Many people know Keith Schrader as the owner of Schrader Farms Meat Market, but they may not be as familiar with the story of how Schrader Farms began.
I sat down with three generations of Schrader farmers, Gramps, Keith, and Danny, to find out a little bit more about the history of Schrader Farms.
Michelle: How did you get started farming?
Keith: It’s genetic, I guess. Mom and Dad (Gram and Gramps Schrader) owned a dairy farm in Livingston, New York when we were kids. They say mom took me out to the barn to wash milkers the day I came home from the hospital.
Gramps: Yeah, Gram liked to wash milkers and we liked to have her do it. She was good at it.
M: Why are you passionate about farming?
Danny: I like the lifestyle. Everyday has a new challenge. We work really hard together as a family and then have seasons of rest where we get to see the reward. Agriculture and nature are so complex, but at the end of the day it’s really just about feeding people and families.
M: When did you start raising beef cows?
K: We’ve always had beef cows. It became more of a necessity after we had kids because we wanted to feed them good, quality meat.
D: We started our beef herd with two cows named Salt and Pepper. We would ride our three wheeler across the field that separated our house from the barn to feed them.
M: Speaking of the kids, what is your favorite memory of raising them on the farm?
K: Probably spending summers on the farm doing hay and straw when the kids and cousins were off of school.
D: The cousins would stay at our house most of the summer. We all worked really hard on the farm, and Dad (Keith) would buy us soda and ice cream for a midday snack and then take us swimming when we were done working.
The cousins often share stories about their adventures on the farm. One of their favorite stories was when Kara and Erica were picking up forgotten bales of hay in a field. As Erica picked up a bale of hay, a snake slithered across her hand. Erica dove head first through the window and into the cab of the truck. It’s one of those things that you only achieve in a moment of absolute panic.
M: Why did you start the meat shop?
K: We started selling meat to our customers out of the garage. Meat sales started to pick up, and we couldn’t find a place to get our beef cut under USDA inspection. If we wanted to keep giving customers good meat it was our only choice.
M: What do you offer customers that the grocery store does not?
K: Customers get the experience of purchasing meat from a Finger Lakes farm. All of our beef is raised right here in the Finger Lakes, and the smoked products are all made right in our facility.
D: A customer can walk into Schrader Farms and order exactly what they want. You can’t always get that at the grocery store.
M: What are your hopes for the future of Schrader Farms?
D: I hope to continue growing our cow-calf herd so that more customers have the opportunity to purchase high quality meat. And I want to raise our kids on the farm just like dad and we were raised on it. There is something so humble about raising your kids to work hard and getting to work with them.