Zack’s great grandfather, Earle Snider, started farming in the 1940’s in Clark County Ohio as a share cropper on a 500 acre grain farm.  Earle’s son Larry, eager to begin his own farming career bought goats in high school and sold milk to buy his first dairy cow.  Larry continued building his herd of registered Brown Swiss, graduated from high school in 1959 and was married to Becky Ropp in 1960.  Together they built their herd to 80 head by 1964.  It was at this time that Earle and Larry bought their first farm when their landlord wanted to sell.  Larry & Becky sold the dairy herd to have enough money for their share of the down payment.  In 1972, after the early passing of Earle’s wife Marguerite, Earle and Larry decided to sell the farm and Larry & Becky moved 120 miles north to Ashland, Ohio and bought a dairy farm there.  Four years later in 1976 after expanding, Larry & Becky sold that farm and moved to Hart, Michigan where they bought the home place of our current farm.  They milked 29 cows, had some asparagus and cherries, grew corn on sandy ground and then added hogs in 1979, making this a much different kind of farming operation than the Ohio roots.

In 1981, after graduation from Hart High School, Larry’s son Andy married Beth Riley and they joined Larry & Becky farming fulltime.  The two couples farmed together from 1982 through 1994 expanding the dairy to 60 cows and the hogs from 100 to 130 sows.  The well managed herd of registered Holsteins reached as high as 3rd in the state for milk production during this time.  1994 was a year of transition with the addition of the first turkey barns, raising turkeys as contract growers for Bil-Mar Foods, a division of Sara Lee, and Larry & Becky selling the farm to Andy and Beth.  At the end of 1994, the senior Sniders moved to warmer climates and took up other careers.  The next 2 years (22 ½ months) were challenging for Andy and Beth and their small team; milking the 60 cows three times a day, selling feeder pigs from the 130 sows, learning the ‘new’ turkey enterprise, and farming 177 acres.

On the morning of November 17, 1996, Andy and Beth woke to the dairy barn totally ablaze.  Even though several cows were saved, only one survived; the entire dairy facility and milking age cows were lost in the fire.  “We were out of the dairy business” and over the next several months, they raised and sold all of the dairy young stock.  By spring of 1998, plans had been made to depopulate the sow herd and expand the herd fourfold with new breeding stock and a new gestation barn.  As the old sow herd was sold and construction began, the Sniders, along with all of the other turkey growers in west Michigan were informed by Sara Lee that they were exiting the live turkey business in Michigan effective immediately.  “These were trying days….the dairy herd was gone, the sow herd had been sold and now our turkey barns would be empty.” Had the turkey announcement happened 6 weeks earlier, we may not have been in the farming business today.  Over the next few years, many changes would occur bringing us up to the present.

The new gestation barn and expanded sow herd has been very efficient to this day.  We expanded turkey production in 2002 by 45% with the addition of one new grower and shorter cycles through the brooder.  Then ten years later our turkey enterprise was doubled in 2012 with the construction of a totally new farm 1.5 miles to the SE named Airport View Turkeys.   The grain storage facility was tripled in size in 2006 and expanded again in 2013 and in 2016.  By adding a crop protection building, fertilizer storage with secondary containment, and an indoor litter storage, we have raised our environmental safety and awareness to the highest level.

After doing all the paperwork and office duties in the house for all the years, we came to a realization that with all the technology every team member was using and all the information being generated we needed office space and also a much bigger shop to work on the huge equipment during breakdowns and maintenance in the off-field seasons.  In 2014, a new shop and office center was built.  Using repurposed siding and beams from the old bank barn that was torn down the summer before, we were able to have a simply beautiful facility built to house all office activities and any equipment repair, fabricating and maintenance needed on the farm vehicles, tractors, tillage, planting and harvesting implements.  Feel free to stop in during the day and see our office/shop and say “HI” and share a cup of coffee!

We continue to grow and evolve our farm as opportunities present themselves and always endeavor to be the best we can be at what we’ve been called to do.  We consider what we do and where we live to be a blessing from God and want to praise Him for that.

Psalm 100:5 “For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”