After farming near Rising Sun for six decades, the Haines Farm (also known as Albeck Farms) has changed direction.
Aaron Haines, 47, is now running the farm with a lot of help from family members.
The farm itself has also changed. Rather than staying on the home farm, the family now rents land as far away as Conowingo and Perryville for crop farming. He planted more than 200 acres of corn, 200 acres of soybeans, hay, and 30 acres of alfalfa this year. He's preparing to do fall planting now. Those crops will be harvested next spring.
After years of milking, 14 months ago, the family sold the dairy cows. But that doesn't mean they gave up on the herd. They now board cows for another farmer. There's no milking involved - they board 120-130 dry cows and heifers.
"We take care of them. We just don't milk. A lot has changed without milking. It was time to either go bigger or get out of milking," said Haines. "It changed everything. We still have animals to take care of, we just don't do it at 4 a.m."
There's still a great deal of work tending the boarded herd. Each cow or heifer needs proper bedding and pens have to be cleaned. They have to be fed and each gets some form of attention twice a day.
"We don't have to milk every 12 hours," said Haines. Milk prices for farmers have plummeted. Some farmers have begun dumping milk rather than sell so low. "The prices were good when we sold. Good compared to what they are today."
"I don't miss the dairy (business). I miss that they were our cows. They weren't really pets but they were part of the family because we had done it so long," Haines said.
"My father (Bill Haines who died in 2009) used to always say, 'you don't farm to get rich. You farm because you enjoy it'," he said. Haines doesn't plan to give up farming anytime soon. He also realizes that agriculture in Cecil County has been renewed with Amish farmers moving to the area.
Locally, more Amish are coming to Cecil County and buying land to farm. "We have good friends that are Amish. They've bought silage and hay," he said.