Dairy Farm Family’s Passion Found in Next Generation

For over 30 years, each summer a group of youth have gathered on Kathy and Tony Freeman’s dairy farm near the small town of Othello, WA for a livestock Judging Day.

Their annual Judging Day is more than teaching skills to judge livestock, it’s about getting kids to experience life on a dairy farm and learn life skills like public speaking.

Sunny Royal Slope Dairy was built three generations earlier where the Freeman Family’s dedication to farming and supporting youth has never wavered. Kathy and Tony have been on the farm since 1989, where they say their hearts belong.

 

“I’ve been blessed with a good family, they supported me and did a lot, it couldn’t have been done without them,” Tom said.

Tom Freeman, Tony’s father still gets around the farm at 83 years old, bringing his sense of humor and a smile. More importantly Tom is committed to helping the next generation and has been loyal to that cause his entire life. Tom has led a local 4-H group for over 50 years.

“I’ve been blessed with a good family, they supported me and did a lot, it couldn’t have been done without them,” Tom said.

The Freemans have been lifelong advocates of 4-H, starting with Tom being a 4-H member himself in the 1930s, Tony and his brothers, and then their kids.

Tony has witnessed values learned through 4-H, translate into the work world. “It teaches you how to get to work on time and to do a good job,” he said.

“We have three boys: one’s a teacher, one’s an accountant, and one smart one… he’s on the dairy!” Tony joked.

This year, nearly 60 kids had the opportunity to judge dairy cattle, as well as learn about judging other species, such as swine, sheep, and beef.

Freeman family with Dairy Farmers of Washington flag in barn

“Getting them out here where they can get a little bit of a background of what a farm is like; it’s not an everyday experience,” Tony explained. “So many people don’t understand dairy. That’s probably the biggest key if you get the opportunity to explain something about the whole process and then that causes curiosity and then hopefully they will learn as we get that opportunity to teach.”

Showing and raising a dairy animal takes hard work and dedication and as the numbers decrease of kids growing up in rural areas so do the numbers of those involved in dairy 4-H.

“4-H is still one of the better programs out there,” Tom said.

Building up young advocates and helping to instill a passion for dairy farming by giving the kids the opportunity to be on their farm is one of the reasons the Freeman’s believe so strongly in Judging Day.

“If it touches just one person every time we do this, it’s worth it,” Tom said. “It’s all about the kids.”

As like past decades, Judging Day concluded with lunch and of course ice cream.

“Ice cream is the best part of the day,” Tony smiled.

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