CGP Community Stories

Dean Utter, November 14, 2015


Dean Utter, November 14, 2015


Dairy Farming
Up state New York


Dean Utter was raised on his family’s dairy farm in Cherry Valley, NY and has been in the dairy farming business his whole life. Dean attended school locally up through high school before attending Cornell University. After returning to Cherry Valley, he continued working on his family’s farm with his brother. This interview includes his experiences in the agriculture industry and the changes he has witnessed in the business. The interview begins with Dean’s recollections of growing up on the farm and his schooling. Dean’s narrative relates to agriculture but is not solely limited to that scope. The interview includes his experiences of early schooling and later college education. Another theme is change over time specifically in the dairy farming business. Dean’s early memories of growing up on the farm with his family are necessary to fully understand changes over time. In the latter part of the interview, Dean gives his insight into what dairy farming and agriculture might look like in the future.


Peter Glogovsky


Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York-College at Oneonta




Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY








Upstate New York
Cherry Valley, NY


Peter Glogovsky


Dean Utter


529 County Hwy 32A
Cherry Valley, NY 13320


Cooperstown Graduate Program
Research and Fieldwork Course (HMUS 520)
Oral History Project
Fall 2015

Interview with Dean Utter by Peter Glogovsky

Interviewer: Glogovsky, Peter
Interviewee: Utter, Dean
Date: November 14, 2015
Location of Interview: Cherry Valley, NY

Archive or Repository: Cooperstown Graduate Association, Cooperstown, NY

PG= Peter Glogovsky
DU= Dean Utter

[START OF TRACK 1, 0:00]
Today is November 14, 2015. Interview of Dean Utter by Peter Glogovsky for the Cooperstown Graduate Program Research and Fieldwork course. This is a recording done at Dean’s kitchen, in his house.
Have you always lived in Cherry Valley?


Could you describe what it was like growing up on the farm, the family farm?

Well, my dad bought the farm in 1940 and I was born in 1940 on the farm here. And everything was done by hand. There wasn't very much mechanical stuff, we had horses, he did have a tractor back then. It was a good place to grow up. My parents were good parents. We always had lots to eat, when we were sick, our mother took care of us. She was good with that because back then we had measles and mumps. Probably the biggest worry of diseases was polio back then. And when August come around, they wouldn't let you go swimming because there was a connection maybe between polio and swimming that they didn't know. Maybe it's one of them old wives' tales that didn't prove out to be true but it’s just, you do a lot of things when you don't really know what the actual problem is or how to solve it. But, we were lucky here. Actually, we had three doctors in our community, Cherry Valley. And they made house calls, they did. So they would come check us out and I had measles and mumps and I don't remember having chicken pox but, I think probably I did because everyone else did [laughs]. But I remember having the mumps and laying on the couch and swollen lungs, or, swollen glands here in my throat and I had a lot of ice cream to eat [laughs].

But, I started school when I was five. The bus picked me up at the door. My brother and I, my brother's older than I am and rode to school on the bus and started kindergarten. The first week of kindergarten, I spent underneath the table because I was a shy country boy. After that week they couldn't get me not to go to school, I liked it so much. There were other kids to play with and so, but school occupied my growing up years of course, it was the same, actually it was the same timeframe as schools are today. And education hasn't changed in a hundred years in the way it is given to us or the time that we put in. And I always criticized that because times change, jobs change, people change but the school system always kind of stayed steady and, that’s not all bad either because you could depend on the schools to be there and be open in that time of year.

So I had a tricycle and all the other things that kids had back then but we didn't have a lot, but nobody else had a lot either. We always had Christmas time, always had a Christmas tree and family and grandparents were here, we had a lot of grandparents. And today some kids never know their grandparents because they either live so far away or they don't have any. Back then, they had both sides of the family's grandparents, great grandparents. It was get-togethers, used to have Sunday dinners at my mother's parents' house. We would go over there and the men would play cards, and us kids would get bored [laughs] play around and it was a good time for family and friends.

