The black-and-white Holstein stood at attention and nudged the familiar hand of the woman who has spent most of her 80 years tending cattle on the 500-plus acres her family has owned for more than 100 years at Lou-Ida Farms, Lordstown, OH.
“My mother loved the cows,” she said softly while lightly patting an expectant mom’s nose. “That must be where I get it from. She must have passed it on to me because I’ve always loved the cows.”
Other than 10 years spent teaching school, Mary Young Liming has lived most of her life as a dairywoman, working the homestead in Lordstown that her grandparents, Louis and Ida Ohl Young, established in the 1870s.
Now, nearly 150 years later, she continues to oversee the family dairy business that has spanned several generations and this year marks a century of breeding registered Holsteins.
Mary Liming grew up on the farmland that stretches along Austintown Warren and Hallock Young roads in Lordstown near Mineral Ridge. Although it’s believed her grandmother’s family, the Ohls, settled on the land years earlier, records show Louis, a contractor, and Ida Ohl Young purchased their own portion around 1870 and named it Lou-Ida Farms. The Youngs’ son, and Liming’s father, Lamar Young, was interested in dairy cattle. In 1917, the family started breeding registered Holsteins.
Mary Liming, an only child, learned the ropes from her father, Lamar, and mother, Lillian.
“They didn’t have a son, so I was both a son and daughter when it came to working on the farm,” she said with a smile. “I always helped my dad. This is where I always wanted to be. Some of my classmates have been all over the world, but I’ve never left Lordstown.”
Liming’s father entrusted her to register all of the farm’s livestock — a job she still has.
She and her husband, Lee Liming, married in 1965. He took over the business and the two have operated it together since. Their son, Lamar Liming, and his wife, Estell, became the next generation to help run the business and their children, Louis, 21, and Marlena, 20, also are helping to carry on that tradition.
Lou-Ida is one of 43 active dairy farms in Trumbull County and 2,339 in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The number of family-owned dairy farms has continually declined, said Lamar Liming, who works full time for the family business, which also produces grain. Lou-Ida, which employs one full-time staffer, three part-time employees and several seasonal workers in addition to the family, sells its raw milk to a cheese factory in New Wilmington, Pa. The farm’s grain goes to a co-op in Canfield.
The family owns 525 acres and rents another 250 — all of which are farmed and used to grow oats, corn and soybeans, Lamar Liming said. The spread includes about 130 cows, several barns and two silos that tower overhead.
“This is what I’ve always known,” said Lamar Liming, who, like his mother, grew up in the business.
He, along with his wife and grandparents, graduated from The Ohio State University, where both of his children now study.
“That’s a family tradition as well,” Estell Liming said. “My husband and I met there, Lamar’s grandparents met there. Mary was the only one who didn’t go to Ohio State.”
She instead went to Youngstown State University.
“I wanted to go to Ohio State. I wanted to study dairy, but they told me there were no women in agriculture at that time and that I wouldn’t be successful,” Mary Liming said.
Along with its strong affiliation to OSU, the family also has a longstanding tradition of participating in 4-H.
“Farming is a big part of what this family is about,”said Estell Liming. “I married into it, but I love it. I love every bit of it.”
At one time the family bottled milk. The business also included an orchard until the late 1970s when Lamar Young died.
“There are challenges, probably the biggest are that there are more regulations now and the profit margins have gotten tighter and tighter,” Lamar Liming said. “The cows produce more than they did 40 years ago … there’s better nutrition, genetics and the dairy industry has evolved quite a bit and made a lot of advances … but it’s also less profitable.”
Mary Liming confessed there have been many days she has wanted to give up.
“But deep down, you really don’t want to give up,” she said. “When you have a family business, you work every day, there are no holidays and everybody works. It takes everybody to keep it going and there’s always something that needs done. When you grow up farming, it’s what you know, it’s what you do. There really is no other life.”
Source: Tribune Chronicle, [email protected]