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Lewes, Delaware
Jim's Towing Service
July 11, 1997     Cape Gazette
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July 11, 1997
 

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Hopkins, Sussex dairy,farmer, receives Wolr00Low Award Dairyman Walter Hopkins had no idea he was the 1997 Worrilow Award recipient until days after his name was announced at the University of Delaware Ag Alum- ni Association's annual banquet. He learned about it when he called George Haenlein, UD Coopera- tive Extension dairy specialist, about cattle feed. Hopns had missed the Saturday night event- because "something came up." It's not un- usual for Hopkins to miss a planned night HOPKINS out. Together with his father William, he runs Green Acres Farm - the largest dairy farm in Sussex County. And with almost 1,000 dairy cows and 1,000 filled acres, it' s a 24-hour-a- day job and then some. Hopkins' career path has paral- leled his father's in more ways than one. Both are College of Agricultural Science graduates. Willim Hopkins graduated in 1942; Walter Hopkins in 1970. And both are Worrilow Award re- cipients - William was named 13 years ago. They are the first fa- ther-son recipients in the history of the award, which is presented each year by the UD" Ag Alumni Association to a graduate who has exhibited outstanding service to agriculture. Hopkins' commitment to stay- ing in the dairy farming industry is closely tied to family. His part- nership with his father is truly a division of labor. Walter handles the dairy end of the cows. Walter is the only one of 10 children - eight of whom are UD alums - to return to the farm. After a tour of duty in Vietnam, he returned to the family homestead, where his father, grandfather and great- grandfather had filled the soil: In fact, the Hopkins' farm has since been designated a Delaware Cen- tury Farm - one that has been in continua/operation for more than 100 years. While Walter has a degree in agricultural engineering, he never really pursued a career in the field, because of something he discov- ered between his junior and senior years at UD when he interned for an engineering firm in Tennessee. "I learhed two things that sum- mer," he said, grinning broadly. "I wanted to return to the farm, and I wanted to marry" the boss' daugh- ter." And he did. He and Audrey, his wife of 23 years, have three childreia - two daughters, Amy and Ingrid, and a son, Burli (Wal- ter, Jr.). Hopkins' relaxed manner might give the impression that running a dairy farm this size is easy. Think again. At Green Acres Farm, 18- hour days are the norm, not the exception. The milking alone is a continuous process from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and again from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. About 650 of his cows are in milk at all times and they must be milked everyday, twice a day. Hopkins belongs to the Dairy Herd Improvement Association (DHIA), and the records show that on average, his cows produce 22,000 p.ounds of milk per cow, per year. "It's more than cost-effective," Hopkins said, when asked how he can halldle so many cows. "It's business. And in today's market, I had to increase the number of cows to stay profitable. "We reached a milestone recently," he added. "In April, we trucked 1,000,000 pounds of milk out of here." Hopkins credits genetics and nutrition for the success of his dairy operation. For years he bred his cows based on genetic selec- tion for high performance and quality milk. In addition, he has been developing a new ration that he hopes will mean even better milk production. A vigilant steward of the land, Hopkins has instituted many envi- ronmentally sound management practices, referring to them as "just good business." Three years ago, he installed a flush system in the barn. Water is washed across the cement floor daily to move manure out and cleanse the area. Not only does this process keep the building and cows much cleaner, but the manure is recy- cled onto the fields through crop irrigation to fertilize he corn and alfalfa. Most of the water is recy- cled back into the flushing system. "This system works so well we didn't have to spray for flies this year," Hopkins, "and on a dairy farm, that's saying something." Green Acres Farm, which is sit- uated on Route 9 between Lewes and Georgetown, it is an uncom- mon sight to city-dwelling beach- goers. It's not unusual for people to get out of their ears and line up at the fence to watch a calf being born. "Dad says it's like living in a fish bowl. Sometimes the people passing by know what's going on before we do," Hopkins said. The advantage to being so visi- ble, Hopkins says, is that the farm operation keeps agriculture in the public eye - a great way to remind people about where their food comes from. He knows that edu- cation is the first step to under- standing and that a first hand ex- perience has more impact than pictures in a book. In May every year, Hopkins opens his farm for three days of scheduled 4-H tours that give youngsters an opportunity to see the entire dairy operation from the calving area to the automated milking parlor and feeding sta- tions. Hopkins, a former 4-H'er who has received the 4-H Award of Continued on page 58 CAPE GAZETI, Friday, July 11 - July 17, 1997 - 57 CROWLEY 3" "!&... :,... . . " ASSOCIATES "to a better way" REALTY, INC, T  Rehoboth Beach - Bethany Beach, Delaware National Listing System 302-227-6131 800 2424213 e-mail at crowleyr@dmv.com Member Broker i LOOKING FOR A SECOND HOME YOU CAN USE THIS SUMMER???? Look no further... this home is lease free and has never been rented Live on the bay, strol to the ocean from this 3 BR, 2 1/2 BA year round, interior townhome. Quiei bayfreat Iocaon with secluded pdvate bay bea. 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