My dad had a car, he had a car then, had a ’40 Ford that I remember. He had that until 1949. And he traded that in and bought another Ford, and it was the biggest piece of junk he ever had. He had a lot of trouble with it. I think he kept it a year, but then he started to get away from a lot of the hand work and get into the farm modernization equipment back then which was from loose hay to baled hay. He was one of the first ones around to have a baler, and they had to have three people to run the baler. You had to have the person to drive the tractor, you had to have one person who was the wire baler and he had to poke these wires through the baler to make the bale, through the bale. And the guy on the other side, he'd sit there and poke and hook the wires so that the bale would stay together. And a dirty job because you had all that dry hay coming in there and pushing out the fog and the dust and whatever else happened to be in the hay. Bees, and pick up bees in it. Dad paid for that baler the first year by doing custom baling, which was a pretty good deal. It was quite a switch from the loose hay to the baled hay because they dropped the bales on the ground and they'd pick them all up and put them on the wagon. The next year he got a slide to put on the baler and they put it up on, directly on to the wagon and they didn't have to pick them up off the ground. But you had to have somebody on the bale to stack it, so a lot of times I was fortunate enough where my brother was a little older and I didn't have to hook wires and get in the dust. But then I helped on the wagon which is as much as a kid could do, is loading the bales. When they got high enough, I’d push them back on the top or something.

That was primarily our summer, we'd get done baling and of course we would be dirty and dusty. Off we'd, take off for Otsego lake, dump all our dirt in Otsego Lake and go swimming that night, to clean off, come back home. We had fun, it was a group of us that would go. Dad always had, there was always other kids around growing up and we would all go together, our cousins or neighbor kids or somebody going along and we'd all... My mother would take us over or our father, that was the heyday back then. Then of course when we got in school we got away from the farm work then. But when it got into winter we had, it was outdoor activities, we made snow, we used to make forts in the snow banks. We had a lot of snow back then too. I lived on the county line, so the township from Canajoharie would come up and drive right around our house. And they'd push up a big snow bank near the house because then they did not have to back the plow up. And then Cherry Valley would come from the other way, and then they would go around too. We had a nice big snow bank out in the back of the house. As kids we would dig a big hole in it, put some boards on the top and we had a fort [laughs].

What other jobs did you have when you were young on the farm?

Well we had, of course back then we had pigs and chickens. I had chickens when I grew up and I had to collect, I had to take care of all of them myself. Had to feed them, water them, and collect the eggs and candle the eggs. Fix them up for size and then I'd take them over to a guy [neighbor], a guy would come around and buy eggs from farmers for the markets and then they'd take them to a central place and they would sell them. Actually I got the money for the eggs, my dad paid for the feed, so that was a pretty good deal. But my mother got all the eggs she wanted, they got all the chickens she wanted too for eating and that stuff too, you know so. But it worked out pretty good. I was, back then they paid interest in the bank and it was about four percent. I never have been and I’m not a person who spends a lot of money on what I call unnecessary things so I'd bank a lot of my money. When I went to college I had enough money to pay for college. When I went through back then, I think it was 425 dollars a year for college.

Where did you go for college?

I went to Syracuse for one year and wanted to be an engineer and the more I sat behind a desk and inside the more I disliked it. I just didn't think I could, I just didn't like it. And to sit there and just do one thing wasn't my, it just wasn't me. Then I liked the outdoors of course too, so then I transferred to Cornell and I went there to school and which was much better. And there were other guys just like me, you know, agriculture guys and outdoor guys. But I liked Syracuse that was a good, growing up experience. I think we had, my class in school, I graduated with 23 and I think 20 of them from there actually went on to college. Some of them went to two-year schools, others went to four-year schools, a couple of them went into the service. It was a good time, school of course was always busy with plays and sports. I played sports. Of course we used to play sports. Today, everything is organized sports but back then we were organized but we organized it ourselves, and we made the rules as we went, out of bounds. Maybe this week we'd be playing a home run would be at this spot, next week we would change the lines and it would have to be another spot, so, when you get organized you can't. It was just kids playing ball, it was having a good time and stuff so. I had neighborhood kids, there was kids down in Sprout Brook, a little hamlet close to where I live here and, about a mile away. And there was kids down there the same age as I was, we were in school together. I'd go down there sometimes or they'd come up here and we'd play games or do what kids do when they get together, not too much, just all part of growing up. Yup, yup.

