“I’ve been in the dairy business all of life, I was raised on a dairy farm,” Johnny Hanna of Locust Grove said. “I’ve been making my living at it since 1978. When we started we had another barn over on the highway. We built the present barn in 1995. I remember Dad putting the milk in 10-gallon cans and I remember Grandpa putting the cans in Snake Creek to keep the milk cold and the milk hauler stopping and picking them up out of the creek.”

Things have improved a little since then. The present operation includes an 11-station milking parlor with pipeline milkers and a bulk tank. Everything is modern and there’s no need to haul the milk to the creek. The barn sits on a rise above the house in the hills of Eastern Oklahoma and the location helps provide a relatively dry lot even with the excessive amount of rain the area has received this winter and spring. Also on the high ground is located a calf hut village where the replacement heifers for the herd are raised.

“I have about 100 in the milk sting now and my daughter and son-in-law are also milking out of the same facility. They are the fourth generation to milk cows on this place and I hope the fifth will do the same,” Hanna said.

The daughter, Crystal, with her husband, Richard Pritchett have a daughter, Jaydean, four, who is already very interested in the baby calves and anything else that goes on on the farm.

The Hannas have another daughter, Valerie, who with her husband, Cody, help with the milking even though both have jobs off the farm. She teaches fourth grade and he works for GRDA.

“Both of the girls were in FFA and showed a lot,” Hanna said. “The grandkids are getting almost big enough to start so I guess we’ll be back showing in a few years.”

Photo and plaques attest to the success of the last generation of contestants.

The Hannas raise most of their heifers and use about 20 each year as replacements for cows culled. The bulls are primarily sold as babies, but they do raise a few to sell as bulls and both are sold directly from the farm. About half of the cows are registered Holsteins, but they have three Milking Shorthorns that are leftovers from show projects of some of the kids, nephews that showed them in the past They also feed out a few and sell as butcher animals.

In addition to their regular cows, they have one cow that has a 91 point score and a production record of over 30,000 pounds a year.

“We flush her and do embryo transplants with her,” Hanna said. “It’s real easy to sell a bull out of her.”

They usually sell their surplus heifers to someone else in the business, but three years ago they became part of a family project.

“We let our daughter (Crystal) take the first calf heifers when they were getting started three years ago.”

The impact of kids has always been felt on the farm. In addition to the various nieces, nephews and grandkids that move in and out of the operation, the Hannas make it a point to hire high school kids to help with the milking.

“We’ve had some good kids milk for us and I hope we’ve helped them. It gives them some money, teaches them how to work and to show up for work every day on time. We’ve had both boys and girls working for us and right now we have a girl,” Hanna said.

The farm not only produces the replacement calves, but is also the source of much of the feed that sustains the herd. In addition to raising their own Bermuda grass hay they plant some wheat to use as bailed silage.

“We feed a commercially mixed feed in the barn, but some years we buy some alfalfa if we’re a little short on hay. The second year of that two-year drought that started three years ago was the hardest time I remember. I got a little worried about running out of feed. Hay was hard to find. This year, with all the rain there’s no shortage of grass, but with the cost of fuel and feed I don’t know just what will happen.”

Between the Hannas and their daughter and son-in-law, they own about 300 acres and have approximately the same amount under lease.

The farm has ponds and a spring creek in one of the leased pastures, but also depends on a rural water district.

As if running a dairy isn’t enough to keep them busy they are active in the First Baptist Church of Salina, Okla., where Hanna is Sunday School superintendent.

Like almost everybody in agriculture at the present, the Hannas are waiting to see how the current production costs are going to affect their operation. In the meantime they continue to look forward to the fifth generation putting on its rubber boots and heading for the milk barn.

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