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June 21, 2014

Daydream Farms does dairy with devotion

By Cathy B. Koplen Contributing Writer
The Daily Star

---- — Farming is hard work, and for a modern couple with occupations to choose from, farming is an unlikely way to provide a living for a family.

And yet, five years after quitting their day jobs and committing to the mortgage and daily grind of a dairy farm, the Ellis family appears to be doing well at Daydream Farms.

“We are paying the bills, and putting food on the table,” said Marie Ellis, mother of two grade-school boys, who with her husband milks more than 50 cows every day. The milk they provide is shipped to Roxbury and Jamaica, Queens, where it is packaged into small cartons and served in Manhattan schools.

“It is a job, like any other job,” Ellis said. “Some days are good days and some days not so good. But for the most part it is a wonderful life. All of the cows have personalities. Some of them are just here, they do their job and that is it — they have no personality. But then there are some that are so personable, some are really curious and some are sweet as they can be.”

A typical day on the farm begins at 4 a.m. when nearly 100 farm animals are fed. The milking begins around 5 a.m. and is usually done by 6:30 a.m.

“When Tony and I both do the milking, it goes quicker,” Ellis said. “When he has something he has to get done, and I have to do all of the milking, it takes longer.”

Tony and Marie Ellis met at Morris College where she was an Equine major and he studied engine repair. Both of them were interested in farming and large animals. Tony Ellis always loved big tractors and farm equipment. He leased land to grow and bale hay, which he sold for profit.

The couple married and began acquiring beef cows that they grazed on leased land. Some of the land the Ellises leased belonged to Roderick Dutcher, who had been in the dairy business most of his life. He had started to downsize, and his children had their own businesses. None of the Dutcher family wanted to continue the dairy farm.

“I was working at Springbrook and Tony was doing mechanic work, and we talked to Rod,” Marie said. “He really wanted the farm to stay a dairy farm. He had pieced this farm together from bits and pieces of land he had bought over the years.”

On Friday as Marie Ellis explained the milking process, people drove past the Otego farm, blew their horns and waved. The connections the Ellis family has in the community run deep. Tony Ellis grew up in Otego and has known most of the families in the area all of his life. It makes selling hay easier when the market is a familiar one.

“There is something to be said for growing up on a farm,” Marie Ellis said. “Both Alex and Chris (her sons) have chores to do. They understand taking care of something other than themselves. They understand about life, animals are born and some animals don’t make it. Some animals are very special to us.”