One Of The Last Milkmen Keeps Delivering

In a simpler time, milk would arrive at your doorstep each morning. But in upstate New York, there is a farmer who still makes deliveries the old-fashioned way.

Bob Van Wie, 70, loves his job so much he hasn't taken a vacation in 20 years.

"If you'd talk to my wife, she'd say, 'You're more devoted to the farm than — than anything else, but she is too,' " he told Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

Van Wie is a third generation milk farmer. His grandfather opened Meadowbrook Farm in the 1920s.

"My father actually started the first milk route, back in the early 40s, and we've been bottling our own milk ever since," he said.

There is a lot of work that goes into Van Wie's farm. There are more than 100 cows that need to be milked and cared for, which requires the help of the entire family, down to the youngest workers. Van Wie said he runs the farm with his brother, Charles, his son, Paul, and Paul's six children.

"My chores are feeding the calves with my sister," said Van Wie's granddaughter, Holly.

"In the morning and afternoon I milk cows," said Paul Jr., Van Wie's grandson. "And then I'm responsible for putting the water in the buckets."

Cows are milked at 3 a.m. and again at 3 in the afternoon. Then the milk is pasteurized, bottled and cooled in a refrigerator. Every morning, before sunrise it's loaded onto a truck and dispatched to hundreds of waiting customers.

"I come down and my son has got my truck loaded with all the milk I need," Van Wie said.

A half gallon of Meadowbrook farm milk runs just under three dollars — more than other brands in the supermarket, but customers say it's worth every penny.

"It tastes good. It's like creamier. It's not like water," customer Kay Mandinino said. "I tried a lot of dairies — nothing like his. I wouldn't change him for nothing."

"It's worth it to have whole milk by a local farmer that doesn't use growth hormones," customer Charles Winslow said. "So we're concerned about what we eat and Bob's milk's organic."

Van Wie's son, Paul, said the reason Meadowbrook's milk tastes so unique is because they mix the milk from brown cows with Holstein milk.

"That's what makes it better," he said. "Ninety percent of it is the — the mingling of the brown Swiss milk and the Holstein milk."

After 50 years of farming and delivering milk, Van Wie is showing no signs of slowing down.

"You don't retire. When you retire, you lay down and that's the end of you," he said.

Eventually a time will come when it's Van Wie's turn to hand over the farm like his father and his father's father before him, which is why future generations are so important.

"If the family stays together and works together, they'll be together," Van Wie said. "That's why we hope that Paul's children keep going and make it a family operation."
  • Caitlin Johnson

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