NEW VIENNA — New Horizon Farm and Dairy has been in operation for almost 60 years and was built from the ground up by Howard Bickel. But at one point, Donald and Jackie Bickel, who now own it, were considering an exit strategy.
Jackie Bickel told the News Journal that the dairy business wasn’t as profitable as it used to be and that the other dairy farms closed down. In their exit plan, Jackie would’ve continued her off-the-farm job and Donald would have continued working on the other parts of the farm — mostly crop work.
But in 2019 their daughter – Maggie Mathews, age 16 at the time – came up with the idea of selling the milk directly.
“Happy Cow Creamery came about in 2019 when Maggie had an assignment for an FFA project to put a business plan together,” said Jackie.
While Donald and his father, Howard, were a bit apprehensive, they decided to give it a try.
“I was very excited about it,” said Jackie. “I have a marketing background, I could see where the potential was. I’ve seen farms do the same thing. (Donald) was a little reserved to do this until I took (Maggie’s) plan and showed him that it could be profitable.”
They were planning on starting in the spring of 2020, selling it to retailers, but then the pandemic hit. So they decided to continue selling it at the on-site store, but they also sold them through the website Market Wagon, which delivers on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
“(Market Wagon) did not have to shut down — they were considered essential. Since the supply chain was disrupted, (the website) was able to deliver our product to stores,” said Jackie.
She told the News Journal she’s very proud of the direction the farm has taken since it’s keeping this aspect alive and it gives the younger generation an opportunity to help.
She and Donald hope it remains an option for the next generations.
“We want them to have their own life choices but we wanted to have the farm here for them if they decide to continue working here,” she said.
To learn more about the farm, the store and its products, visit happycowsatnewhorizon.com. Happy Cow Creamery is located at 1103 Hodson Road in New Vienna.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574