By Matthew J. Van Wagenen
James Dougherty wears significantly more hats than most other 20 year old college males.
James is a full time student at Franciscan University and is currently enrolled in 19 credit hours of study. He is in his junior year majoring in biology as well as participating in the rigorous Honors Program at FUS. This, however, is not his only major responsibility-James is the son of a farming family and holds significant responsibility with the goings on of the farm, located on the outskirts of Toronto, Ohio, some 20 minutes from Steubenville.
“Every day I’m up at 6:30 a.m. to help with milking the cows,” said Dougherty. “Every time the cows are milked, we need to skim the cream, put the milk in for either cheese making or to be jarred for sale, and wash the equipment to get it ready for the next milking.”
James is the third of eight children to Professor Shawn Dougherty, Professor of Drama at FUS, and his wife Beth. As the eldest son still living at home, he has significant responsibilities with helping to run the major functions of their farm, especially with livestock care, breeding and overall farm maintenance and upkeep.
He and his family hand milk the cows which are producing milk, which can be anywhere from two to nine of their 12 heifers. James personally hand milks Sunday and Tuesday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings. Other mornings he partakes in the additional responsibilities of milking and takes on extra shifts when his family needs the help. The Dougherty family also currently owns seven steers which will be slaughtered and sold as beef.
Additionally, the Dougherty family breeds their own cattle; James is directly involved with this process as well.
“I’m certified in artificial insemination for cattle,” said James. “My certification is through COBA/Select Sires. I am responsible for the breeding season, which goes from July to October.”
Annually, each of the heifers is bred for two reasons: to provide the farm with new steers and heifers as well as to provide milk. Due to this biological cycle, each of the cows will only be producing milk during certain months.
James is also responsible for butchering steers. The slaughter season, which is usually between mid-November and January, is a busy time for him.
“We can usually butcher one steer every couple of weeks,” said Dougherty. “The ideal temperature to do so is between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The meat is then aged for two weeks.”
The family also owns approximately 50 chickens, 15 sheep, 5 calves in pasture, and a sow and boar and their 14 piglets. James helps with each of these groups should his siblings, who have their own sets of responsibilities on the farm, need his assistance.
“We as a family own 27 acres in the valley,” said James. “We oversee another 50 acres which we utilize for grazing our cattle and growing and cutting hay.”
The list of responsibilities James has does not end here, either. He was directly involved with the harvesting of approximately one ton of potatoes, one ton of beets, and 500 pounds of apples grown on their property in the past year. The beets will be fed to the pigs, and the apples will be components of apple cider, wine and butter.
Naturally, a farm needs vehicles. James is a “grease monkey” too, working on the six cars and trucks that the family uses for work and everyday needs, as well as three tractors used for haying on sections of the upper 50 acres.
“Every week I work about 12 hours for the Franciscan T.O.R. sisters at their motherhouse in Toronto,” said James. “I perform general grounds maintenance for the sisters. My Saturdays are split between helping my father with any projects that need to be completed on the farm as well as working for the sisters.”
James Dougherty has much, much more responsibilities on his plate than just the typical college guy’s schedule. Oh, and he’s got a full time girlfriend to boot.