When Frank Wolf took over Scot-Tex Dairy in Scotland, Texas, he didn’t have much of a choice.
“When I graduated high school, I told my dad I kind of would like to get into the banking business,” he says. “He said ‘no, you need to stay on the farm.’ I never really decided against it, but I’ve enjoyed it ever since.”
His father, Robert, had already had two heart attacks and needed Frank’s help to keep the dairy going.
“I was surprised when he asked me to take over,” Frank says. “I look back, and there I was, 18 years old. He wanted me to run the farm. I guess he had trust in me and faith in me. He was a hard worker, and we still try and keep things simple and do a good job.”
Frank and his wife, Joyce, officially bought the operation in 1990, and today they milk about 130 cows, have a beef herd of about 100 cows and farm 500 acres of wheat.
After raising four children on the dairy — sons Adam, Ben and Matthew, and daughter Abby — Frank took the opposite approach of his father when some of them wanted to stay on the dairy.
“There is so much out in the open world,” Frank says. “I said, ‘go work at least one year somewhere. If you don’t like it, you can come back to the farm and we will do something different to make things work.’”
After earning a degree in dairy science and working for COBA/Select Sires after school, the Wolfs’ oldest son, Adam, did indeed want to milk cows again. However, after working with large dairies, he wanted a similar-sized operation. Today, he operates a 400-cow dairy 15 miles from Scot-Tex Dairy. Ben owns some of the beef herd with Frank and works full time as a Texas State Trooper. Matthew works for DFA Risk Management and Abby is currently a student at Texas A&M, working toward an animal science degree.
It was important that his children get an education, even if they end up back on the family farm, Frank says.
“There is so much in the dairy business now that isn’t so much the physical labor, it’s more forward contracting and promoting your industry,” he says. “They have to have a business approach to it if they want to come back to the dairy.”
Frank currently utilizes forward contracting services through DFA Risk Management, and says he’s seen the benefit of a long-term approach.
“I started contracting some of my milk through DFA Risk Management. They have been very helpful, and I look at it more as insurance to protect myself from really low prices,” he says.
If any of his children decide to come back to the dairy for good, the family would need to build a new milking barn, according to Frank. The current four-stall stanchion barn limits the current size of the herd, but also offers advantages to larger parlors.
“I’ve always been happy to be able to do most of the work myself with help from the kids and some hired labor.” Frank says. “I just enjoy working with the cows. With the stanchion barn, you are right there next to the cows. I think I can catch quicker if any little thing is wrong.”
Keeping his cows healthy and comfortable is important, he says. Frank began showing registered Holsteins when he was young, a tradition he continued with his kids. Today, his milking herd is still all registered.
“We really enjoyed showing, and to be able to show in large shows, the cattle had to be registered,” he says. “It gave me an opportunity to maybe do a better job at the paperwork and keeping my records.”