Through good times — including an Arnold Schwarzenegger visit — and bad — including drought and illness — the DeSmet Dairy has survived for more than 75 years in Bosque Farms.   

The DeSmet Dairy, 120 acres in the southwest corner of Bosque Farms, is now operated by Michael and Erica DeSmet.  

“My grandfather moved here in 1949,” Michael said of Landon DeSmet. “He got it up and running with around 10 cows or so.”  

This part of Valencia County once featured multiple dairies, and in the 1970s, the DeSmets “moved up in the world.” A nearby dairy was purchased, increasing the acreage and herd.    

“They started milking around 300, 350 cows twice a day,” Michael said, filling old milk jugs and hauling them to Albuquerque to sell. “They did that for years and years and years.”  

Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos 

Erica and Michael DeSmet own and operate DeSmet Dairy, which has been in Bosque Farms since 1949. 

As the dairy grew, so did the DeSmet roots in Bosque Farms. Michael says in those early days, his grandmother, Etta, helped start the local volunteer fire department after a neighbor’s house burned.   

Grandpa had a role in the building of the rodeo arena, said Michael.  

“So my dad and all the surrounding kids had something to actually do here.”  

His father, Huck, eventually inherited the farm.   

Michael’s wife, Erica, a first-term Bosque Farms village councilor, married into the dairy business.  

“I always say that I was a princess before I met Michael, and he turned me into a farm girl,” she said.  

The couple’s first date “involved some cows trying to have babies.”   

The experience didn’t scare off Erica, who now “handles all the distribution, the sales, all of that stuff,” said Michael. “She gives our farm a face. She’s the one, through social media, giving our farm almost a personality.” 

Mooving on out  

Before Erica entered the picture, Michael headed to college in Florida, convinced he “wanted to move off the farm and do something else. At least I thought I did.”   

While studying radiology “in a basement, taking pictures, with no windows,” he quickly realized, “I’m a farm kid, man.”  

Soon, he was working in the college dairy program, but his professor pulled him aside and said, ‘What are you doing here? Obviously, you’re from a dairy family. Go home’ — pretty good advice.” 

Samuel Santiago, dairy manager, watches over the cows during the milking process at DeSmet Dairy in Bosque Farms. 

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That was advice Michael was ready to take; however, his father had already arranged to sell the herd to a bigger operation in Veguita.   

It may have been a blessing. Michael ended up in the dairy industry in Vermont as a consultant, giving advice on cow health and production while learning the inner workings of small dairies there.   

During this time, Huck suffered a stroke. It prevented him from taking care of the property, which had transitioned to farming and some beef cattle.   

Not long after, Michael returned to Bosque Farms to size things up and try different things to keep the place running, but “nothing really panned out.” It was then that Michael realized “dairy is kind of in our blood. We had the facilities already,” so the plan was to return to milking cows. One problem — finances.  

 Terminator to the rescue  

“Get to the chopper” is an iconic line spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1987 movie “Predator.” While “Get to the dairy” may not have the same ring, Schwarzenegger came to the rescue of DeSmet Dairy, whether he knows it or not.  

The 2013 action film, “The Last Stand” brought Schwarzenegger to Belen and surrounding areas. Remember the tagline, “Not in his town. Not on his watch?”    

Despite objections from Huck, “Don’t get back into the dairy. I got out for a reason,” the decision was made to restart the dairy after a short pause. With no milk cows and equipment upgrades, money was needed to reboot.   

At about that time, the production crew for “The Last Stand” sought a place to shoot a scene. “We rented out our farm to them. That gave me enough money to get back into the dairy business,” Michael said.  

Others also helped, including a nearby dairyman.  

The cows at DeSmet Dairy in Bosque Farms wait their turn for a once-daily milking in the milk barn. 

“He basically told me, ‘You go out there and pick any 10 cows and when you can pay me, you can pay me.’”  

Another operator had some old equipment.  

“It’s just sitting out there. It’s yours if you want it,” he told Michael.  “I am literally at all these big dairies, picking through their junk pile. Everything just kind of fell together with help from a bunch of different people.”  

Regenerative farming  

As the dairy operation restarted, Michael saw an opportunity to do something he learned in Vermont but was told it wouldn’t be successful here.   

“We are grazing them out on green grass. No fertilizers, no herbicide, no pesticide. We’re planting an array of different things,” rotating the cows from pasture to pasture. “I’m basically creating a big salad for them out there. It’s more cost effective for me and it builds our soil health.”  

The 125 acre DeSmet Dairy in Bosque Farms is home to about 200 head of milk cows. 

DeSmet Dairy sells their fresh, non-pasteurized milk and other products at a small store on their property, and across New Mexico.  

“All the way from Taos down to Las Cruces. We distribute to mostly co-ops, some grocery stores,” Erica said.  

When asked if they are making any money, both Michael and Erica burst out laughing.  

“Most of the time,” is Michael’s response, adding, “The expenses are just shooting through the roof.”  

The DeSmet’s two children, 13-year-old Landon, named after his grandfather, and 11-year-old Logan, help around the farm. Will they someday take it over?  

“I would hope that would be the case,” Erica said, adding “with the drought and the cost of everything it might not be feasible in Bosque Farms.”  

Erica hears what kids say when they visit the dairy on school tours.  

“I wish I lived here; I wish I had a farm,” Erica recounts. “I take these things for granted. I’m happy my kids get to have this experience.”  

“Dairy farming is not for the weak of heart,” Michael says. “This isn’t a job — it’s a way of life.” 

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Mike Powers | News-Bulletin Staff Writer

Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.