Robert Schmid and Family

Farming on Trout Lake

The Schmid family

The Schmid family

Roberts parents, Leon and Esther

Roberts parents, Leon and Esther

"Walking on Water" on Trout Lake

Bringing the milk

Bringing the milk

I'm Robert, a fourth generation family farmer. My family has been in the dairy business here since my great-grandfather settled in Trout Lake in the late 1800s, around the time Washington achieved statehood. We now produce organic milk exclusively for Organic Valley Family of Farms.

My parents love reminiscing about the settling of Trout Lake. My mom Esther, the valley historian, has a collection of old photos, including one of Grandfather out on Trout Lake with the family's pet bear. Thanks to many years of piloting single-engine airplanes, my dad Leon really knows this country. When nearby volcano Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, Dad figured out how to go around the blockades so we could get the best view. Dad recalls that yodeling was a favorite activity of the Swiss-German dairy families who settled the area.

For decades dairy farming was the valley's primary industry. We used to make our butter right here, and age it in firkins (casks) in what we called the butter cave. Several of the families here have continued the tradition and now run their own organic family farms.

My parents Leon and Esther still live right next door. Though my father claims he's retired, he still gets up early and works on the farm everyday. Heck, he works harder than I do!

Meanwhile, our three children-Peter, Aaron and Anna-are the fifth generation living and working on our farm. It's a good environment for kids, because there's always something for them to do and they learn responsibility. I enjoy farming more because my kids are around in the summertime and I love watching them grow and learn. One day I hope to pass the farm along to them.

When we're not farming, we enjoy the outdoors. We make a family backpacking trip an annual event. In winter, we like to ice-skate on the pond and cross-country ski. During snowy winters I can even ski off the roof of the barn!

Our family's love of the outdoors is reflected in our careful stewardship of the land. We've been planting trees along the stream and we put in a duck pond last year. We plan to keep Trout Lake pristine for generations to come. We've continued our pioneer traditions by being among the first western dairy farmers to go organic in 1994.

Today, our herd of 270 milk cows grazes on 580 acres. Their grazing rotates through fields that have been in the family for more than a century. They drink water that is fresh off Mt. Adams. Our cows are raised without the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics or synthetic hormones. We're proud to drink our own milk and want you to know it's the best we can make it.

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