He was born to milk cows, dreaming of being a dairy farmer since visiting his great-uncle’s farm in Wisconsin at age five. She was the all-star relief pitcher he needed to be his partner in business and in the game of life. With their recent marriage, they blended their families and grew stronger as a team. And if joining forces as parents of six kids wasn’t enough change for the newlyweds, they added 70 more cows to their dairy herd in the last year.
Jeremy and Deanna Beebe own and operate Double B Dairy Farm and raise six children—Eric, Garrett, Danielle, Alessandra, Delaney and Desaray. Jeremy, the local high school assistant varsity baseball coach, is hard core about the game he loves but his true love and passion is for his family and cows.
The couple was picked as the 2018 Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator (OYDC) runners-up in September. Jeremy has looked forward to participating since he had found out about the program. Meeting MMPA employees at the Novi office, learning more about the cooperative and socializing with other young dairy farmers were highlights for the couple as they participated in the process so far.
Top of the Lineup
Double B Dairy Farm, located in Whittemore, Michigan, is home to 230 cows milked in a ‘Beebe Original’ parlor, as Jeremy calls it. He retrofitted the parlor, one side is a seven stall parallel, the other a five-stall herringbone. Jeremy built the unique set up to make use of limited space while maximizing the number of cows that can fit comfortably in the parlor. They milk all the cows twice a day and the fresh cows four times a day with the help of three full time and four part time employees.
The Beebes farm 550 acres of corn and hay. To focus more on the cows, the tilling and planting field work is often outsourced to Jeremy’s father and brother who have a cash crop farming operation close by. Like in baseball, “Team Beebe” relies on finding the right person or ‘coach’ for the task or ‘position’ and using their talents. Jeremy also works closely with a breeding service company to plan and execute the farm’s reproduction program.
“They are the experts and it also makes sure that the breeding program is very consistent,” said Jeremy.
“Consistency is a huge thing around here,” he added. “The way the cows are milked, animal care, feeding—everything really. Cows love and come to expect it, so that’s what we do.”
For Double B Dairy Farm, milk quality is always first, followed closely by cow comfort. The couple emphasized that milk quality for their operation starts in the milking parlor. They use PC Dart, a dairy herd management computer program for the recordkeeping and data management. The quality reports received by MMPA are also shared regularly with employees and discussed at the monthly staff meetings or in baseball terms, ‘the monthly team huddle.’ During the monthly huddles, the team covers farm standard operating procedures (SOPs) reminders, training and scheduling.
“We let our employees schedule themselves for the most part. It seems to work well for us and we don’t have as many issues with shift changes that way,” said Deanna.
Loading the Bases
Starting with only 30 cows in 2001, Jeremey acknowledges the key to their growth is utilizing outside resources such as MSU Extension and their herd veterinarian services. ‘Pinch hitters’ – baseball slang for a player who bats in place of a teammate, typically at a critical point in the game – are called in when something unexpected happens to not waste a potential opportunity. Jeremy’s pinch hitters come in the form of these experts and advice from fellow dairy farmers help with the farm challenges.
“Ten years ago, [dairy farmers] thought we were squeezing out every bit of efficiency we could, but somehow we are finding other ways to make it with what we already have. Things in the dairy industry are always changing and we need to keep trying to be more sustainable,” said Jeremy.
One example of the ways the farm is maximizing efficiencies is pairing up with a neighboring farm to put away silage for the year. Each neighbor provides a key piece of equipment and they work together to chop and pack the feed for each herd.
Another creative way the couple is making what they have go further is rewarding their employees in an untraditional way. Acknowledging the hard work and dedication of his key players (employees) is important to Jeremy. He offers an employee cattle ownership option for his team. Employees can purchase a calf and the farm covers half of the expenses to raise and care for the animal. After the calf has its first baby, Jeremy rents the cow from the owner. He shared that the employees who have taken advantage of the opportunity have taken more ownership of their responsibilities on the farm because of it.
Knocking it out of the Park
Jeremy and Deanna knew very early in their relationship that what they had was something special. Deanna doesn’t come from a farming background and has worked as a medical assistant in family medicine for the last 17 years. Her lack of experience around a farm did not stop her from falling for the dairy farmer and varsity baseball assistant coach. She now helps with the calves and helps in whatever area is needed most. When Jeremy isn’t at the farm, he spends his time cheering on the kids at their sporting events. The kids are very involved with school activities so there is plenty of cheering to go around.
“Our life here is very busy, but Jeremy works so hard. It is never ending but he is proud of what he does and is a great teammate in our hectic world,” explained Deanna. “I’d love to someday be on the farm full time and help out more. He has turned me into a farm girl.”
The couple, both with three kids from previous relationships ranging from five years old to 18 years old, were married in 2016 after dating for about two years. Team Beebe had many tractor dates and went to many ballgames throughout their whirlwind romance.
“When Dad proposed, we were all at the river and it was so fun. Then he popped the question and it was so romantic. Everyone was so excited when Deanna said yes!” shared ten-year-old Alessandra.
Even when the score is tied, bases are loaded, and it is the ninth ending, true baseball fans like the Beebes are optimistic for the win. Jeremy and Deanna work together as a confident pair of coaches both as owners of their farm and as parents to their children to ensure success. They work tirelessly to make sure the cows are always content and comfortable and to achieve their lofty milk quality goals.
While milk prices are low, and margins are tight, there is little doubt that the owners of Double B Dairy Farm are dedicated to providing world class quality milk and top-notch animal care to their dairy herd.
Jeremy concluded, “I’m determined to be a survivor and that is what makes a difference to me.”
This article was originally published in the November issue of the Michigan Milk Messenger. Subscribe »