Mark and Kristie Schmid’s farm looks straight out of a fairy tale. It’s nestled in a lush valley, with snowy Mount Adams rising above and the White Salmon River rushing alongside the farm. Back in the 1930s, Mark’s grandfather used the river as a refrigerator, storing cans of milk in its chilly glacial waters.
But by the time Mark and Kristie started their own local dairy, the business was no longer so idyllic. To survive in the conventional marketplace, they moved their cows indoors. Unable to hire help, the Schmids themselves worked for ten years without a day off. When they finally went organic, it was like coming home.
And yet it was not for nostalgia’s sake. Back on pasture, the Schmids’ cows live twice as long. Because the dairy doesn’t answer to the impetuous conventional market, the Schmids can keep their herd small and tend it closely. And because of the change, the Schmids’ son, Jeremy, now wants to be the fourth generation to farm the valley. “We just went back to the way dad used to farm,” Mark says. “It was the best decision we’ve ever made.”