Mary Mackinson Faber connects dairy consumers with her family's dairy
June is National Dairy Month, so we thought we’d celebrate dairy by going straight to the source: the farm! Thanks to Mary Faber for sharing her insights from having grown up on her family’s fifth generation dairy farm. Mary now manages her family’s Mackinson Dairy Farm Facebook page and blog, giving consumers a closer connection to the milk, yogurt, ice cream, and other delicious dairy products they enjoy.
Mary (Mackinson) Faber grew up on her family’s dairy farm, so she knows quite a bit about the day-to-day operations and hard work that goes into each gallon of milk at the grocery store.
“I can’t imagine any other childhood than growing up on our dairy farm. We had chores, we’d go out and help dad,” Faber said. “Looking back, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m proud of that experience and I’m proud to be part of the agricultural community. It’s a great to be part of such a wonderful community of people.”
Founded over 100 years ago in Pontiac, Illinois, by her great-great-grandfather, Daniel Mackinson, Mackinson Dairy Farm is a fifth-generation Centennial Farm – a mark of distinction for Illinois farms that have been family-owned for over 100 years. Currently, the dairy is run by Faber’s parents, her brother, and her uncle. In addition to her full-time job at a nearby grain elevator, Faber helps consumers connect with her family’s farm through its Facebook page and blog.
“My full-time job is outside of the farm, so I have standard work hours. When five o’clock hits, my workday is done, which allows me to help out with the dairy by managing the Facebook page and blog,” Faber said.
From daily chores to dairy cows, Faber brings her family’s farm operation to more than 1,200 followers on the Mackinson Dairy Farm Facebook page. Originally, the page was set up simply to substantiate the dairy’s presence.
“We started the Facebook page just over a year ago,” Faber said. “My parents were going to visit my brother David, who lives in South America, and David was working on lining up a farm tour for them. He needed to be able to show that our farm was the real deal, so we setup the Facebook page. In the beginning, we started by sharing facts, and it grew from there.”
As Mackinson Dairy Farm’s Facebook audience has grown, so has the variety of content Faber shares, including fun cow photos, farm events and information, and the dairy products that are produced with milk from the Mackinsons’ dairy.
“We’ve been able to put a face to a dairy farm and start a direct conversation with the people who enjoy the dairy produced here,” Faber said. “Developing a relationship and being that trustworthy source of information has been really rewarding. We get feedback that people like to see what’s going on and the facts that we’re providing.”
From elementary classrooms to parents and even other farmers, many have taken an interest in the Mackinsons’ dairy, commenting and liking the farm facts that Faber posts on its page.
“It’s easy to go to the store, pick up a jug of milk, drink it, and enjoy it. What many people don’t know – and are interested in knowing – is what goes into getting that gallon of milk. Not everyone knows that cows must be milked twice a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It’s a lot of dedication,” Faber said.
In addition to posting facts about the day-to-day farm operations, cow care, and feed, Faber helps inform the farm’s fans with facts debunking common misconceptions about dairy.
“The number one misconception about dairy products is that you have to worry about antibiotics when you’re buying milk in the store. That’s completely untrue,” Faber said. “All milk – conventional and organic – is antibiotic free.”
With a growing Facebook fan base and more in-depth topics to discuss, Faber decided to start a blog to share content that made more sense to be able to share in a longer format.
“There were topics we wanted to talk about, but the content length wasn’t quite right for Facebook; so, we started a blog,” Faber said.
One of the blog’s highlights is the story of a Mackinson Dairy Farm calf named Bumblebee, who is avidly followed by a local elementary school class. Through the blog and Facebook page, you can see that the Mackinsons take great pride in and care of their cows.
“In order for the cows to do well, you have to take the best possible care of them. It’s important to keep them comfortable and healthy,” Faber said.
A mother of two, Faber says she also shares from the perspective of a parent who sees so much information – and misinformation – about food choices and feeding a family.
“As a mom, I hope that sharing this kind of information helps other parents be more comfortable buying that jug of milk, cup of yogurt, or gallon of ice cream,” Faber said. “There are so many fear tactics out there – I don’t think that going to the grocery store should be so stressful.”
Overall, the dairy’s Facebook page is about fun and learning. Faber says she is glad that the dairy’s Facebook page makes it possible to connect with so many people over a topic that her family is very passionate about.
“Growing up on the farm has played a huge role in my awareness of food and the care and work that goes into it,” Faber said. “I want to share that education and those experiences with others.”
As for Faber’s favorite dairy experience, it’s “a cold glass of milk – two percent!”