Father and son duo, Joseph (Joe) and Taylor Barlow of Hildale, went out of a limb purchasing the Finney Farm during the global pandemic in September of 2020. Originally owned by their 3rd shoestring cousin, Winford “Finney” Barlow, Joe, an electrician by trade, and his son, Taylor, a police officer, both kept their day jobs and added a farm load of work to their families’ daily agenda.
Joe grew up in the Salt Lake area before moving to Hildale 30 years ago and is no stranger to farm life. As a kid, Joe was responsible for milking the family cow, and now, as an adult, he’s raising cows and pigs. Taylor’s upbringing has been one of farm life in many ways, yet before the purchase of the farm, they had not operated a farm of this size, and according to Joe, “the learning curve was steep.”
Many folks assumed that the pandemic wasn’t a good time to purchase a farm such as the Barlow’s did, however, according to Joe, “Covid helped our business because people wanted to eat healthier options, and especially during a time of turmoil and fear within the nation, it’s nice to have a nearby local option.”
The farm is located in an idyllic location surrounded by red rock country on the backside of Zion National Park in the small town of Hildale, which rests on the Utah-Arizona border. The Barlows enjoy the location which offers stunning views of the red rock country, and wide open spaces that allow them to participate in Harvest Host, an RV membership program that allows self-contained travelers to overnight at unique locations around the country including farms, wineries, ranches and more, with no overnight fees.
The Barlow family has hosted families from as far away as Germany and Holland, as well as several local or US-based tourists. When you visit the farm, you can also take part in a tour specializing in small groups. From preschoolers to seniors, all are welcome.
The ranch specializes in raw milk, butter, cream, cheese, and small-batch frozen yogurt, all from their 40 registered Swiss Brown milking cows. The cows consist of 31 milking cows, nine dry cows which are calving, and one bull. Each one has been named and tagged with its name and birthdate instead of just a number.
“A free-roam cow mingling out in the field combined with no antibiotics simply makes a healthier option, along with rotating them to allow the cows to have a calf and take the time needed to restore their milk-giving capacities,” said Taylor.
Brown Swiss cows are said to be great for cheese-making, which is aged from a basic cheddar to a fine artisanal cheese you will find at the Finney Farms Dairy and Country Store, with locations in both Hildale and St. George.
The small stores sell all homemade wares including a crowd-favorite, squeaky cheese, and braided smoked mozzarella cheese. There is even a beer sourced from the local Edge of the World Brewery in Hildale, grass-fed beef from Parowan, and Elderberry Jam from American Fork.
While the products may cost a bit more and have a shorter shelf-life than those found in regular supermarkets, you will find that the unpasteurized products offer a quality that is second to none. Costs reflect a direct correlation between feed and hay costs which have affected farmers across the United States.
When I asked about their biggest challenge in owning a farm of this size, Joe chuckled and explained that it was the machinery that was the most challenging aspect.
“My background in electrical engineering has been a huge blessing as we’ve learned how to operate the miking system consisting of a menagerie of pumps, valves and motors,” he said.
When asked about what their greatest joy was regarding the farm, both father and son responded that watching something grow and turn into something great that in turn blesses members of the community is by far their greatest joy.
The Barlow’s have huge plans and dreams for the farm in the future, along with another store in the mouth of the canyon and a future farm-themed Airbnb on the property with each room featuring farm life from a different country such as Germany, Switzerland, and so on.
“The farm is a work in progress and we are excited to see where it takes us,” said Taylor.