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Oklahoma Dairy Farms Holding on with Help from Community

Posted at 4:42 PM, Apr 16, 2020

WYANDOTTE, Okla. — Lomah Dairy in Wyandotte gets their orders on Friday and Monday, and ships out their milk, butter, and cheese on Saturday on Tuesday. But on one Monday in March, the farm lost 90% of its business, as restaurants and shops rapidly closed their doors.

It took two hours on March 16 for Will Johnson and his mom Donna to see most of their business disappear indefinitely. 200 gallons of milk sat ready to go out the next day, about to go unused.

“I can’t even describe the feeling, like the floor fell out from under us," Donna said. "It was incredibly scary.”

In states around the country, that same situation has forced farmers to dump out their milk. However, in Oklahoma many dairy farmers process their own milk at home, so Donna was able to turn that unused milk into cheese, and stock their own store.

The store has had to change a bit, being one small room with a refrigerator. Customers come in and pick up their milk and cheese, write down on a sheet of paper what they buy, and leave the money behind. The honor system is helping keep the dairy running, and the family paying their bills.

“These customers, they have increased their purchases, they are keeping us in business," Donna said about the loyal neighbors coming through their door. "For these customers I am eternally grateful.”

A few shops were also able to stay open, offering drive-through and pickup service. They helped the family get through three weeks of uncertainty, breaking even while operating as efficiently as possible.

That includes the Johnsons drying off half the herd and monitoring their usage of everything, all the way down to the soap they use to clean the stalls.

“80-plus cows, all the way up to 90 is generally where we’re at, and now we’re down to 35 to 40 cows milking,” Will said.

Donna says the family is taking the farm week-by-week - not looking too far down the road. Through it all, they trust their neighbors and customers to help keep them open through the uncertainty.

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