Freund’s Farm enters new era
EAST CANAAN – Eugene and Esther Freund started the family dairy farm more than seven decades ago, and when the time came to hand it down to the next generation, Eugene looked to his sons, Ben and Matthew.
Now, the time has come again for the next handoff and the brothers have found a 27-year old “cow man” from Pine Plains, N.Y. to take over their herd of 300 Holstein milkers.
Ethan Arsenault, in partnership with Lloyd and Amy Vaill of Lo Nan Farms in Pine Plains, has purchased the cows and leased the barn, and will continue the Freund dairy tradition.
Arsenault’s farm is called Canaan View Farm.
“I wouldn’t be able to do it without Lloyd and Amy,” Arsenault said Saturday, Nov. 5 as he stood outside the milk house, flanked by Ben and Matthew. The cows will remain on the Freund Farm, and Arsenault plans to continue to distribute through the Agri-Mark Cooperative that sells under the Cabot brand.
Freund’s Farm, which became the first dairy in the state to innovate with robotic milkers, will continue its two other major businesses: Freund’s Farm Market & Bakery and the Cow Pots product line.
The farm always has been a family affair. Matthew’s wife Theresa has grown what started as a roadside stand into a year-round market. Today, Freund’s Farm Market & Bakery is a go-to for many in the Northwest Corner with its greenhouse and commercial kitchen.
Cow Pots, biodegradable planting pots made from composted cow manure, is an innovation started by Matthew. Distribution of Cow Pots is nationwide.
Cow Pots were featured in a 2007 episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” program.
The Freunds said they wouldn’t be able to make this change without Arsenault.
“A dairy farm needs a cow man,” said Ben. “When he walks into the barn, he can sense immediately if there is a problem.”
Ben said that when the brothers began to think about finding a new owner for the herd, he called Lloyd Vaill of Lo Nan Farms. And Vaill had an immediate candidate.
Arsenault, who attended Delaware Valley University in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, has been interested in cows since the fifth grade. His work day begins early in the morning and ends as the evening sets in. It’s not unusual for him to be summoned to the barn at all hours.
Canaan View Farm has three employees, five milking robots and a robotic feed pusher nicknamed “Juno.”
“Farming is now on the cutting edge of science and technology,” he said. A screen on a computer in the milk office depicts a fever-line graph of each cow’s milk output, just one indication of the advanced techniques used in milk production on the farm.
But Arsenault — the ‘cow man’ that he is—was asked about what experiences on the job are among the most meaningful.
“When you’re bottle-feeding a newborn calf,” he said, “there’s nothing like it.”