We pour it on cereal, dunk cookies in it, and enjoy a glass with dinner, but not many Arkansans stop to think about where the milk we enjoy comes from. For over thirty years, Susan Anglin’s life has revolved around producing fresh, delicious milk for Northwest Arkansas and beyond.
Susan married into farming when she fell in love with a third-generation dairy farmer. Ryan Anglin’s grandfather, Grover Bagby, purchased acreage outside of Bentonville where he could raise a few milk cows, hogs, chickens and tend an apple orchard. He built the house that still sits on the farm today. Ryan’s mother was born in this house and while his father was in Japan during World War II, she milked cows for the family. Ryan’s parents raised beef cattle, along with a few dairy cows and chickens, but Ryan’s interest lay more on the dairy side of the family business. He started his own portion of the farm in 1972 with 17 dairy cows. Over forty years later, he has grown that number to 225 milking cows.
Susan hadn’t planned on a career in farming, but when she married Ryan in 1984, three generations of farmers, the dairy and the cows came with it. She jumped into her new life with gusto. Anglin Dairy operates on 400 acres near Bentonville, while another 400 acres provide crops, pasture and hay for the cows. The herd is made up of mostly Holstein cattle with their familiar black and white spotted hides. Holsteins provide more milk than any other dairy cow. The Anglins also have a few Ayrshires mixed in with the herd. The red and white cows are the result of a 4-H project.
Anglin Dairy cows are milked twice a day. The milk goes straight from the automated milking equipment to a refrigerated holding tank which keeps it fresh. They Anglins don’t add hormones to their milk, though Susan points out on her blog that one hormone, bst, is a naturally occurring hormone produced by the cow and a small amount of it is present in all milk. The milk is delivered to Hiland Dairy for distribution. If you drink Hiland milk, you’ve probably enjoyed milk from Anglin Dairy.
The Anglins raise all of their replacement dairy cows. This means, in addition to their milking cows, they have calves born each year that need Susan’s care and attention. It’s her job to raise the calves from birth until they are old enough to be moved to a small pasture around 10 to 12 weeks later. The calves reside in individual hutches where Susan monitors them closely. They are the future of the Anglin Dairy herd.
Throughout her years of dairy farming, Susan has experienced both the challenges and joys the farming lifestyle brings. “The most challenging part of being a dairy farmer or a dairy farmer’s wife is that we have no control over so many things that affect our existence, such as weather, feed cost, milk price and an available workforce,” Susan says. She adds that with the remarkable growth Northwest Arkansas is experiencing, farming infrastructure is disappearing. This means the Anglins find themselves going farther to find the supplies, machinery parts and services they need to keep their dairy running smoothly.
Susan says her mother-in-law remarked that Ryan, Susan’s dairy farming husband, was the best crop she ever raised. “I understand that completely after watching my two sons grow up on the farm,” she says. She’s found it a joy to work with her family every day. Both sons, now grown, still work on the farm, and this year the Anglins welcomed a granddaughter to the farm family.
Another aspect of farm life Susan finds rewarding is sharing with others about Anglin Dairy. She leads farm tours and also writes about the reality of being a dairy farmer’s wife on her blog, Spotted Cow Review. Susan offers a fascinating look at farm life, dairy recipes, and an informative Q&A section where readers can learn more about where their milk comes from.
Dairy farming is a 24/7, 365 day a year job. You can learn more about Anglin Dairy at anglindairy.net, where you’ll find Susan’s blog as well. You can also find Susan on Facebook at Spotted Cow Review. Stop by for a new milk recipe and to learn where that delicious glass of milk comes from.