June is National Dairy Month and time to thank your local farmers

| June 15, 2014
Janice and George Braniger

Janice and George Braniger

OXFORD TOWNSHIP – June is National Dairy Month and a great way to celebrate it is to say thank you to our local dairy farmers. Without them we wouldn’t have many of the dairy products we enjoy picking up at the grocery story like milk, cheese and yogurt.

According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, there are 73 dairy farms in Coshocton County. Emily Adams, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources County Extension Director for Coshocton County, said these farmers must register with the ODA and follow their rules and regulations to make sure that milk is produced safely. One of the local farms that have been doing this for years is George Braniger’s.

George and his wife Janice were married in 1958 and were full time farmers until 1998. Both of them grew up on farms and George took over his family’s farm after getting out of the service in the early 1950s.

“My mom said I started milking when I was 5-years-old,” Janice said.

Two of the couple’s four children, Mike and George III, now run the farm, but Janice and George help out when they can.

“I still help with odd jobs,” George said.

The Branigers have about 60 cattle, which must be milked twice a day.

“Our days started at 6 a.m., but when they ended depended on the time of year it was,” Janice said. “When it was summer time you had the crops on top of everything else to do. We’d milk, feed the cows, have breakfast, eat supper around 5 p.m. and then go back out and milk. Sometimes you’d also have other things to do after that.”

Most of their cattle are Holsteins, but they also have a few Jerseys.

“Holsteins give a lot of milk,” Janice said.

According to www.midwestdairy.com, there are six main breeds of dairy cattle – Ayrshire, Brown Swiss, Guernsey, Holstein, Jersey and Milking and Shorthorn. A seventh breed, Red and White, is a variation of the Holstein breed. On average, each cow only gives six to seven gallons of milk each day.

The Branigers’ milk goes to Dairy Farmers of America, which George said delivers milk to numerous places including Pearl Valley Cheese.

George and Janice said most of their cows were typically good milkers, but those who weren’t got sent to the butcher.

One of the best parts about living on the farm was raising their family there. In addition to Mike and George III, the couple also has another son named Mark, a daughter, Cathy Williamson, eight grandchildren, and five grandsons.

They also live in a community that pulls together during troubled times.

“On the fifth of November (2013) Mike was out picking corn and it was getting stuck in the husking bin,” Janice said. “He reached in there to clean it out and the palm of his hand got torn up. They weren’t sure if they were going to be able to save his fingers.”

After surgery and numerous physical therapy visits, Mike is doing okay.

“We had neighbors and people we really didn’t even know come help us after he got hurt,” Janice said.

Their milk man Mark Wills finished using the combine and hauled corn to Coshocton Grain. Mike’s classmate John Ridenour got friends and neighbors to help clean out the manure pit. John and his wife Elizabeth also organized a benefit for Mike at the Blue Ridge Grange, where George has belonged for more than 60 years.

They also had people volunteer to help milk the cows.

“Our 14-year-old grandson helped his dad so he knew pretty much what to do and was able to do it at night,” Janice said. “Beth Barrick came in the morning and we had quite a few others help at night. Mike also had old classmates send him money and he got things from people out of state.”

The Branigers also have been active members of their community over the years. George was a 4-H advisor for 43 years, served on the Coshocton County Dairy Board for about 50 years and was on the Coshocton County Soil and Water Conservation Board for 15 years. The couple also belongs to Isleta United Methodist Church.

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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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