There seemed to be more community. They had the Grange and different activities going on. Summer time they had baseball league up at another small hamlet, we would go to baseball games in the summer. In winter we would kind of hunker down. Stayed inside, of course there was farm chores to do and I had chores I had to do, taking care of calves, had to water them back then, feed them, do some of the cleaning of course. When school come along, I got out of some of that and got into sports, I didn't have to do that. It was a good time. I saved up enough money, when I was about 16 almost 17 I had bought, I got my driver’s license, first time I tried. And bought a ’50 Chevrolet car, paid cash for it. It was 350 dollars, for 15 dollars I got a radio with it, and it was easy to run because it was just knobs, turn the knob then you had another knob to make the channels go up and down. Where with today's technology you got to have a kid in to show you how to run the radio, or you can't work it [laughs].

Did you take the car to college, to Cornell?

No, let's see, I didn't the first semester, the second semester I did.

What did you learn in Cornell?

Agriculture, I studied agriculture, some ag engineering too. I liked working. And that is a big one too. I would work with someone else but I didn't like it. I'd rather work myself and on my own, you know. I would do the whole process, let's say for example. You're planting corn, or something, where you just don’t go out and throw the seed in the field, there is a process with the preparation of the land, figure out the fertilizer and then along came, back then, spring come along and kill the weeds and and that stuff and you had to work that in your system. There’s varieties that you buy, some are better than others with corn. But it was a whole process. If something didn't work out, that was my responsibility and next year it didn't happen again. Because I would compensate for it. Where if you work for somebody else, it didn't work out, you'd probably get fired. I just couldn't work like that. I would do everything I knew to try to do it the right way, and I had a lot of success with corn and with a lot of other crops and with the cattle. I liked working with cattle. It's just something I think it's me. I like to do the whole process and not just a little piece of it. If you go working, and my mother she'd, when I was in high school, went to work in the Beech-Nut [plant in Canajoharie] down there. And all she ever did was work on the gum machine down there. Then that to me that was. And other people that was just what they liked, that routine thing, process, and the responsibility of doing the work but no responsibility of [having] the machine there or making sure it works or all that stuff. But you had somebody else to fix it. Where doing the business and running the farm, that’s stuff I had to do myself, which I liked doing. You know, and if it got to the point where I couldn't fix it, you had to hire somebody to come in and help do it. But it was a good time.

Was dairy farming always the area you wanted to pursue?


With agriculture?

Well, one thing about dairy farming was that you had a steady income. You always had that milk check at the end of the month. Might not be as much as you needed; there might be more than you needed. But there was a consistent income where other types of farming, the grain farm and the vegetables and that, you had a window there where you have all your income and then usually you had to do a lot of budgeting and planning to get through the rest of the year because you couldn't grow any more cauliflower or broccoli. Or, and your grain, once you’re done with that you could store it and sell it at different times of the year or you could sell it all at once. Whichever way you chose. But it wasn't a steady monthly income for one thing. I liked working with cattle, doing the whole process. Everything from preparing the feed for them to milking the cattle to putting out the best milk that I could put out for the time. And there was taking care of the cattle. We were lucky, we had a good farm for one thing. We had good land. And we had good cattle. My dad had always been one to not do things the hard way and so he'd always gotten [purchased] machinery and things like that to [help] us. Too, it's just the way that I’ve operated all these years too. We're to the point now where if you can't go with a machine called a skid steer it don't get done [laughs]. There's very little now that we do on the farm by hand. There's hardly anything that we do by hand anymore, it’s all pretty much done with machine.

What are daily operations like? Could you tell me what a day would typically look like on the farm?

