“Community minded, family oriented and always willing to lend a helping hand, hardworking, these attributes describe the Michael Haag family and are the reasons the Ontelaunee Grange supports the Haag’s as this year’s Outstanding Farm Family,” said Karen Mohn as she spoke about this year’s Berks County Outstanding Farm Family at the Reading Fair Awards Banquet on July 23.
Honorees, family, friends and community members gathered at the Berks County Agricultural Center for the awards portion of the Reading Fair.
Michael and Alicia Haag, along with their children Sara, 9, and Cody, 7, were honored as the 59th Berks County Outstanding Farm Family. Ten years prior, Michael’s parents, David and Mary received the honor.
The Haag’s 125-acre dairy farm, Mic-Ali Farms, is located in Centre Twp. and has been farmed by four generations of Haags, though this is the seventh generation to be on the farm. Photos of the four generations working side by side could be seen in a photo album at the banquet.
“According to their farm family entry book,” began Mohn, “the Haag farm is consistently, constantly looking for different ways to improve their farm. Future projects for the Haag’s include building a calf barn and a breeding age heifer barn. They hope to improve herd health and genetics.”
Michael purchased the first herd of Holstein cows in 2002 and the family partnered with other farmers until settling in at the Haag farm in 2010. Today the herd consists of 76 Holstein cows that average 24,730 pounds of milk, 839 pounds of fat and 740 pounds of protein.
As a true farm family, everyone does their part to help around the farm and has their own chores and responsibilities.
“Everyone in the family does chores. The farm is a family effort in every way since they work together daily,” explained Mohn during the introduction of the family. “With four generations working together, there is always room to learn from one another. They make and achieve goals together and learn from their mistakes. They love raising their family on the farm as it allows them to work and play together. Whether it’s doing the barn work, showing at the local fair or just spending the day together it is always a learning experience.”
Both Michael and Alicia are members of the Ontelaunee Grange and Sara and Cody are part of the Ontelaunee Jr. Grange. Michael enjoys spending quality family time at the local fairs and tractor pulls. He has earned numerous trophies in the pulls. Alicia enjoys working in her flowerbeds and even holds an annual plant swap. During the swap, members of the community visit the farm and exchange perennials and enjoy a hayride.
“The discipline, dedication and motivation that are exemplified on a family farm became the foundation of which their children would build the necessary skills to succeed in other experiences and interests outside of farming life,” said Mohn.
Along with helping out on the farm, Sara is a member of the Western Berks 4-H Dairy Club and an avid sports enthusiast playing soccer, basketball and will be trying field hockey this fall. She assists with evening milking and other chores on the farm.
Cody loves farm life and is an early riser who often wakes up at 5 a.m. to pitch in with the morning milking. Along with being very helpful around the farm and mastering the farm chores, he enjoys playing soccer and will be trying flag football this fall.
“This farm family truly reflects an ideal farm family by nurturing the land, volunteering in their community and valuing the strength, commitment and faith found in the family unit. The Reading Fair is honored to name Michael and Alicia Haag and their family as the 2014 Berks County Outstanding Farm Family. Congratulations,” said Mohn.
The family stood at the front of the room to receive their honors to a loud round of applause.
“We’re very thankful for this award,” said Alicia. “We feel very honored to accept this award. Thank you.”
Other honorees at the banquet were the Outstanding 4-H Award which went to Laura Lesher and Jenna Sattazahn; Outstanding FFA Awards which went to Courtney Brumbach of Oley Valley FFA and Kayla Fusselman of Kutztown FFA; Scholarship Award Winners which went to Laura Lesher and Caitlyn Pool; and for the first time in years the Reading Fair Queen pageant with Caitlyn Pool as the 2014 Reading Fair Queen and Lindsay Fessler as the 2014 Reading Fair Queen Alternate.