the Graulich family had decided to expand their dairy to include a parlor and more freestall housing. So through careful planning and consideration for the future, the Graulich’s developed an entirely new complex a quarter mile east at the upper end of the original farmstead. “We started with the complex layout to include plenty of water above grade from site. Next we arranged the site so that we could take advantage of the slope for manure management as well. We installed a three million gallon lagoon below the grade of the barn and parlors. Further, with more than two acres of bunk and feed laneways above the lagoon, we are able to collect and properly handle all effluent from the complex.”
While managing the herd to more than 25,000 pounds milk and 4.0 percent fat herd average, David uses good husbandry to achieve a high pregnancy rate and modest culling. “I don’t believe in using lots of shots to get cows to breed. I watch them closely and place emphasis on genetic traits like daughter pregnancy rate. We have always bred for strong and powerful cows with substance and depth,” stated David.
Not about being high tech
“I just don’t believe that it is necessary to have all the bells and whistles to get performance,” was reiterated by both Arthur and David. “When we expanded to the new complex, we installed a used but refurbished double-12 parlor. But over time we installed additional features like fans in the barn, raised the parlor floor to accommodate the milking staff and solar supplement heated floors. We make improvements in areas to do a better job. But that being said, the farm as a whole does not use a computer to aid in our work,” stated David. It comes down ultimately to the work that is done by people whether with the assistance of a computer or not that makes the biggest impact on a farm.
With all the barns full, well packed and covered bunks of quality feed, Arthur and Ruth look to the future with optimism. Under the mindful care of David, there is a good future ahead for Argus Acres. The farm now includes 1,700 acres of land owned and another 500 rented. And with their complex designed to add additional barns to house another 800 cows, time will tell. “Our grandchildren might be interested and step up to roles on the farm someday too.”
After visiting a gentleman like Arthur Graulich and listening to his experiences during his farming career, one can’t help but be excited. There is a certain enthusiasm and excitement about all that can be accomplished, all that can be left a little better than you found it.