There being in the summer, of course some is the same year round. You’re out in the barn about six o'clock in the morning, and you would sweep up the cows and start the milking then, and then when that was done we'd feed the cows their silage and some hay or their grain. We used to cow on their diet, we fed them feed or grain then we fed them corn silage, then we'd feed them hay too, but we usually fed them the corn silage and feed right after milking. After we'd cleaned up the, you'd have to clean up the equipment. Then we'd go to feed the cattle, and that meant we'd go eat breakfast. And then we'd go back clean the barn, scrape out the mangers and bed the cattle. We led the cattle out check them for breeding and stuff like that, give them exercise. Yup, and then clean the barn and then bed them and then put feed in the alleys and bring the cows in and we usually give them hay at that same time too. And then they would be done for the day and then we would, it depends on the time of the year, you would, if the snow was blowing cold, you went in and set by the stove. In the summertime you had to go and start your haying and one guy usually would go mow and the other guy would rake the hay up and get ready to bale. And then usually about one o'clock you'd have that done and then you'd eat lunch and then come back and then start baling hay for the day or doing other different other types of chores depends on the time of year too. Sometimes, we used to have oats and we used to have to combine oats and that process. The daily chores with the cattle was pretty much the same, but the in-between is when you'd change what you were, it depends on the time of year as I said. Sometimes in the fall we'd go in the woods, bring out wood or logs and have to cut up for building something. Well about four o'clock in the afternoon we'd stop doing the field work or the chores, usually we had a plan so we had that work done that we wanted to do for the day. We'd come into the barn, push up the cattle and feed them another dose of grain, corn silage and get the milkers ready to milk and we would be done by 6-6:30 in the evening. If it didn't get done in the evening the women would get hollering like heck, of course they would have supper ready for you and when you go in the evening so, if you didn't want a cold supper you better get your chores done. But we always did that, my dad always did, we were always good about that. You had to make allowances for the women's work too. Because they did a lot too on the farm. But so we'd do the milking and finish up feeding the batch of hay and then we were done for the day. And depending on the time of year, depending on what we did after, we usually didn't do any farm work after supper at night. My dad had a garden, he tended the garden or mowed the lawn. I used to mow the lawn all the time. The first lawn mower I ever had was electric. It had a long electric cord. That was better than the push ones by hand. But anyway, yeah. That was pretty much. You'd go to bed depends on what was going on. School time of year, there'd be sports and that stuff. They had a ball game and we'd go to that. Probably ten o'clock we'd be in bed at night. Start the same routine over the next day. Saturdays, depending on the time of year and what work we did, but we tried not to do a lot of farm work on Saturdays. Every day the cattle work had to be done, seven days a week, and your time off whatever else you did. You had to work in between that much time so. Sometimes, sometimes we'd go up, go to town to the feed store or whatever you had to get done. There's a lot of different things that we did back then.

Did you, would you have bottled the milk or did somebody come in to collect the milk after you would process it?

When I was a kid, they had a, what they call them, you probably seen them, milk cans. And we'd put milk in the milk cans, and they took milk to the milk house in pails. Put it into the milk cans, strained it. Make sure there wasn't any dirt, and put it in a water cooler we had and we'd do that twice a day. In the morning we'd set it out on a bench and a guy would come and pick it up for us and take it to the creamery. Then when I was about, probably 1952, Dad put in what was called a bulk tank and actually got paid then for putting that in. And then all the milk went into this one big tank instead of the milk cans. And then a guy would come in with a truck with a big tank would come and pick it up, take it. But back when we had every other day, you know, back when they had the cans they'd take it every day. A guy we hired, paid a guy to come and do it, when he'd come back, he'd leave the cans for the next day so we'd fill them up. Dad always made quite a lot of milk so sometimes we'd have a surplus so we'd had to have a cooler around outside that we'd put the milk in. These coolers you had to put the milk up over the side of it. These weighed about eighty-five pounds, put them in the tank. So my dad got a pulley system hooked up so that you could pick it up with a pulley, push it over on the pulley, set it down on the tank and you didn't have to lift it. He had a bad back too and I think that's one of the reasons why he did, took them out and he'd hook this machine on them, the milk can had two handles on it, one on each side so you could lift it. Lift it up and down, hook that on and roll it over and set it on the thing so even me as a kid could do that. It wasn't something I couldn't do, but he'd always try to figure out a way to do things easier or make it better for, he had to work. I mean, the work had to be done but he tried to do it the easiest way that you could. But then the milk went to a creamery down in Fort Plain, back then Dairyman's League, they made it into cheese down there. A big storm come one year and the guy didn't show up so dad had a truck, he put it on a truck and we took it down ourselves. But we had to take a different route to get there because the roads were plugged and it wasn't plowed. That was a good experience. I was lucky, to grow up at that time and see all these things happening, and participating in a lot of it. I always thought I was, yet I wasn't big enough or old enough where I had to do a lot of the physical work, parts of it but I helped out. You know, that extra hand, sometimes that's all you need to do a project so. I got old enough so I could drive the tractor. I drove the tractor a lot, rake and cultivate. Nobody liked to cultivate so they stuck that with me. I talked my dad into putting an umbrella on it, because back then when the corn got so high, you had to cultivate but you had to go slow. And you had to be careful, you'd fall asleep. When you fall asleep, you don't follow the row [laughs]. So I talked dad into putting an umbrella on it that was my air conditioner. That helped a lot, kept that hot sun off of you.

