In Dekalb Junction, New York’s St. Lawrence County, John, and Nichole Wright are third-generation dairy farmers. Despite enjoying their profession raising calves, the couple needed to supplement their income with side jobs to help pay the bills.
John works as a salesperson for a Texas-based corporation. Nichole works as the bakery manager at the Price Chopper in Gouverneur. “I would totally rather be doing the farm thing and the cow thing all the time, but it’s not going to pay for me to do” Nichole said when she finished her work to drive home.
“Madison is 15, Bailey is 13, and Peyton is 9,” Nichole smiled when asked about her three daughters, who have reddish-brown hair, bright cheeks, and broad smiles in common. The girls, like their parents, were very busy with school, farm labor, clubs, sports, and homework. Cleaning gutters, getting water, loading hay, and other chores were among their tasks around the barn.
“Granted, there’s days that we scratch our head wondering why we do this, but we wouldn’t want to live our lives any other way. I wouldn’t want to raise my three daughters any other way,” John replied when questioned if the farming routine grew boring.
Like other families in the North Country, the Wrights have devised their own strategies for putting it all together and getting more done with less.
“We raise our own beef. We raise our own pork. We don’t buy any meat from stores,” John shared. “That is one luxury for us, because it saves us a pile of money and we really enjoy doing that.”
While John was browsing through the contents of a photo album exhibiting images of his family at cattle events, Nichole said that coming to these shows with her family and presenting their cows was her joyful time of year.
Having competed in cattle exhibitions in many places, the Wrights have traveled as far as Kentucky and Wisconsin. “We always have to have someone here to help us, and his parents have been a god-send,” Nichole said. The three girls’ grandparents who live in Florida return to DeKalb to help with the farm. Nichole said, “Thank God they’ve helped us with that,” adding that she “wouldn’t want to do it without the kids.”
“I couldn’t imagine living life any other way. I couldn’t imagine having a wooden or a metal fence between my neighbors’ grass and my grass, you know? So sometimes we do have to take a step back and realize, you know, we have it pretty good,” John responded when questioned why they chose to build a life in the same town where they grew up.
Bailey, the second daughter, participated in the 2016 Summer Yearling Guernsey show with her calf, Gold Top Ice Lutton. Junior Champion at the All-American Dairy Show, Junior Champion at the New York State Fair, and Junior Champion in the Junior Show at the New York Spring Dairy Carousel were among Bailey’s show victories with Lutton. In both the Open and Junior divisions, she was nominated Honorable Mention All-American Summer Yearling.