Midge Hauser wears many hats typical of farm wife
OLD BRIDGE — John Hauser’s wife Carolyn “Midge” Hausner wasn’t raised on a farm like her husband, but she does provide a needed second set of eyes and outsider’s perspective about operations and procedures at Hauser Hill Farms and Browntown Bus Service.
Midge has been teaching Spanish at Carl Sandburg Middle School in Old Bridge, minutes from their farm, for the last 18 years.
She is the outgoing president of the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture, her term ending this month.
“I’ve actually known John since I was a kid, because he and my father were in the [Cheesequake] Fire Department together,” she said.
During summers away from school and during the school year, Midge can be found cutting the grass in the apple orchards and she helps out with staffing and is involved working at most of the farmers’ markets on weekends and weekdays during the summer.
“I help set up and break down at the markets and I help John with just about anything that he needs, fertilizer orders, spray materials, I’m just kind of his right hand person.”
Midge handles the Hauser Hill Farms Facebook page and website and answers most of the e-mails.
Former students from her Spanish classes work the retail farm stand.
Midge Hauser went to Cedar Ridge High School and Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania and got her Master’s degree online from Mary Grove College, working with the local school district.
She said that she and John were set up on a blind date after he and his first wife separated. They had a first date in March, got engaged in September and were married on Dec. 30, 2000.
Given that she wasn’t raised on a farm and her parents moved from the Bronx to Old Bridge before she was born, what does Midge most love about the farming lifestyle?
“It’s a very wholesome lifestyle. The work is hard. But at the end of the day, you feel like you’ve accomplished something and you’re one with the earth; that does a lot to nurture your soul and keep you in check. It’s an important job to you and the rest of the world, to keep everybody fed, and we have some incredibly loyal customers that have known the family and been to the farm stand for many years. They keep you going as well.”
Given that John is so busy running a farm and the Browntown Bus Service through the growing season, does he come to her for advice? Yes, she said.
“We’re a pretty good team. We bounce things off each other and we both work well together. We both understand what the end game should look like and we try to get there the easiest way possible, without anybody getting hurt.”
Regarding her recent two-year term as president of the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture, Midge said she benefitted from an already active board and that made her job easier.
“I was very fortunate, we have great growers, but I think the most important function for the whole board is to make sure that the county is there for every farmer, whether they’re members or not, are getting what they need.
“Thank God for Farm Bureau, because they really have their fingers on the pulse of what is happening everywhere in the state,” she added.
Asked about frustrating aspects of farming, she noted a few years ago whole crops were wiped out because they were in bloom and then a freeze came.
“People are so used to getting things when they want them, it takes some time for them to learn the seasonality of fruits and vegetables,” she said.
“Neighbors can be difficult. They buy a house near a farm, they think it’s cute. Then once they’re living here and they see what goes into making the farm work, there’s animals and smells, all of a sudden it’s not so cute,” she argued, “people also tend to think the whole open space thing is for them. We’re out there taking care of trees all year, yet we have no fences and no signs telling people to keep out.
“That all takes extra money that we don’t have.”
“Animal pressures are constant,” she said, and people throw litter alongside the orchards on busy Ticetown Road, once a bucolic, winding, twisting farm road that is now surrounded by housing developments.
“The most important thing we do is carry on the legacy of the Hauser family, keeping all of that alive. That’s probably what drives us the most.”
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