Jeff Sykes is my neighbor, friend, and 3rd generation dairy farmer here in northern Orange County. He works 380 farm acres, grazes 250 cows, and milks 110 cows twice a day with a very small crew, including his 22 year old son Jonah who studied extention education and animal science at NC State to ensure Sykes Dairy becomes a 4th generation family farm. We're lucky that our front yard is one of the fields Jeff uses to grow crops because it tunes us in to the seasons, weather and time in ways we would miss without witnessing Jeff's spectacular labor year in and year out. In June, Jeff was baling hay out front and the tractor and baler caught fire. When I first saw the ball of fire, I didn't see Jeff. But, friends, it was a good day in the end. Tractors and balers can be replaced.
The truth is, this 30-year old equipment is only insured for it's present value (before the fire, of course), which makes replacing it an almost unbearable challenge for a small farmer. Raising enough money here to buy new equipment is a big dream, but I believe raising any amount is an investment in keeping Jeff's farmer spirit strong. The smoke and sirens are gone (thank you Orange Grove Volunteer Fire Fighters!), but I'm reminded daily from the scorched ground I see from my porch that Sykes Dairy continues to live with this challenge. Here's a beautiful sunrise photo that Jeff's son Jonah gave me. I hope it inspires you to share what you can, including this campaign link with your social networks, to keep Sykes Dairy going strong into tomorrow.
Thank you friends, family, and all!
Organizer and beneficiary