The story starts in 1919 when our family purchased what would become Carlton Farms. For years, it was a diversified farm - as they all were in that era. A few crops and a few animals worked in symbiosis. Organic was the only option at the time, as GMO's were unheard of, and the USDA wasn't demanding that farmers plant corn, soybeans & wheat from fence-line to fence-line.
In 1946, brothers Louie and Bob Carlton returned home from the Navy where they had served in World War II. The family milk cow was becoming a thing of the past after the war, as many people moved into cities. This caused a bloom in dairies operating across the countryside, inspiring the brothers to start a dairy on the family farm. They would both put in long hours to get their dairy off the ground, starting off with a herd of Brown Swiss cattle. Soon they realized the farm could only support one family. Louie and Bob resolved the issue by coming to an agreement - they would both apply for employment at the newly opened Lockheed Plant in Marietta, and whoever was offered the job first would take it, leaving the other to stay on the farm. As fate would have it, Louie ran a successful dairy for the next 50 years while Bob began a career at Lockheed, eventually retiring from there.
Initially Louie delivered milk locally, until creameries developed and changed his strategy. Creameries provided a place where dairymen could take their milk to sell it wholesale. In our mind, this was the beginning of a slippery slope for American agriculture. Since that time, farmers would begin to become further and further removed from their consumers.
During the time Louie ran the dairy, there were some highs and lows as there would be in any life and business. His wife, Mildred, became ill and eventually succumbed to cancer. Following her passing, portions of the farm were sold to pay remaining medical bills. On a brighter note, their children and grandchildren were blessed with the ability to grow up on the farm. While many decided to pursue other ventures in adulthood, Louie's oldest son, Bobby, spent his life operating the family dairy. Bobby, wife Gayla, and their children; Chad, Brad, and Brooke; are currently involved in the day to day operation of the dairy.
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