"My Address Is" is a Utah Public Radio series exploring Utah issues associated with how and where we live. This is part 1 of 6.
Don Baldwin decided as a young man he wanted to be a dairy farmer, but the square mile, 600-head dairy he now owns in Lewiston began as a much smaller operation.
I grew up in Salt Lake City on the east bench. I come from a non-farm background, and we bought two heifers that had already calved, and 13 springers on Thanksgiving weekend in 1981. We originally started with just those two cows on a rented dairy, an old dilapidated dairy, it took us almost a week to get enough milk in the bottom of a very small tank that they could even measure it where the truck could pick it up.
And we just started from there. Laurie and I working together. She worked as much as I did. I helped her in the house, she helped on the farm. Lots of times we had the kids with us in a cardboard box sitting in the barn or with us in a tractor, you know that's how they grew up was with us. And the kids worked too.
Don’s job on the farm is more than just an owner and dairyman, he grows most of the food used to feed his cattle, from plowing the ground to fertilization and harvesting and mixing the ingredients together. In a given week, he is husband, father, chemist, veterinarian and mechanic.
Don’s existence is intrinsically tied to the milk his cows produce and the land. He says public perceptions about where food comes from has affected farmers.
He believes the majority of the public has lost their connection to the farm, and it affects all aspects of his life. Whether cities are encroaching on the farm and getting upset by the smell, how food is produced, or legislative issues, the American populace is separated from their food by too many generations.
Ok, right now, we are hauling manure onto our fields. It's a by-product of the dairy, and it represents a valuable source of nutrients for our cropping and crop rotations. People used to understand that was part of the game. Now, there's a hue and a cry if we start hauling manure that we are contaminating the roads, we are destroying the aesthetic value of the community because it smells.