About the Farmers
1936: Cagles Come to Hickory Flat
Clayton and Estelle Cagle bought the farm from Estelle Cagle’s cousin, who had operated what was considered a modern dairy between 1923 and 1935. Farmer Clayton raised cotton and did his own blacksmithing.
The Cagle’s had what was considered a self-sustaining farm. Almost all of the family food came from the farm. The garden supplied seasonal vegetables, and the family preserved the surplus for the winter ahead.
Their flock of hens supplied eggs and chicken dinner for the family. Surplus eggs brought extra money for the goodies of life such as, salt, sugar, canning jars and other staples from the country store.
The family always had two or three cows to supply the family with milk. Extra milk was churned into butter — and extra butter was sold at local markets. As the family grew, so did their herd of cows. Soon they were selling milk to Lands Dairy in the community.
1952: Cagle Brothers Dairy
Albert and his brother, Charles were now finishing school and thinking of growing the business, calling it the Cagle Brothers Dairy. The first milking barn was built in 1952 and electric milking machines followed soon. The family dairy was to grow in this flat barn until 1969. Sixty to seventy-five cows became the normal herd size, proving the flat barn not efficient and too labor intense. Charles decided to leave the farm. Albert bought the joining farm and looked to the future in dairy farming. He married Bernese Hames in 1952. Their family, boys Len, David, Mark and Scott, grew up at Cagle’s Dairy Farm. Albert and Bernese have retired from active farming and live across the road from the current farm in a historic farm house.
1959: Etowah Maid Dairies
Cagle’s Dairy Farm operated the oldest continuously operating processing plant in the state of Georgia — Etowah Maid Dairies. In 1972, Cagle’s Dairy, as it came to be called, became a producer-processor and moved the processing plant from Canton to the family farm in Hickory Flat, Georgia.
1995: Farming a New Frontier – AgriTourism
As the local community grew and became a part of the Atlanta metropolitan area a decision had to be made. The Cagle family was growing as sons married and had families of their own. The cost of property limited the ability to increase the farm size to meet the growing needs of the larger family. The family had been a part of this community for many years. They did not want to leave the community or farm that they loved and had been a part of so long.
So, they turned to a new frontier.
They continued to operate a real working dairy farm and milk processing plant and began to provide educational farm tours. Their motto was “Every urban child should learn that their food, including milk, is produced on a farm and not just a product of the local grocery store.”
In addition to the working dairy and educational field trips, Cagle’s Dairy Farm was one of the first in the state of Georgia to have a cornfield maze in 2000. A pumpkin patch, hayrides, herding dog demonstrations, haunted attractions and more made the green pastures come alive with families seeking wholesome entertainment.
2010: The Fifth Generation at Cagle’s Farm
Ben and Vicki Fann Cagle now own Cagle’s Family Farm. They operate it with brother Levi, and their son, Clayton (named for his great-great grandpappy). Clay is the fifth generation of Cagles to farm this land. It’s no longer a working dairy farm, but maintains a herd of dairy cows and a variety of farm animals. The family is innovatively continuing the agri-tourism venue for family fun and education.