Can-do spirit drives Coblentz Dairy in Chouteau, OK

Working hard and confronting change is nothing new for Coblentz Dairy. As a 5-year-old, Charles Coblentz picked cotton in the hot sun of the property he now owns. His family had shut down their farm’s dairy operations by the time he was in high school. Intent on bringing it back, Charles labored in the fields to save money, rented 120 acres from his mother, and bought 20 of his own heifers.

After his dairy reached a larger scale, he started producing and grinding his own grain to feed the cattle rather than outsourcing. When Charles learned that the local fertilizer dealership was charging him and other neighboring family farms more than larger operations, he started his own fertilizer business, even ordering services to apply the fertilizer or rent out necessary equipment.

Now age 64, Charles and his three sons, Charlie, Anthony and Adam, milk 400 cows multiple times per day while also managing 800 beef cattle, thousands of acres of crops and the fertilizer business. His wife, Ellen, “retired” a few years ago, but remains much more hands-on than the average retiree. “It’s not uncommon to go from milking cows to managing fertilizer inventory to mixing feed to ordering parts within 15 minutes,” said Adam.

A new milking barn at the Coblentz Dairy was built in 2010 to increase the herd’s efficiency. The double-30 rapid-release barn allowed them to double the number of cows simultaneously milked, drastically reducing what was otherwise becoming a round-the-clock chore.

Still, the family has no intentions of losing the can-do spirit that traces back to the 1930s, when Adam’s great-grandfather became the first person to bring Holstein cows to Mayes County. In explaining to a regional news outlet the importance of work ethic amidst invention, Charles relayed a family story. His Uncle Tom worked harder than anyone he’d ever seen, but his equipment constantly failed, and he occasionally mismanaged his operation.

Comparatively, his Uncle Sam didn’t work as hard, but mostly because his modern technology didn’t necessitate such. “From the time I was young I’ve always said I want to work like Uncle Tom, but manage like Uncle Sam,” said Charles.

As a fifth-generation of Coblentzes grows up on the farm in an era of technology, Charles’ son Adam sees this combination of brain and brawn taking hold as family members young and old team up to leverage new equipment or apply elbow grease to keep the milking parlors fresh and clean. “We don’t cut corners in dairy farming,” he asserted. “We take pride in producing a good product, and we take care of our animals the way it needs to be done.”