Four Leaf Clover Dairy Indiana
If you knew that there was a possible timeline on your life- what would you do? Faced with the possibility that you will not live out your days with your spouse, children and family- what would be the first thing that crossed your mind?
I know what my first thought was when I found out that I had an uphill battle ahead of me a few years ago. My first thought, after the initial shock, was that I had not had a chance to take my sons to Universal Studios to see the new Harry Potter feature. THIS was what I thought of. It was so much easier to swallow than the thought of missing their lives, graduations, smiles and hugs.
Leontien Oostdijck van de Laar had a dream of coming to the United States from her home of the Netherlands and starting a dairy farm. The farm is owned and operated by members of the van de Laar – Oostdijck family, who are originally from the Netherlands and moved to the United States to start the operation. The dairy opened in 2007, and has since produced approximately 130,000 pounds of milk a day since.
This farm, one of the largest in Indiana, currently houses close to 1700 dairy heifers. This 80 acre site was built from the ground up based on the vision that Leontien had. Her drive and determination gave energy to her family and future husband Baastian and still carries them through to this day.
Leontien found out she had melanoma after making the move to this country and establishing her dairy farm in Geneva, Indiana. Her story is heart wrenching at the same time it is inspiring. I wish I had known her but visiting the farm that was her dream with her friends placed in my heart a reminder of hope.
She has been gone for about a year and a half but her presence is still felt in the halls of the business office, the walk to the milking parlor and as visitors are welcomed in the front door.
I am not a farmer and I am by no means an expert in the operations of a large scale dairy farm. I walked into this knowing it would be hard but that the face of farming, specifically the face of THIS farm needed to be shared. Their love of Leontien shines through their dedication to professionalism, producing a quality product and caring for cows in a humane and decent way. I could get into the facts I learned and all of the ways they are doing it right- but I won’t. I hope for your trust that visiting this farm changed my life. This was all she ever wanted. That and a family and husband around her to love and share her life. She had that.
What more could you ask for in the last days of your life?
Below I shared a few of the photos I took the day of my tour. I urge you to visit her blog to read a few of her witty and touching posts. From 2010 though the last days of her life she chronicled the good, the bad and the heartbreaking. A lighter post is one about her wedding to Baastian and why it took 3 times to finally say I do! (read HERE) Also visit Four Leaf Clovers website HERE
What is the takeaway from this post?
My hope is that you see past farm size and feel the heart, tears, sweat and long hours that go into an operation such as a farm. This is not for the faint of heart and those that like to punch a time clock and have ‘off time’. So much emphasis is wrongly placed on farm size when all that matters is the center of the farm- how it is managed, cared for and the footprint it makes.