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Marietta, NY

Memory Lane Farm

The lamp over the kitchen table at Jim and Marcia Masters’ farmhouse on Memory Lane Farm in Marietta is made out of the wooden wheel from a baby carriage once pushed by Jim’s great grandmother. A picture drawn by a five-year old, complete with cows and a tractor, made by their grandson, now 20, hangs framed in a front sitting room. Portraits of great cousins, aunts, uncles and children are everywhere you look in the old, neat-as-a-pin farmhouse, all with a story… all with a meaning. “Our heritage means so much to us,” Marcia says. It is how the Masters live their lives, with meaning and purpose, as is the way with Byrne Dairy farmers.

“We have had good luck with Byrne Dairy,” Jim says. “They are always good about quality, and inspecting for good quality.”

Memory Lane Farm has been part of the Masters family story ever since Marcia was a little girl running around with her siblings on the land in Marietta. Now the farm is one of the many local, family farms providing quality milk for the Byrne Dairy Company. It is a small farm with about 75 milking cows, 150 Holsteins altogether. The Masters have chosen to keep their farm small. It is the only way Jim could see it working, and it has worked well for the family. “We have had a lot of help and support from family and friends over the years,” Jim says. Marcia will tell you it’s been the hard work and efforts of Jim, and his sensible business ways, which has kept their farm running well.

The longtime commitment with Byrne Dairy has helped the Masters keep a steady income over the years while farming and raising their three children Kim, Eric, and Dianne. The Masters have also planted crops, like corn and oats. Back when Marcia’s uncles farmed the land, they all worked on planting and harvesting cabbage. To show that part of their heritage, they have an old wooden cabbage slicer hanging in their garage on display. As Jim says, he couldn’t see himself doing any other job. He, like Marcia was born into a farm family, and it is clearly what drives him. Every morning, Jim is up by 3:30 a.m. With Marcia’s help they milk the cows, do the chores and come back to the house for breakfast, then finish their work until the evening. The couple hasn’t been on a true vacation in about 15 years. Though their children and grandchildren are on hand to help, the work is always there.

Naturally, care for their cows is a number one concern. Jim and Marcia love the animals they work with, from the dairy cows to the 60 or so chickens and some pigs. They have managed to provide a home for several happy barn cats as well. Jim likes to provide a healthy, clean environment for his cows, and said that when Byrne Dairy had farmers sign a contract to not use rBST, he was happy to sign. “We never used it to begin with, so it was not a problem,” Jim said. Memory Lane Farm, their workspace day in and day out, is also the site for family gathering. More than 100 members of the family got together last summer. The Masters’ grandkids play at Memory Lane Farm, meet up with the Byrne Dairy milk delivery man, and work-when and if they are able. Even their daughter, Dianne and her family who have moved farther away, still help when they can. Dianne helped Marcia put together a plan, and filled out paperwork for the New York Agricultural Land Trust to keep the farm protected from ever being broken up and sold in pieces. Memory Lane farm is a collection of land from all of Marcia’s uncles who once farmed as neighbors. It is whole now, and will remain that way, thanks to the land trust.