Family Members: Matt and Charlene Espenshade; and children Evan and Alan.
Number of Milking Cows: 80
How long have you been involved in dairy farming?
I am a seventh generation dairyman on our farm which has been owned and operated by my family since 1867. Charlene is a fourth generation dairy farmer. She grew-up on her family’s dairy farm, Shupp’s Farm in Tunkhannock, Pa.
What inspired you to become a dairy farmer?
Having grown up on a dairy farm, I can’t imagine life without it. At a young age, I learned about responsibility by feeding calves. As I got older, I appreciated the daily routine of milking and feeding. Yet, there is “seasonality” to the field work, so your days were not redundant. It seemed to be the best of both worlds: stability, yet variety. Charlene fell in love with cows when she started showing Holsteins and Guernseys through 4-H and FFA. Her parents and grandfather, Fred Shupp, were huge influences. They always supported Charlene and encouraged her to take risks and to reach for her dreams. She loved the experience of spending so much time with her family every day. Some of Charlene’s best experiences happened while milking cows with her dad.
What’s your favorite part about being a dairy farmer?
I’ve always enjoyed working with the animals, from assisting with the delivery of a newborn calf, then raising it to be a productive member of the herd. Charlene loves being a part of an industry with a deep family tradition. She also loves the fact that every day is different with new challenges. Charlene is the special sections editor for Lancaster Farming. She likes to visit other dairy farms to learn about how they manage their business and to see their dedication, pride and love for the career they have chosen.
Share your favorite farm family memory.
Because we worked side by side, day in and day out, my two younger sisters and I became very close, and we still are today. Even though they have families of their own and careers outside of agriculture, they are still willing to lend a hand around the farm when needed. For Charlene, her favorite memory is showing at the fair. For her family it’s a great family tradition. It’s a place to visit with farm families we don’t get to see very often and she loves sharing our stories with fairgoers. We are both looking forward to watching our son, Evan exhibit his first show calf this year.