Doug Howdyshell

Cobblestone Farm      Bridgewater, VA

“I have farming in my blood, it’s just there, that’s why I’m still where I’m at.  I like the community and the people that I’ve grown up with and all my family is around here.” — Doug Howdyshell, Cobblestone Farm

Doug Howdyshell grew up on a farm and has remained on the farm his entire life. He humbly describes himself as “an ordinary farm guy”, and like many other local farmers, works a job off the farm.

“There’s really not all that much profit in the beef business,” explains Howdyshell. “So I’d say you do it [farming] for the pride. It’s one of the big motivators. It’s job satisfaction. I have a full time job so I spend a good portion of my time working for somebody else. I don’t mean to make my farm sound like a hobby but, I don’t know how to describe it exactly. When we sell beef to somebody and they say ‘Man, that was really good’ and they come back for more, I really like that. It gives you a sense a pride.”

Doug’s grandfather began the farm with a small cattle herd, pigs, chickens, and turkeys. Remembering those days, he says, “Basically, a lot of the food we ate was grown there on the farm. Not all, but a lot. When we ate eggs we went out to the hen house and got them, when I was a kid.  A lot of the stuff came from the garden.”

That began to change as farming models shifted. The family started raising turkeys almost exclusively. Today Howdyshell still raises turkeys, but began raising beef in order to diversify and prevent the farm from becoming too dependent on one industry.

“The cows are more individual. We don’t actually name them but they have little nicknames. You kind of, it might sound kind of dumb but when you don’t have 50 or 60 you become very well acquainted with some of them.”

When asked why it is important for a consumer to choose a local product raised in a smaller volume, Doug is quick to reply.

“If you appreciate open spaces, if you appreciate seeing the farmland, like I do, and not all of it being sold for development, and maintaining some of our heritage and culture, it’s important to help farms be profitable. By buying [from a local farmer] you keep a local, viable farm. You preserve land, actually. The farm that was the original, where I lived along with my Uncle, my Granddad and I think he got it off his Father-in-law, and so on and so forth, it goes back quite a long way. It’s part of the family.  It’s important to help keep small farms economically viable.  Smaller businesses do tend to be more costly [to operate].”

“It still comes back to basic animal husbandry. You’re dealing with living, breathing organisms.” — Doug Howdyshell, Cobblestone Farm