Farmer Focus

The Pyle Family

Hometown: Zeeland, Michigan

Paul and Nancy Pyle are the 2019 YC Chaircouple and are members of the Michigan Milk Producers Association. They farm on a sixth-generation dairy (170 years) in Zeeland, Michigan. They milk around 140 registered Holsteins in a double-8 parallel parlor, housed in sand-bedded freestalls. They also farm 265 acres of corn, hay, wheat and soybeans. Paul and Nancy have been married for 14 years and have five children: Emily (11), Andrew (10), Megan (8), Chelsea (6), and James (5). Nancy is the preschool director at Zeeland Christian School.

What do you like the most – and the least – about working as a dairy farmer?

Paul: I enjoy being able to work with the animals and just be outside in God’s creation. I also enjoy working with my dad and brother, and being able to have my kids sometimes help, too. I enjoy problem-solving the different challenges that arise on a daily basis.

I least like the challenges that are beyond our control, like the weather (a wet fall right now!) and the current economic conditions.

Describe how the work on the farm is shared or divided up in your family.

I handle most of the nutrition, herd health and breeding. My brother Nathan and my dad Dave manage the milking and calf chores. We help each other as needed. We all pitch in when we’re doing field work. All major decisions are handled jointly, as we are co-owners of the farm.

How do you think your farm’s business plan will change 10 years from now?

It’s hard to say how our business plan will change, but over the next 5-10 years, we will strive to increase production, especially milk components. We will continue to transfer ownership of the farm to the next generation. Lastly, we will use the blessing of our farm as a tool to educate consumers so they can see farms in a positive light as we serve our community.

During those days when things aren’t going well, what do you do to keep a positive attitude?

When things aren’t going well, we take a step back and remember how blessed we are. We are blessed to work with family, to raise our kids on a farm, to be our own boss, and to be able to care for God’s creation (both animals and land). At the end of the day, there is more to life than just farming. We continue to follow God’s call on our lives to farm, and we trust He will care for us in whatever way He knows is best for our family. Always be thankful and remember to laugh.

What would you be doing if you were not a dairy farmer?

Farming is the job I’ve had since I was a kid. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. If I couldn’t farm, I would probably be involved in some way with agriculture, or I would find a service-related job where I could work with my hands and help people.

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