Football and farming. Farming and football. The two go hand-in-hand for dairy farmer Blake Gendebien. “Football has been a huge part of the farm culture,” says Gendebien, who’s a Giants fan from way back. He remembers how growing up on his parents’ dairy, Twin Mill Farms in Ogdensburg, New York, the employees, in between milking 50 cows, would play catch with him as a youngster.
Everyone in the barn listened to all the games on the radio, says Gendebien. “My dad had a little FM radio hanging, and we would listen to the game and high-five each other. I’ll never forget one time in particular with Lawrence Taylor causing a fumble against the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990 NFC East championship game, and he also got the ball. I remember embracing my dad and spinning in a circle in the center alley. It was just awesome.”
Photo: Blake Gendebien meeting a Giants player, with his sister, a dairy princess.
Photo: The new milking parlor at Twin Mill Farms. Cows spend about 5 minutes at a time, three times a day, in the parlor being milked. The rest of the day, the cows are free to relax, chew cud, and socialize with the rest of the herd.
Now running the farm, with 550 milking cows, Gendebien works to keep the football tradition alive with his family, and beyond. He supports children in his community through the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, a partnership between dairy farmers and the NFL that encourages children to eat healthy and get 60 minutes of activity every day.
Thirty-one years since sharing that special NFL moment in the barn with his dad, Gendebien’s own tradition includes the family watching the big game together with a taco buffet line nearby.
Gendebien is rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “If Tom Brady wins at this age and stage of the game, it will be super impressive!”
While NFL teams work hard throughout the year and get to see their efforts culminate during the biggest game of the year, dairy farmers work a lifetime to make the handoff of the farm to the next generation.
“I’m not putting any pressure on my kids to take over the farm. But the hope is that if my sons want to, I’ve built a business that can stand the test of time, so it’s an option for them,” said Gendebien.