By SANDY CIUPAK
Special to The Gazette
Maple Valley Farm started out as a family operation, and thatâ€™s how it continues today. After the death of his father, Gene, Steve Fulton took on the farmâ€™s major responsibilities, along with his wife, Beth. But the rest of the family plays a big role in the day-to-day operations.
Steve and Bethâ€™s son Andrew, 21, works full time on the farm. Like his father, he sports a curly, reddish beard. Their daughter Rebecca, 21, works in Medina as a veterinary technician but still handles some of the milking, while Kimberly, 19, feeds the calves every night â€” as well as working three other jobs. When he isnâ€™t in school, 14-year-old son Cory works full time on the farm.
Steveâ€™s sister Cheryl doesnâ€™t live on the farm, but she helps with the books and the taxes; another sister, Brenda, helps with milking and takes care of calves. Steveâ€™s youngest sister, Kelly, helped on the farm while she was growing up but now lives with her family in Dalton.
Finally, Maple Valley Farm wouldnâ€™t be what it is without Grace Fulton, Steveâ€™s mom, who lives right next door. Grace keeps the books and also safeguards the familyâ€™s memories. Scrapbooks full of newspaper clippings and photographs document the years Grace and Gene spent running the farm with their busy family. Among Graceâ€™s memories: traveling with Gene to visit maple sugaring operations of all sizes and types, â€œfrom the very old sugar camps to the modern ones,â€ Grace said.
She admitted to liking the old ways best.
â€œBut it was a lot harder,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s still a lot of work. Goodnessâ€™ sake, itâ€™s a lot of work.â€