Amish family works together to produce goods as next year's profit for eggs and milk is expected to decrease
Since she was a little girl, growing up during World War II, a Haven native has cared for chickens and collected their eggs.
Now, after Anna Borntrager has retired from selling fabric at her Country Variety Store on Red Rock Road, she is still caring for her 180 hens and collecting their eggs and selling them from her home.
Anna lives on the family homestead, where she and her nine siblings grew up. She was the fifth in line. Her youngest brother, Harry, lives next door with his wife Barbara and their six children.
Harry runs a cattle operation and has 50 dairy cows. He also farms milo, corn and alfalfa - dependent on the rotation. Harry and his family are always trying new ways of farming. This year, his daughter Susanna is leading the charge.
Susanna,14, decided to raise ducks, and like her aunt, she hopes to sell their eggs.
"In a few months we'll see duck eggs," Susanna said. "Probably not until early March."
A close knit family
Anna and Susanna use the grains that Harry raises and grinds on his farm to feed the chickens and ducks. Harry also uses the same milo, corn and alfalfa to feed his cattle and dairy herd.
Harry sells most of the milk from his 50 Holsteins to the co-op, but he saves some raw milk for his family and those customers who buy from him. Growing up, Harry and Anna remember milking a cow or two with their eight siblings before they headed off to school each morning.
"That was when we milked by hand," Harry said.
A look ahead at the dairy market
Like other small dairy farmers in Kansas, the Borntrager's small dairy part of his operatis barely making ends meet.
"It pays the feed bills, but it's kind of hard to figure your own labor in," Harry said. "But if you quit, you won't ever get back in it. I couldn't imagine buying milk from the store."
According to the USDA, milk production forecasts for 2020 and 2021 have increased. This is because of a higher than expected number of dairy cows. The all-milk price forecast for 2021, according to the USDA, was lowered by $1.10 to $16.60 per hundred weight. The 2021 egg price forecast has decreased as well.
Trying out new ways to utilize the milk, Susanna is learning to process cheese.
"It's amazing how much milk it takes to make a little bit of cheese," Barbara said.
Harry recycles the cows' manure and practices rotation on his crops. These two Amish families own several horses to use with their buggies that they drive to church on Sundays. Anna gave up using her own buggy and rides with Harry and Barbara.
Both families enjoy taking care of their animals and helping others by selling eggs and milk to the community.
"For years, we as farmers have been sold on efficiency," Harry said. "In the last few years there's more of a push for quality and sustainability."
Although commodities may go up and down, the two families would not want to do anything else. Both families look forward to continuing to raise their animals and crops and sell products to the community. For Anna, that means focusing on her chickens, and maybe helping out with Susanna's ducks.
"I was ready to retire," she said. "I look forward to continuing with selling my eggs and serving the community."
To reach Anna or Harry Borntrager call: 620-465-2616.