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'Long'-term farmers

Family celebrates 175 years in business

Family celebrates 175 years in business

July 11, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - In 1831, Isaac Long Jr. bought a swath of land from William Schley, more than 500 acres from what was known as Conococheague Manor.

That, according to Long family research, was the genesis of Long DeLite Farm, south of Williamsport, which was carved out of Isaac's purchase.

In the dairy farm's father-to-son tradition, a seventh generation is working the land and milking the cows. Brooks Long, 23, and his wife, Katie, have a 4 1/2-month-old son, Kaleb - the family's hope, so far, that the farm will be kept alive and running by a Long.

Saturday, to celebrate 175 years, Long DeLite Farm is hosting a large lunch for invited guests, including political dignitaries, followed by an open house for whomever wants to take a tour and pet the animals.

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Brooks works with his father, Galen, 54, and his grandfather, Lawrence, who will turn 83 Saturday.

They have about 60 milking cows and 50 to 60 heifers, who won't be milked until they have their first calves, at about 2 years old.

The Longs also grow corn, barley and hay.

"You've got to want to farm," said Lawrence Long, who the family knows as Pap-pa, the clan's Mr. Fix-it. "You've got to like it, be happy with your job. You can get up out of bed and go right out and do it. You don't have to travel.

"People that hate to go to work - I say, 'How can you do that?'"

On a break from chores Monday afternoon, family members joked that Lawrence's wife, Hazel, often had the final say on farm decisions.

But Hazel - known as Mam-ma, the breakfast fixer - claims she didn't.

She'd say no to a purchase, such as a tractor or pygmy goats, then end up getting it as a birthday present.

Galen's wife, Cindy, 52, said she was a country girl, but not a farm girl, until she joined the family. She worked her way into farm life slowly, always eager to put a Sunday aside for family time.

Cindy Long has her own shop - Cindy's Sweets and Supplies - on Governor Lane Boulevard, not far from the farm.

In past generations, women stayed on the farm to work, Brooks said, but his mother and his wife have bucked that. He said a farm is no longer profitable enough to support an entire family; outside income is vital.

Regardless, Brooks said he wanted to marry a farm-blooded woman - and found one in Katie, whose family, the Herbsts, runs Misty Meadow Farm in Smithsburg.

The work day at Long DeLite Farm starts with the 6 a.m. milking, followed by clean-up and breakfast.

The second and final milking usually is around 4:30 p.m.. Then, there's more cleaning up to do.

In between, there are fences to build, hay to make and corn to plant.

"That pretty much shoots your day," Galen Long said.

The milk from Long DeLite Farm is sold to a Maryland and Virginia cooperative. It's sent to a bottling plant in Landover, Md., and a processing plant in Laurel, Md.

Even with that certainty, farming is a get-by-as-you-go life, Cindy Long said. It's difficult to do otherwise as expenses rise and milk prices stay flat.

"We can't live off a budget," she said. "We pay all the farm bills, and whatever's left, we live off."

But, she said, she's happy with that. She considers a farm a good place to raise children and instill the value of hard work and discipline.

"Tradition," she said, is why the family doesn't alter its course.

"It's in your blood," Galen Long said.

"Refusal to quit," Brooks Long said.

"In all my years, I never saw anything I'd rather do ...," Lawrence Long said. "I still want to continue to farm."

Maybe Kaleb Long will be the next Long DeLite son, an eighth generation.

So far, "he wears a lot of farm clothes," Brooks Long said, "but he doesn't have much say."




If You Go


What: Open house for the 175th anniversary of Long DeLite Farm

When: Saturday, 2 to 5 p.m.

Where: From Hagerstown, take Virginia Avenue (U.S. 11) south toward Williamsport. Turn left on Governor Lane Boulevard, which will cross Md. 68 and become Spielman Road (Md. 63). After about a mile, look for a sign for the farm on the left.

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