Last of an era: Hamblin dairy farm in Davis County shuts down

Oct 8 2013 - 6:04am

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Stan Hamblin stands in his empty dairy barn once occupied by milking cows in Syracuse on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin was recently forced to shut down his family dairy farm after he could no longer afford rising costs of feed and compete with developers for purchase of land. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
Stan Hamblin walks along the empty stalls at his dairy farm on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin recently sold all of his cows and heifers after he could no longer support his dairy farm, which has been in the family for more than a century. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
FILE - Stanley Hamblin, who runs the last dairy farm in Davis County, walks along his cows after they have been milked on his Syracuse farm, on April 22, 2010. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
Stan Hamblin stands by empty stalls once occupied by milking cows at his farm in Syracuse on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin was recently forced to sell all of his cows and shut down his family business after he could no longer compete with rising costs of feed. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
FILE - Cows wait to be milked at Hamblin Dairy, the last dairy farm in Davis County, on April 22, 2010.The Syracuse farm is over 100 years old. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
Stan Hamblin stands in his empty dairy barn once occupied by milking cows in Syracuse on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin was recently forced to shut down his family dairy farm after he could no longer afford rising costs of feed and compete with developers for purchase of land. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
Stan Hamblin walks along the empty stalls at his dairy farm on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin recently sold all of his cows and heifers after he could no longer support his dairy farm, which has been in the family for more than a century. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
FILE - Stanley Hamblin, who runs the last dairy farm in Davis County, walks along his cows after they have been milked on his Syracuse farm, on April 22, 2010. (Standard-Examiner file photo)
Stan Hamblin stands by empty stalls once occupied by milking cows at his farm in Syracuse on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. Hamblin was recently forced to sell all of his cows and shut down his family business after he could no longer compete with rising costs of feed. (KELLY KEITER/Standard-Examiner)
FILE - Cows wait to be milked at Hamblin Dairy, the last dairy farm in Davis County, on April 22, 2010.The Syracuse farm is over 100 years old. (Standard-Examiner file photo)

SYRACUSE -- Lance Hamblin has nightmares about the day he watched his dairy cows loaded onto a cattle truck to be shipped to a dairy farm in Central Utah.

His memories are of the last time he and his dad, 69-year-old Stan Hamblin, saw their 110 dairy cows. After a lifetime of farming the land purchased by Stan's great-grandfather more than 100 years ago, the last dairy farm in Davis County has shut down.

"In my thinking, the farm was going to be my retirement, and I could turn it over to my son," Stan Hamblin said, fighting back tears. "But that didn't come to fruition.

"The bottom line is, all farm land is disappearing. Someday it's going to come back and bite the nation, because they are not protecting what's feeding them," Stan Hamblin said.

His son agreed, saying as he travels the state, he sees a lot of empty farms.

"It has got to be affecting store shelves in some way," Lance Hamblin said. "People have got to wake up sooner than later, because once farms are gone, they are not coming back."

Stan Hamblin didn't plan to end the farm -- with its orchards, corn fields, hay and cows -- that was to be his legacy. However, a couple of years ago, the Hamblins felt finances get too tight, and rather than go into debt, they knew what had to be done.

"We decided it was time to sell, which was the right thing to do, but not a good thing in my opinion," Stan Hamblin said. "It had been in my family for 100 years, so it's hard to let it go."

The family sold their milking cows in March to a dairy farm in Delta, but kept the 75 heifers through the summer. One month ago, the Hamblins sold them too.

Stan Hamblin said the family also raised corn this summer, but has since sold the corn produced from 110 acres.

"Now it's all gone, and I'm footloose and fancy free," Stan Hamblin said.

"I definitely haven't made a gazillion dollars, and I'm definitely not rich as far as money goes, but I wouldn't change anything," Stan Hamblin said. "I could plant something and watch it grow, and it's been a fulfilling experience in my life."

For Lance Hamblin, it meant more than just cultivating the land.

"I miss working with my boys and making a difference, putting in a hard day's work and seeing the fruits of your labor at the end of the day," Lance Hamblin said. "My boys begged me not to sell, but I told them I couldn't hand them the farm with a million dollars of debt in 10 to 15 years."

Lance Hamblin said he would go back to the farm tomorrow.

"I would do it that quick if I could. Although we have all the equipment ready to go, just buying the cows and feed is over $250,000 just to run it for one year, and then we'd have to keep buying feed."

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