How many acres was the farm?

This farm here was 220 acres. We had another farm that Dad eventually owned and that was about 45 acres of work land on it. And we had pasture land there too for the heifers. So it was probably 250-300 acres. Yup, that was a good sized farm back then. Dad always had hired help too. Always had that extra person, and it makes a lot of difference doing work. One guy can go ahead...

[START OF TRACK 2, 0:00]

They do today, guys would quit and ask somebody else. When my brother got old enough he went on the farm and then he got married, that made it a lot better because there was more continuity there then, yup. Well both my uncles actually worked on the farm too for a while. Yeah, always had hired help around, somebody to help do the work. And I got pictures, maybe I've showed them to you, there are some of them.

What changes over time, so, when you were young to today, what changes in the business have you noticed?

There's a lot of changes. It's nowhere's near, as I said one thing now you don't have to do is the physical labor today. Back then there was a lot of physical... you used to go in the woods and you had to load the logs up skids by hand and that stuff and that was work. Cut the trees and get them out, de-limb them and bring the lumber back, stack it, pile it. Whereas today usually you don't have your own lumber, you go to a lumber yard and all you do is bring it home and use it. But it's the physical work that's been taken out of it and I think it's probably been the biggest change in and more into maybe more professional, management type things of your money of where it goes and keeping track of it. Back then they didn't have a lot of money coming in so you didn't have to worry about tracking it because there wasn't any there to track [laughs]. But, they did have enough money coming in to survive and pay for the farm. My dad paid eighteen thousand dollars for the farm here when they bought it and my mother couldn't sleep. He said to her, "What difference does it make, we haven't got anything anyway." To buy this farm and have what you got and now with all the machinery stuff it would be over a million dollars. That would probably be the biggest change. We got one piece of equipment that we buy, we paid more for that than my dad did for the whole farm and the cattle and the equipment and everything on it back at that time. And that's probably been the biggest change. Another big change is the labor part and the milk. We had, Dad usually had, used to have one, he always had one hired man. Always had kids around to help. Now we have, my son runs the farm, he has two hired men. Back then they milked 40, he milked about 40 cows. I can't tell you how much milk they put out by the end of the year but now he milks about 150 and puts over two million pounds of milk out in a year. So the production per person on the farm and the production on the land and all the technology that's gone in to the seeds and the equipment that you buy. You do a lot more work than you did back then without any real physical labor. I'll tell you again, I can't hardly, I can't think of anything that we do that involves any hand labor. You know, back then you had to handle silage by hand, hay by hand, move the logs by hand and clean the barn by hand and all that work. Today if it isn't done with a skid steer, it don't get done [laughs]. But I think that's probably, probably the two or three biggest changes and that's happened, and factories and everything else around the country. And machinery has changed considerably, you know, you have tractors with air conditioning in them now and heat in the winter time with cabs on them and what you would with that. We don't grow our own chickens anymore, unless you have, my grandson has a few but back then people used to live on egg money they went to the grocers and bought groceries with their egg money. Took the eggs in and swapped them for food back, they did that back then too every day. We don't have hogs anymore on the farm, we're just like the city guys. Buy all our food that we produce in the grocery store too. Of course grocery stores change too over time. You don't have the local stores, you have big behemoths stores and everything under the sun. But, I think probably the biggest change has been the amount of the production per person per labor has gone up significantly in that amount of time. And there's fewer and fewer farmers today too, so, and the demand is still there for the food so it’s got to be produced somehow. If there's a way to do it and make some money out of it, the farmer will figure it out. That’s pretty much it as things have changed. I don't know if you got a handle on that or not but.

You still grow your own hay in the fields?

