Ripley, ME

Cooley Farm

“This is such a special honor, and even more special this year,” says Marcia. “My grandparents built this wonderful legacy, and I’m proud that we are able to continue it, and prouder still to be able to pass it along to our children.”

It’s likely you’ll never hear a cuter ‘how-I-met-my-husband’ story than Marcia Dean’s.

She and her husband, Stacy, got together thanks to the matchmaking of their cow breeder. It happened at a local meeting attended by various farm reps. Marcia was there for Cooley Farm, in Ripley, and her future husband attended on behalf of Pipers Farm, in Embden. After the breeding company agent jokingly mentioned that Marcia was single and available, he wrote her phone number on a breeding card and gave it to Stacy. He did the same with Stacy’s number, giving it to Marcia.

The rest,…well, as they say, is history. The couple has been married for 16 years, and working together at Cooley Farm, the recipient of the Green Pasture Award, given every year to one outstanding dairy farm in each of the New England states. Winners are evaluated on production records; herd, pasture, and crop management; environmental practices; contributions to agriculture and the local community; and overall excellence in dairying

Cooley Farm was started in 1968 by Marcia’s grandparents, Rufus and Janice Cooley, who bought 130 acres and spent years clearing the land to establish a dairy farm. They started with a small herd of six cows, supplementing their income with logging from their tree clearing. During the early years, Marcia was a constant presence on the farm.

“I was always there – every weekend, every vacation, every summer.” Her parents lived 5 to 6 miles down the road, and gave their enthusiastic daughter rides back and forth. Marcia learned dairying, loving the time spent with the animals, spent outdoors, and spent doing hard work.

After a brief spell working at Pipers Farm with her husband, Marcia returned in 2003 to take over the operations at Cooley Farm. They oversaw construction of a new heifer barn, a free stall barn and other improvements. While logging is no longer a part of the farm operation, the family fondly remembers those early days when it helped get the farm started.

The current milking herd is 160 to 170 cows, a mix of Holstein, Jersey and Brown Swiss.  The Dean children, Hunter, 16, and Hannah, 13, are responsible for the Jerseys. Says Marcia, “They work harder than any adult I know.” Two employed workers also help the family.

Marcia recently attended the Green Pasture award ceremony, and admitted the event was bittersweet considering her beloved grandfather had passed away only a few days before. Supported by her two children – Stacy stayed behind on the farm – Marcia gave an emotional speech on receiving the Green Pasture honor.

“This is such a special honor, and even more special this year,” says Marcia. “My grandparents built this wonderful legacy, and I’m proud that we are able to continue it, and prouder still to be able to pass it along to our children.”

Photo Courtesy Gary Anderson

Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.