“What is farming if you can’t enjoy what you’re doing and have some fun along the way?” asked Megan Van Dorp, herd manager at Van Dorp Farms.
Located in Marion, NY, this third-generation dairy farm is home to a small herd of Holstein and Brown Swiss dairy cattle that produce milk for the Upstate Niagara Cooperative. This past autumn, one calf from the farm had an additional task at hand: serving in the wedding party of Megan and her new husband Jake.
Denali, the steer calf pictured in their wedding photos, stole the show from them when Megan and Jake were married in October 2022. Megan has always had a fondness for Brown Swiss cattle and made it a priority to include them on this special day.
Van Dorp Farms currently milks 76 cows, as well as raises all their replacement heifers. A third of their herd annually is bred to beef bulls to produce dairy-beef cross youngstock to raise and sell. The majority of the milk cows are Holsteins, but the herd also includes some crossbreeds to Brown Swiss. Not only does this increase the genetic pool of the farm, but it also feeds Megan’s love of the “cows with eye shadow,” as she referred to them at six years old.
Because of the small nature of the farm, Megan is able to take time to get to know each and every animal in her herd manager role. She knows their personalities and takes pride in getting to know them. As true animal lovers, the farm even includes a few “pets,” including a Belted Galloway, some British Whites and a “token” Jersey cow.
Jake is well-known around the community as a handyman. He can fix just about anything and is always willing to lend a helping hand. At Van Dorp Farms he is a valuable asset during the planting and harvesting seasons. He was happy to include Denali on their wedding day and is slowly catching Megan’s love for the breed.
“Long term, I want our farm to continue to be a profitable and enjoyable place for our family to do what it loves,” Megan said.
She reminisced about her grandparents immigrating from Holland and establishing the farm shortly after World War II. Her parents are the current owners of the farm, and she hopes that one day she and her brother will be able to pass it down to their children and watch them enjoy the land and take pride in the animals just as she does.
by Hannah Majewski