Yeah, we use today a round baler that makes round bales, then we pick them up with a machine, to pick them up and we put them in what you call a, another machine that wraps them in plastic so that you don't have to put them in silos anymore. And then he takes it out of that plastic wrap and puts it in a, a machine that grinds it up and you mix all the hay and the corn silage and the grain and there's a protein and the energy and whatever minerals you want into this mixer and it mixes it. It's like smorgasbord I call it. But you put it in this mixer and mix it all up and feed all the cows, and the cows, we have a nutritionist, and we check our nutrition. The cattle actually get fed better than a lot of people do because you’re after that production out of the most efficient way. So you balance the corn and the silage and the grains to put in and then I think he's got it set at ninety pounds a cow of milk. And then every time a cow grabs that to eat she gets the full amount of, she gets the feed she needs to produce that amount of milk. And back years ago each cow got fed individually. And each cow maybe get two pounds of grain and the next one would get fifteen pounds, it depends on how much milk she was giving. And now they're all fed the same. Actually they adjust themselves to it. So if you feed for eighty-pound ration a cow will give a hundred and forty pounds maybe and then you have cows that maybe give sixty pounds. I've had cows give as high as one hundred and eighty pounds of milk a day, that's a lot. You know, but that's another big change that's happened over time, is mixing and feeding the cattle. It's kind of almost like a chicken barn [laughs]. Yeah.

Where do you see the business of farming, whether it’s dairy farming or other forms of agriculture, going in the future?

Well, less than five percent of the people in the country produce food for this country and that's unprecedented in the history of our country. And, I'm for trading with the world. I'm for fair trade and not free trade whether it's agriculture or anything. The only thing that we really have to trade in this country is food. It's corn, soybeans and wheat and milo and all that stuff on the world market. The rest of the things are hardware things, I call, like Microsoft, they can go get it produced in another country cheaper than we can. And in order for us to compete we have to keep, farmers have to keep either growing bigger to put the same amount of dollars or more acres. How do I want to say that, same amount of dollars per acre over more acres in order to make a living and pay the bills. Farming is getting so expensive today that it's almost impossible unless you marry it, inherit it, or win the lottery to get into it. Because it's so expensive today and the competition is not from other farmers, it's from outside investments that's come in and bought the land. Whether it's somebody that's bought fifty acres just to have fifty acres who lives in the village, and there it sits. Or, what do I want to say. Out west they’re getting corporations or company coming in and buying the land up. I think it's getting to the point where eventually the largest amount of production in food is going to be done, owned and operated by big corporations because farms are getting so big now that to move it to the next generation, as I say you got to inherit it, marry it, or win the lottery or you can't afford to get into it. And to me that's not good, that's not a farmer. A farmer has to do, it's in his blood and he has to do the, has to be his own.

There's too many things that I think that can go wrong that would affect. I don't like it, but I'm still old school I guess. I like the individualism and in anything, I like small businesses, I know small business has been very successful. But it's the person, it's in his blood and in his system. I've seen a lot of them fail, yup, I can name you small businesses around here that are doing well. But they're family owned and family operated and they put in a lot of hours. It's not a nine to five job. Sometimes it's a six to ten job or it depends on the time of year and what you’re doing.

The country is getting so involved with imports and exports and these people that are doing the exports and making so much money that if they can import something from China, cheaper than they can make it here, whether it’s food or whatever it is, they're going to import it. Yup, just because it’s cheaper. Yeah, I grew up after, that's why I say I grew up in a good time. I saw what happened in Europe when they got to the point where they couldn't produce their own food. I didn't see it but I was living at that time. And you hear talk and things that happened. And Europe protected their farms for years since the World War II, because they didn't have enough food to eat. Now if you have to depend on your food coming from outside of this country, it's not a good thing. And if you go back in history and read that countries that ended up failing, have done away with their natural resources and their food part. There's a book I read that's, oh four, five years ago about that. And they went through and it's all about way back in the beginning of time and a lot of these places was in the Pacific, that they used up their natural resources, that they had, timber and all that stuff to do it. And when they were gone, when you eliminate that that affects a lot of other things. Fish production or food production; it's kind of like a snowball effect. And it got to the point where they didn't have very good diets so they kind of just exterminated themselves. I don't know if that will happen to this country as far as we're concerned but unless your food is all produced in the country that you live, your country won’t last very long. Because then you’re susceptible whatever the person is. One thing, if you buy shrimp now you got to be careful you want to check where it's made, a lot of the shrimp comes from China. If you go to Price Chopper, you go to Price Chopper there, if you go in their fish thing and look at where their, their shrimp and just look on the label it tells where it comes from and a lot of it comes from China. Now would you buy something that's grown in Chinese ponds or something and they recommend you are actually not to eat it on account of the bacteria that's been growing. But they still sell it here and it's still coming in. But my point is this is how you’re susceptible to whatever they happen to grow. And if you think they're your buddy, forget it. They're not your buddy. You know, they're over there to make money and surviving. If they got a demand for that shrimp, if they happen to have a lot of bacteria they got to get it out to the United States because "Well we check it and all of that." They don't check it when it comes in. It's impossible, you got so much stuff coming in here and it's impossible to do it. I just don't like. You can go any place in this country and find something to eat. Every little dog patch town to big city and variety that you have.

