Terry Bickford, Lead Farm Worker
One of Terry Bickford’s earliest farming experiences was as an infant at the former Stiles Dairy Farm in Strafford, New Hampshire. Bickford’s family had a long history of working for the Stiles – his grandfather and grandmother, his father, Terry himself when he turned 13, and Terry’s brother all worked at the dairy farm.
Terry's grandmother bottled milk for the Stiles until 1986 and, when he was an infant, Terry would accompany her to the job and watch her bottle. When he got old enough, he helped her and did other farm duties that he could, including stacking hay and driving tractors. Terry worked at the Stiles farm for nearly a decade, becoming well acquainted with farm life and operations, before going on to service and sell tractors and work in automotive maintenance.
Position: Lead Farm Worker, UNH Farm Services Operation
Years with NHAES: Current role since 2021; previously worked for UNH Farm Services in early 2000s
Previous positions: mechanic with Walmart Auto Care Center, Portsmouth, NH; salesperson and mechanic with United Ag & Turf, Dover, NH
Terry Bickford: The field work, you get to get outside all the time. It’s something different every day – it’s not necessarily the same thing every day. There are days where it’s the same thing, like any job, but you might be doing the same thing for just a week and then the following week – because of the weather or just a new task – you’ll do something else.
You never know what you’re going to get into when you wake up and go to work. Everything could run smoothly for a day or two, and then you might have to be fixing a piece of equipment or something like that.
Terry: A lot has changed. Everything has gone from intuition to technology driven. You used to just have to “know” how to drive the tractor in a straight line – now you have GPS that can tell you how to do that.
And I’m still from the “way-back” era of farming. I’m still learning some of this new stuff. I’m really familiar with the “old ways” of how we used to do it and now I’m learning some of these new ways, using new equipment and new technologies. It’s very interesting to me. It’s nice, though, learning something new every day and comparing it back from when I was younger working on farms.
Terry: I like hearing about the work and research that they do. It’s nice seeing the students involved and trying to make improvements in agriculture and make the industry more natural and sustainable.
Terry: I use to do a lot of snowmobiling. I have kids now, so a little less. Nowadays, I do a lot with my family. Being able to do things with my two kids and my wife is my primary focus.
We raise goats and chickens too. We have about 12 goats – they’re a handful, but the kids help take care of them and it makes them happy. We have two dogs too, two cats, a fish, rabbit and hedgehog. They love their animals, so it’s hard to say no.