Irish Blessing

May there always be work
for your hands to do;

May your purse always
hold a coin or two;

May the sun always shine
on your windowpane;

May a rainbow be certain
to follow each rain;

May the hand of a friend
always be near you;

May God fill your heart
with gladness to cheer you

Arizona Dairy Facts

Milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is processed into more than 1.5 billion pounds of butter, more than 9.7 billion pounds of cheese, more than 1.5 billion pounds of nonfat dry milk, and nearly 1.5 billion pounds of ice cream.

Dairy herds in the United States are quite diverse. The average dairy herd in the United States has about 128 cows. Arizona has the largest dairies, averaging approximately 2000 cows, followed by California, which averages 824 cows; the remaining top five include New Mexico with an average of 814 cows, Idaho with 684 cows, and Washington with 313 cows.

read more Arizona Dairy Facts...

History of Ponderovey

It started with Emil Rovey. Emil Rovey was born in 1916 on his parents’ 80-acre farm on the northeast corner of Bethany Home Road and what is now 19th Avenue in Glendale, just four years after Arizona celebrated statehood. Agriculture defined not only what Emil did, but also who he was.

It is probably safe to say that Emil inherited his passion for the land from his German grandfather whose motto was, “Grow more corn, to feed more pigs, to buy more land, to grow more corn…”, a philosophy Emil pretty much adopted as his own.

Emil’s father died in 1921, leaving the 5-year-old youngster with his mother, his three brothers, a younger sister, and the hired hand to keep the farm operating. They milked the cows by hand, hauled their milk to the creamery in 10-gallon cans and cultivated their crops with teams of horses and mules. He was connected to the land at an early age and would continue his involvement for the rest of his life.

Emil was always a hands-on farmer, doing whatever needed to be done – irrigating, milking cows, driving tractors, ordering water, paying employees, or scraping lanes after it had rained. But there was more to Emil besides agriculture. His life revolved around his church, his family, and then his farm. He was a pillar of Grace Lutheran Church in Glendale. Emil and his wife, Helen, had nine children, six boys and three girls.

By the time Emil graduated from Glendale High School in 1934 the country was beginning to pull out of the Great Depression. Because of the Depression, he did a fifth year of postgraduate work at Glendale High instead of going straight to college. Always involved with agriculture, he was a member of the Future Farmers of America, on the livestock judging team, took part in the public speaking contest and was a member of the citrus judging team. Emil applied and was accepted into the College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona in Tucson. In 1937, Emil, his younger brother Carl and a group of other financially strapped agriculture students got together and rented a house, bought and built furniture, hired a cook and started the cooperative Aggie House, which is still operating today, 71 years later. Every one of Emil’s children followed in his footsteps, going to the University of Arizona, living in the Aggie House.

Emil graduated with high distinction from the College of Agriculture. He was a member of Alpha Zeta, the honorary agricultural fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi, the honorary scholastic society. After graduation, he was hired by the University of Arizona Extension Service to become the State 4-H Club Leader. He traveled the state, meeting and encouraging young people, volunteers and 4-H faculty to “Make the Best Better”. He remained in that position for four years.

In 1941, Emil married Helen Louise Beck, whom he had met while attending the Lutheran church in Tucson. The union lasted until her death in 1982.

In 1943, Emil bought a 145-acre farm in Glendale from Roy Wolfe. Emil always said, “We moved in the front door and they went out the back. That night we started milking cows.” He continued to acquire nearby farmland as it became available throughout the 40s, 50s and into the 60s. During that period, he began his lifelong membership in the Glendale-Peoria Farm Bureau, and became a director on the Board for the Southwest Producers and Consumers Cooperative. Emil’s agricultural interests were broad. He helped organize the Co-op Dairy, a group of milk producers who later merged into the United Dairymen of Arizona in 1964. He was president of the American Dairy Association of Arizona from 1952 to 1959.

As if crop production and dairying weren’t enough, he got into the poultry business in the 1950s when he took the few chickens Helen kept in the backyard and grew them into a poultry operation with 24,000 hens at its peak. He served as president of the Central Arizona Poultry Association.

In 1957, he added ranching to his resume when he bought three ranches in the Bloody Basin area. He ranched the area for 16 years, but sold it not long after his child, Dan, was killed in a tragic accident while hauling cattle just weeks before he was to graduate from Glendale High School.

Emil loved the land and its bounties. He liked seeing cattle in the corrals; he smiled when looking at water running evenly between the borders irrigating an alfalfa field; he took pride in seeing young cotton plants or corn emerge from the brown earth. And, he planted palm trees to separate fields because he liked the way they looked.

Emil was honored as the Man of the Year in Arizona Agriculture by the state Future Farmers of America in 1958, the same year he was elected to the Salt River Project Council. He served on the Council until 1995 when he became a member of the SRP Board of Directors. He spent nearly 40 years helping to guide SRP to provide its customers with the highest quality electricity and water services.

With all of his accomplishments, probably the one thing Emil was most proud of was his long-standing friendship with a group of international students from Scandinavia. It started in 1954 when two Danish brothers knocked on his office door looking for work. Over the next 30 years approximately 200 international students found employment at Rovey’s farm to learn American farming methods. The bulk of the students came from Denmark, so many in fact that there is a Rovey Society in Denmark where alumni get together and hold picnics and talk farming.

Following Helen’s death, Emil married a longtime friend and widow, Ruth Block Haertel, with whom he enjoyed traveling in this country and abroad for fifteen years. Many of their trips took them to Denmark and the Scandinavian countries to visit their “Danish boys”. By then, some of the Danish boys' children, a second generation of Danes, had worked on the farm in Glendale.

A big man with a big heart and ready smile, Emil M. Rovey, died peacefully while taking an afternoon nap at the family home in 1998.

Today, his family continues his tradition of serving their community and their industry.


Emil and brothers Art, Arnold and Carl, 1920

Cows on pasture, 1943

When dad bought the dairy, it was all Jerseys. 1956, he was converting it from Jerseys to Holsteins. When I bought the dairy, we converted back to Jerseys!

Emil by the cactus flower bed at our house, 1968

Cows on pasture with our homeplace in the background, 1969

Emil in one of our corrals, 1970

Emil at our ranch in the Bloody Basin, central Arizona, 1970’s

My dad, Emil, irrigating, 1979

Emil planting palm trees, 1993

Dad (Emil) stealing milk from one of our tanks, 1996

Paul in 1958

Paul and Emil, 1998. I had been on the UDIA Board for 7 years at this time

Emil and the grain combine, 1951

Milk marketing, 1954

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