Dairy service unit unites farmers

| March 23, 2017

COSHOCTON – Maureen Pritchard has spent her whole life dairy farming and so have many others who belong to the Coshocton County Dairy Service Unit.

“My family has always milked cows,” she said. “I started when I was five and got to be pretty good at it.”

Pritchard is secretary/treasurer of the dairy service unit, Bill Daugherty is vice president and Kevin Lowe is the president.

“I’d say the dairy service unit has been around for 50 to 60 years and we probably have 10-12 on our board,” Pritchard said.

Daugherty has been involved with the group for 25 to 30 years.

“It’s good local promotion for dairy farmers,” he said. “Even though we are getting fewer and fewer it still puts a good image out there for our local industry.”

Lowe, who has been involved for about 30 years, agreed with Daugherty.

“Promoting our product is our main goal now,” Lowe said. “It’s also a nice way to meet other dairy farmers in the county and see that we are all going through the same things with low prices, crops and weather. You realize you aren’t in it alone.”

The dairy service unit also likes to support 4-H youth, raises money by selling ice cream at the Coshocton County Fair, donates to the Coshocton County Fairboard/Agriculture Society for trophies or sponsorships, made a donation to the grandstand renovation and is looking into donating to help fix up a wash wrack for the dairy barn at the fairgrounds.

“I enjoy dipping ice cream at the fair and getting to see different people during the week,” Lowe said.

According to Pritchard, fair week is a pretty special time for the dairy service unit.

“After show day at the fair we like to have something to eat as a group,” she said. “The first year I did this myself, but we ran out of food. Tuesday after open dairy show everyone brings in a covered dish. We set up tables in the show ring and enjoy a big lunch with free ice cream and milk from the dairy services. I usually make about 28 loafs of homemade bread and we eat right there in the barn. Fairboard members usually come too because they know we have good food.”

During the fair they also give youngsters a chance to experience the show ring.

“You can come in and ask someone to borrow a calf for your child to walk in the show ring,” Pritchard said. “You have to sign a paper with the child’s name, the calf’s and the child’s favorite ice cream. We then give them little bag with a ribbon and dairy promotional items.”

Another project of the dairy service unit is its annual dairy banquet.

“There usually are around 125-130 who show up and the Fresno United Methodist Church Women cook the meal for us,” Pritchard said. “We award all the kids that had a dairy project and sometimes honor the oldest dairy farmers that are left. It’s really a family night for the dairy farmers.”

Daugherty said he looks forward to the banquet.

“It’s changed over the years,” he said. “We used to do different types of entertainment but the door prizes seem to be the big fun now since we get so many of them. It also gives those who don’t milk anymore the chance to get together with those who do and share stories and memories.”

Pritchard said they also try to relate the banquet to a topic.

“One year we tried to get all the dairy princesses from way back,” Pritchard said. “I only got back to 1963, but some of them did come. I had to learn a lot of these people because most of the dairy farmers were from up around the Ridgewood area when I was growing up and we were in Wills Creek. We weren’t as modern as the other ones. We started milking by hand and then finally got a milking machine. Now my nephew has a robot that can milk 24 hours a day.”

This year’s dairy service unit banquet will be held at 7 p.m. Friday, April 7, at the Coshocton County Career Center. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and $4.50 for children 12 and under. Let any dairy service unit member know that you would like a ticket by Friday, March 31 or RSVP to the OSU Extension Office at 740-622-2265.

“There is no membership fee to be part of the dairy service unit and anyone is welcome to attend our banquet,” Pritchard said.

She got involved in the group about 20 years ago.

“We’ve become like one big family,” Pritchard said. “A lot of the big farmers are gone now though. I try to push the young kids to get involved though and we are hanging in there.”

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Category: People & Places

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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