Dairy products have always taken center stage during the holiday season. From the Christmas cookies prepared with plenty of butter to the warm beverages created with frothy milk, everyone gets their fill of the delicious, nutritious and wholesome products dairy farmers have to offer.
Those involved in the dairy industry know that after producing real milk and real dairy products from real cows, there isn’t room for milk substitutes at the table. After all, margarine is never a replacement for butter in a Christmas cookie recipe and nothing else can produce that perfect latte froth.
A desire for realness can be also be found in the Great Lakes region’s tree industry. A real Christmas tree is what makes the magic of the holiday season come true because nothing can bring back childhood memories like the citrusy, pine smell filling a living room on Christmas morning.
For the Booms family in Moorestown, Michigan, realness during Christmas is enjoyed on a whole different level. While their barn is filled with 100 black and white Holsteins producing the real milk to go along with Santa’s cookies, 10 acres of their field is filled with rows and rows of evergreens producing the real Christmas tree that their gifts are set under.
Booms Dairy began in 1987 after Russell Booms fell in love with milking cows growing up on his dad’s dairy farm. According to Russell, after you do something that long, it just makes sense to continue the practice while being your own boss on your own farm.
Today, Russell works hand in hand with his son, Jordan, who is gearing up to someday take over their operation. With family being their main motivator to wake up in the morning and milk cows, they’ve enjoyed the flexibility that comes with working as a family.
“We have a set schedule that just works for us,” Jordan explained. “Basically, we milk every other and one day a week one of us doesn’t milk at all so that a guy has a day off completely.”
This schedule has also allowed Jordan to give back to his community by serving as a volunteer firefighter at two local departments. The heroic effort was never his plan as a kid, but during high school, he realized the benefit that he could provide to members of his community in the role.
“I thought that becoming a firefighter was something worthwhile doing,” Jordan said. “I’m one of the only ones around during the day where I can leave to go do something.”
This straightforward approach to becoming the solution to a problem is what has driven the most recent changes on Booms Dairy. After Jordan graduated from Lake City High School in 2007, he became a driving force to creating change on the farm.
“I was always around 60 cows or so for a long time,” Russell said. “When Jordan graduated, we continued to grow.”
Since the farm started with 12 cows over 30 years ago, growth in numbers also meant growth in building size. In 2007, they built on to their freestall barn and added an additional stall to their parlor to make room for more cows. As Jordan took a more active role on the farm, he also pushed for different equipment to make things more efficient and profitable based on the growing farm size.
With the next generation gearing up to take over the farm and tough times hitting, Jordan proposed a TMR mixer as the solution to the issues they were facing.
“We needed more milk out of our cows to pay the bills and I saw that as a way to do it,” Jordan said. “It’s definitely helped in milk production and cow health too.”
As far as farm practices or breeding management goes, everything is laidback. “We just go with the flow,” Jordan said. “We don’t push our cows hard. We just let them do their thing.”
As another solution to decreasing milk prices, Jordan started into the wholesale Christmas tree industry in 2010 as a way to bring in some cash on the side. As for how you get started in the business, Jordan explained that it’s simple, “you just put trees in the ground.”
The ease of starting up the business came with help from his uncle who owns a larger tree operation complete with a selling lot, trained employees and a couple thousand Christmas trees. Today, Jordan has 7,000 Black Hill Spruce, Balsam Fir and Concolor trees on 10 acres of land.
There aren’t many similarities between caring for cows and raising trees, but the diversification process made complete sense for a farm located in the heart of Michigan’s Christmas tree producing area, Missaukee County.
The newly fledged tree operation is surrounded by farmland, forests and fields of Christmas trees giving the area a unique seasonal feel during the holidays. With their house tucked up on a hill overlooking their Christmas tree fields, Christmas for the Booms is surreal.
Jordan and his wife, Erin, make sure to give their son, Isaiah (4), the real Christmas experience by putting milk out with Santa’s cookies and decorating a real, Michigan Christmas tree straight from their own field. Edison, along with his soon to be new sibling, have the privilege of growing up on Booms Dairy Farm and learning firsthand the work it takes to make available all the real pleasures of the holiday season.
This article was originally published in the November/December 2019 issue of the Milk Messenger. Subscribe »