I do a lot of my grocery shopping down in Cobleskill down there and they got all kinds of food places down there. They have more than Cooperstown, Cooperstown is kind of a close knit place over there so they don't, and it's a tough business to be in. I just don't like the way agriculture is going. My son, [laughs], he buys a piece of machine and it's. And times change and things change but the first year I farmed, a piece of machinery cost more than [unclear] income [laughs] it was in the first year we farmed it and my brother and I went in partnership. And that's how things have changed but. Too many people are too far away from where food production comes from. And they don't teach it in school anymore and they've done away with homemaking in school. You’re not supposed to say homemaking because that's, you get your throat cut by. What do they call it now? They got another name for it. We used to do that when I went to Cornell, and oh you’re in the homemaking school, ahh [laughs]. But they don't teach you anything about food production. They don't teach you anything about home living or doing the budget. Did they ever teach you anything about buying a car or how much it's going to cost you? Or anything, everyday living type things. They think the only way you learn is by experience and a lot of times it's too late but. They've taken two things out of school, one is homemaking and shop. And girls took shop too. They got to change a lightbulb but [laughs] they show them how to do it. But you know what I mean, things around the home or things you do that you could do yourself, but they don't, they're all worried about science and technology and that's not all bad either. That's good too. Well we have not got time to teach it, well then let’s add a half hour to the day, what would a half hour do to a school day, if you wanted to take shop or something like that. You wouldn't even know it. Parents would be happy because you would be another half hour in school [laughs] that they wouldn't have to put up with you. But you know what I am talking about, yeah. So, everything's changed and that's the way things happen is the world evolves. It changes.

I have one more question, before we conclude, how have you been able to keep your farm sustainable over the long term?

Well, it's like running any business. You have to be financially astute and not over buy or... you could over produce. A lot of times you could move the product but you kind of roll with the market. And each year you do something a little different. It's like running just any business. It's just a business, that's what it is. I don't know if you compare it to a teacher or not, but a teacher has to do any group of kids that come through each year, a group of kids is a little different. I got two girls who are school teachers so I get it, each group that comes through is a little different so we have to adjust to what that particular group is now. My son and daughter, I had two girls and a boy. My son's class, is one year ahead of my youngest daughter, wonderful class and oh the teacher loved them. They were good kids, smart kids and all of that. Then comes along my daughter's class and they were very competitive, a lot of smart kids in the class and they done well, very competitive. And they, they down in this little school up here they did just, They did just, I’m not bragging up on my kids but I’m just telling you what they were, but they were two different groups of kids so if you're a teacher you've got to adjust right. So it's just like being sustainable so you have to adjust to what weather, has a big effect on what... agriculture. And you have a dry year and you have a wet year, you know and if you have a wet year, well you had that spot in the field that was wet or never dried out, you'd drain it. You put in drain tile and you drain it out. And the next year it's dry so you didn't need it but eventually you do need it. If you, a dry year, one year we had to pump water from the creek up fill our pond for the winter, for the water. It's just things that you do to try and be sustainable for the next... to keep going. And that's like a woman who runs a house. She is very sustainable, the house keeps going. She just, and she has a good husband that helps a lot too so, whichever but I think that is a big thing adjusting to the times and doing things that helps you so you can adjust and keep moving. Yup.

Alright, well thank you very much.

You're over with already.

I think that's about an hour.

I've got seventy years and I got it over in an hour, come on there.

Thank you very much

I hope it helped out


30:00- Track 1
23:55-Track 2

Bit Rate/Frequency


Time Summary

00:25-Growing up in Cherry Valley Track 1
14:25- Education Track 1



Peter Glogovsky, “Dean Utter, November 14, 2015,” CGP Community Stories, accessed June 20, 2019,