1700s – Although we haven’t always been known as Richlands Dairy Farm, our farmland has been family owned and operated since before America was an independent nation! Originally the property was primarily a homestead and tobacco farm.
1913 – The house was built over 100 years ago as a gift from Mr. Charlie to his bride Mrs. Willie, who did not see the house until they were married. Mr. Charlie and Mrs. Willie had four children; CL, Garland, Mary Charlotte, and Ray.
1924 – Ray Jones, who we all know as Grandpa, was born in the farmhouse. He was the youngest of the four children.
1945 – Grandpa joins the Navy to fight in WWII much to his parent’s dismay. Because he was the youngest son and his older 2 brothers were already drafted, his father called him home to the farm to take advantage of the exemption of farm workers from the draft. Grandpa struggled with not joining his brothers and friends in the war and ultimately disobeyed his parent’s will and enlisted in the Navy.
Aug 8, 1948 – Ray married Shirley Dews, a local girl he had his eye on for some years. She was 5 years younger than him so he always joked that he knew from a young age that he wanted to marry her, but had to wait for her to grow up.
1949 – After graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech) with a degree in Agronomy, Grandpa and Grandma moved to Richlands, VA where Grandpa worked as a manager for a local feed Cooperative – similar to a modern day Southern States. While living in Richlands they bought a Jersey milk cow in partnership with a neighboring couple and would take turns milking the cow every other day.
1952 – Grandpa and Grandma move back to the farm and begin to convert it from primarily tobacco to dairy. Before leaving Richlands, VA they and the neighbor flipped a coin to see who would keep the Jersey milk cow. Grandma and Grandpa won the toss and brought a cow, a young daughter (Carol) and the name Richlands, back to the family farm.
1950 to 1960 – The Jones family continues to expand as 4 more children join the ranks (Vivian, Gayle, Hugh & Jennifer) and take on farm chores as they get older.
1978 – Hugh graduated with a degree in Dairy Science from Virginia Tech and married his high school sweetheart, Tracey Neal. He started working on the farm full-time and would visit Tracey at Virginia Tech on the weekends during her senior year.
1979 – Tracey joined Hugh on the farm after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Degree in Dairy Science as well. A few years later she earned a medical degree from the Medical College of Virginia as an OB/GYN and joined a private practice. She often points out children she delivered on our school tours.
1980 to 1985 – The Jones farm family expands again with the birth of Hugh and Tracey’s 3 children; Coley, Erin & TR.
2002 – The current milking parlor was built which upgraded the farm from a double 6 Herringbone to a double 10 Parallel with Rapid Exit.
2005 – Coley comes home to the farm and begins working full-time after getting a degree in Human Nutrition, Food and Exercise from Virginia Tech and traveling the globe for several years. She often says that she used her time on the farm to decide if it was what she wanted to pursue as a career, or if it was the kick in the butt she needed to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. Despite Hugh’s best efforts to encourage her to do anything other than dairy farm, she is still here.
2006 – TR returned home to work on the farm after graduating from Virginia Tech with an Associates Degree from the Ag Tech School and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dairy Science. After several years on the farm, he took a summer off to work on a custom combine crew in the midwest for harvest season.
2013 – Brittany Willing and TR exchanged vows on the farm. For the reception, they kicked the cows out of the big barn, cleaned it up and threw a great party! They then move to Ohio where Brittany was enrolled in a Microbiology Doctorate Program.
2014 – TR and Brittany moved back to the farm and begin working full-time. Brittany proved to be a great addition to the farm as she put her Masters Degree in Dairy Science and Microbiology from Virginia Tech with her.
New Year’s Eve 2014/2015 – Jacob Drinkwater and Coley get married.
2015 to 2017– The Jones farm family grows yet again with the birth of TR and Brittany’s children, Hazel & Leland, and Jacob and Coley’s daughter, Hayden.
2017 – The family isn’t the only thing expanding this year though as the farm buys an original piece of the property back from other family members. TR & Brittany began renovating Uncle Gatewood’s house (Mr. Charlie’s brother) and move in just before Christmas.
May 2018 – Creamery ground breaking.
2018 – Grandpa Jones passed away in July in the same room he was born in just a few weeks shy of his 94th birthday, leaving behind a lasting farming legacy and a passion for dairy. There was an epic celebration of his life on the farm after the memorial service. He would have loved it.
June 2019 – Richlands Creamery Opens!!! (We hope)
Today – There are currently four generations of Jones’ living and working on Richlands and it is still an operating dairy farm with over 500 cows from our youngest calf born to our oldest retiree, Quasi, who recently celebrated her 18th birthday! Quasi can be seen enjoying her retirement out in one of our many pastures, easily identified by her Swiss cowbell. We currently farm approximately 800 acres of land, some of which is owned and some of which we rent. We grow corn and rye grass, all of which we use to feed our cows. We also plant a pumpkin patch and a 4-acre corn maze for our Fall Festival in October, in addition to hosting groups and events throughout the year. Some of our events include a Dairy Month celebration hosted the last weekend in June, Dinners on the Dairy, school group tours, and large group or private tours. See our Agritourism page for more information and to book your tour!