Doran Holm was a city boy who discovered the country when he was just 14 years old. Although his father ran a bulk milk route, their family didn't live on a farm. Doran learned the meaning of the word "work" from his farm neighbor and mentor who taught him how to do chores and eventually milk cows. Doran went off to college and graduated from the University of WI-Eau Claire and accepted a lucrative sales position. He met his future wife, Mariann, at a mutual friend's wedding and the two realized they had similar dreams for parenting and raising children. Five years later, Doran accepted a promotion and transferred to Newport Beach, California. Mariann home-schooled the children, which was one of their parenting ideals. Most people in their affluent neighborhood thought she was the family's nanny. "I think I was the only stay-at-home mom in our community," Mariann laughs.
"One night after work I was putting Sarah to bed," tells Doran. "We were reading All the Places to Love when she stopped me and asked, 'Dad, could we buy a farm?'" Right then Doran felt something shift inside of him. The next day, he called his father and jokingly asked if there were any farms for sale back home. His dad was surprised and told Doran that in fact, an old farm nearby just went up for sale. "The next thing I knew," says Doran, "I was buying a farm over the phone."
The following years were hard. Doran was able to get a transfer with his company so that he could work in Wisconsin. He and Mariann went to work fixing up the farm, which had fallen into disrepair. It was a monumental task. In 2001, the family met an older couple that wanted to sell their cows and retire. Doran remembers that, "That was the year we finally brought the farm to life." "It hasn't been easy," says Mariann, "but we've realized our dream. We have a family-run business that keeps us together."
Family-run is right. All family members have jobs to do that change as abilities increase and schedules allow. The three older girls are currently attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and help around the farm as much as their time allows. They even do all of the book keeping and manage the herd health with a computerized system! Doran and the three younger girls are the backbone of daily chores taking turns getting up to milk and returning to the barn every evening. Daniel will soon join their ranks of his older sisters and he will be sure to show the way to the newest member of their family due this fall!
Before it starts to sound too romantic, Mariann offers a reality check. "There have been challenges from the beginning. We weren't always sure we were going to make it, but our vet told us we seemed like perfect candidates to go organic. We didn't know much about it, but the more we learned, the more we realized it was a natural step because of the way we love our animals and honor the land." The Holm Girls Dairy certified organic in 2004. With hard work and passion, things are beginning to fall into place for this extraordinary first generation organic dairy farming family.