You’ve heard of eight maids-a-milking.
Well, SpringHouse Farm has nine.
Bev Minor with one of the farm's 100 cows.Devin Harris
Bev and Sam Minor, age 77 and 79, bought a Washington, Pa. farm in 1975 with a dream to produce and sell milk from a country store.
Over the past 42 years, they expanded SpringHouse Farm from 80 acres to 415, where they milk, pasteurize and homogenize the product from 100 Holstein and Jersey cows. They built the country store they dreamed of, The SpringHouse, to sell milk, cheese and produce in a homey space. It’s also known for catering these days, delivering home-cooked goods to weddings, parties and offices in the shop’s iconic red van. All of that, plus they’ve had five children and 21 grandchildren, many of whom work on the farm.
“The nine maids are all granddaughters and daughters,” matriarch Bev Minor said. “It’s pretty special to be able to share that. … These children made this business happen as much as Sam and I did.”
The nine maids-a-milking — matriarch Bev Minor, founder of SpringHouse; her daughters, market Manager Marcia Minor Opp, 54, catering Manager Jill Miles, 51, market Saleswoman Kristen “Tee” Kelly, 53; and granddaughters, Lydia Kelly, 20, who works with her mom in market sales, Abigail, 23, and Sarah Miles, 22, who work in catering and design, and Allie, 21, and Hannah Kelly, 24, who do sales — come in behind the scenes. They do everything from overseeing the budget to taking catering orders to peeling apples at the dairy farm, country market and buffet-style restaurant. Daughter Jody Engelhardt lives in Texas, and Sam, the couple’s only son, runs the farm.
“It really is a blessing to get to work in a family business,” Marcia said, adding especially one where the family can develop their parents’ vision.
Market Manager Marcia Minor Opp milking a cow.Devin Harris
Bev and Sam both grew up on dairy farms and met as teenagers showing cows at the Greene County Fair. For a while, Sam worked in business, traveling often, which took him away from Bev and their young children. Then, they began talking about starting their own farm.
“In the corner of the processing room, we engraved, ‘Dreams really do come true’ — and they do, they do. But you really do have to work at dreams,” Bev said. “Don’t give up.”
Indeed, farming is hard work, but for the Minors, it’s a profession they love — and they love watching their children and grandchildren learn the work, too.
“We grew up on farms where hard work was considered a virtue. You’re a better person because you were able to work hard,” Sam, the family’s patriarch, said. “I think we transmitted that to our children.”
Those values, Bev chimes in, are part of the agriculture mindset — and the Southwestern Pennsylvania mindset in general.
The nine maids a milking, from left to right: Marcia Minor Opp, market manager; Jill Miles, catering manager; Kristen Kelly, market sales; Lydia Kelly, market sales; Abigail Miles, catering and design; Sarah Miles, catering and design; Allie Kelly, sales; Hannah Kelly, sales; Bev Minor, founder of SpringHouseDevin Harris
When the farm began, its milk really drew people in, particularly in what was at the time a very rural area.
Over the years, the farm has expanded to harvest additional crops, such as pumpkins, corn and hay, and added a smokehouse for old-fashioned-hickory smoked hams. But the milk — especially the rich chocolate milk — is still a big draw.
“We actually started before the farm-to-table was a big deal. We were really doing farm-to-table by producing the milk and selling it on the farm where it was produced,” Bev said.
Catering’s part of the business now, led by Jill Miles and her daughters, who she called “very, very instrumental.” The family believes in cooking seasonally “as our grandmothers did,” Bev said.
The girls, Bev and Sam’s granddaughters, started by selling made-from-scratch baked goods at farmer’s markets around the age of 10, and now in their 20s, they can handle catering events solo.
“We’re trying to create old-fashioned memories,” Bev said. “We love when people come in the store and say, ‘When I come in here, I feel like I’m coming home.'”