Mike and Jan Heckaman of Argos stay plenty busy with operation, a 600 dairy cow farm that milks 21 hours a day. After being named the Indiana Dairy Producer of the Year, Mike tells HAT he’s been blessed to run his business with family.
“Luckily I was fortunate to become a part of the dairy operation with my parents, my mom and my dad. When we got married 41 years ago, I kind of transplanted a young lady from a small town and she’s been part of it and supportive the whole time.”
After years of chores and cold weather, Jan is pleased to roll up her sleeves in a different way for the farm.
“I used be to the chore girl that fed calves and milked if I needed to or whatever else was required. But I said I’ve got a promotion. Now I do the books and I have an indoor job that is warm and dry all the time and I really appreciate that.”
When asked about his defining moment as a dairy producer, Mike tells HAT it was knowing the farm would continue with his family.
“Once another generation came in we needed to up the income and get larger. Now we have a daughter and son-in-law in the operation with us and they have four children. Three of their four children now are in dairy judging, they’re out in the barns, and they’re helping be a part of it and learning what goes on on a dairy farm on a daily basis.”
Jan used the phrase “lead, follow, or get the heck out.” She says that’s what the dairy industry is all about. Mike’s had his chances to lead through several positions in dairy organizations like IDP and North Star out of Lansing, Michigan. He says learning about the industry across the U.S. has been a positive experience.
“I get to rub elbows with dairymen from California to New York to Virginia. We all do chores real similar, but the situations are a lot different. The markets are a lot different, too.”
The Heckaman’s advice to young dairy farmers? Focus on your attitude and your family. Mike said having a positive attitude with your employees despite the many challenges of the dairy industry will always solve problems much faster on the farm.