Sunday, December 10, 2017
Human Interest

All Eyes photo gallery: Hillsborough County's last dairy farm moves on

The 160 cows were milked and corralled into four 18-wheelers before the morning light struck the fifth-generation Florida dairy farm. As it traveled north on Interstate 75 — passing one-time farmland that had long ago given way to houses, offices shopping malls — the bovine caravan marked the departure of the last operating dairy in Hillsborough County.

"I really wanted to make it work," said the dairy owner Samuel "Sammy" Busciglio. "They offered them so much money they couldn't afford not to sell it."

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio pauses for a breath in the old dairy parlor at Tower Dairy on February 8, 2017. After Jeff and his father Sammy Busciglio built a new milking parlor, this space became a garden. When they learned that they would have to move the farm the garden fell into disrepair.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

After cleaning the teats with an iodine solution, Jeff Busciglio attaches the milking machine, at Tower Dairy in Tampa, Florida, on February 8, 2017. The machine uses suction to pull the milk into a cooling tank.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio's eldest son, Alex Busciglio, 9, looks into his cow's eyes before showing at the Florida Strawberry Festival on March 4, 2017, in Plant City, Florida.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The milking machines use suction to pull the milk through tubing into a cooling tank. Jeff Busciglio watches the milk levels using this glass gauge to tell when each cow is done milking, photographed at Tower Dairy in Tampa, Florida on March 7, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio grooms a Holstein calf before a 4H and Future Farmers of America dairy cow showing at the Florida Strawberry Festival on March 4, 2017, in Plant City, Florida.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Alex Busciglio, 9, and Dominic Busciglio, 5, pose for a photo taken by their mom, Jana Busciglio, after showing Holstein calves at the Florida Strawberry Festival on March 4, 2017, in Plant City, Florida.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio looks back into the milking parlor during an overnight milking at Tower Dairy, on March 7, 2017, in Tampa, Florida. Dairy cows have to be milked twice a day, 12 hours apart. Depending on other tasks, like mixing feed, Jeff would arrive at the farm just after 1 am, to start milking the 160 cows promptly at 2 am. When working alone the milking process took Jeff about four and a half hours.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio (center) pushes a neighbor's stalled truck past the fence line, with the help of one of his farmhands, at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida on March 23, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio takes a break from work at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida to answer a phone call on March 23, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The nearly 250 acres of Busciglio family farm land, as seen from the air on March 24, 2017. Tower Dairy is less than 10 miles from downtown Tampa and the last dairy farm in Hillsborough County, Florida. Although the farm used to be at the end of a dirt road, development has closed in on the property. "They offered them so much money they couldn't afford not to sell it, " Sammy Busciglio said.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The nearly 250 acres of Busciglio family farm land, as seen from the air on March 24, 2017. Tower Dairy is less than 10 miles from downtown Tampa and the last dairy farm in Hillsborough County, Florida. Although the farm used to be at the end of a dirt road, development has closed in on the property. "They offered them so much money they couldn't afford not to sell it, " Sammy Busciglio said.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The nearly 250 acres of Busciglio family farm land, as seen from the air on March 24, 2017. Tower Dairy is less than 10 miles from downtown Tampa and the last dairy farm in Hillsborough County, Florida. Although the farm used to be at the end of a dirt road, development has closed in on the property. "They offered them so much money they couldn't afford not to sell it, " Sammy Busciglio said.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio drives a truck loaded with feed troughs, calf pins and bales of hay north on I-75 from Tampa to the new farmland in Gay, Georgia, on March 27, 2017. The new property is 270 acres, and the family hopes to expand their herd.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio takes a break from work at Tower Dairy Number 1, in Tampa, Florida, to play with his son Dominic Busciglio, 5, on March 24, 2017. Jeff's sons are growing up on the farm much like he and his brother, Jason Busciglio.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Alex Busciglio, 9, lays in the calf pin at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida, on March 24, 2017. Alex and his brother Dominic, 5, love spending time on the farm, calling the cows "Moo-Moo's," and riding in the Bobcat with their dad, Jeff.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

(left to right) Jana Busciglio, Jeff Busciglio, Dominic Busciglio, 5, and Alex Busciglio, 9, wrap up the day's work at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida, before heading to dinner on March 24, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Spiderwebs coat work tools in the shop at Tower Dairy , on March 26, 2017. The tool-filled shop is in an original barn built by Sammy Busciglio's father Joe, over 60 years ago. The dairy existed at its 78th Street location in Tampa since it was founded in 1950.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Dominic Busciglio, 5, plays with his "Tia," Samantha Busciglio-Payne, on the last day the cows were at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida, on March 26, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio hugs his daughter Samantha Busciglio-Payne, on March 26, 2017, at Tower Dairy in Tampa, Florida, during a brief break from loading feed troughs for the next day's move to Georgia.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Dairy farmer Sammy Busciglio walks through a pasture at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, on the last day the cows were on the farm before moving to Georgia, March 26, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff's son, Alex Busciglio, 9, writes a note for a time capsule that the Busciglio family hopes to leave buried somewhere on the Tower Dairy property in Tampa, on March 26, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Savannah Busciglio, Sammy Busciglio, and Samantha Busciglio-Payne ride on a tractor back to the barn at Tower Dairy, after taking a family portrait on March 26, 2017. Savannah and Samantha are Sammy's daughters. "I wish there was some way we could buy it," Sammy said, referencing the family property in Tampa. "We could make it a showcase place. We could make it a place where we could teach children where milk comes from."

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio (left of center), his two brothers and extended family toast to Tower Dairy and the Busciglio family with wine and Busch beer, on March 26, 2017, the day before the cows were moved to Georgia. Sammy's father Joe Busciglio loved to drink Busch beer. Although Jeff and Sammy own the dairy, the property was owned by a larger group of family who were ready to sell.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio hugs his son Alex Busciglio, 9, while his sister Samantha Busciglio-Payne, leans on this shoulder, after a family toast to Tower Dairy got emotional, on March 26, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff, Alex, 9, Jana and Dominic Busciglio, 5, walk up the hill towards the new dairy barn, after all the cows had been moved from Tampa to the property in Gay, Georgia, on March 27, 2017. It took four 18-wheelers to move the 160 cow herd. After arriving on the farm with the cows in tow, Jeff said, "I told ya it was nice."

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Alex, 9, Jana, and Dominic Busciglio, 5, look out at the cows running in the pasture at the new farm in Gay, Georgia on March 27, 2017. "Look at how free they are," Jana said.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio laughs at one of his grandsons after a long day of work at the new dairy farm in Gay, Georgia on March 27, 2017. When touring the new farmland Sammy said, "This is like a dream to me."

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio (right) talks with Chris Waters, the owner of the farm that Sam and Jeff moved too, after the first day of milking the cows in the new parlor, on March 27, 2017, in Gay, Georgia. Waters briefly ran a dairy as a side business but milk prices dropped too low and he had to shut down.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Alex, 9, Dominic, 5, and their mom Jana Busciglio ride in the back of a Gator utility vehicle on March 28, 2017, to tour the pastures at the new farm in Gay, Georgia. The boys collected pine cones and shimmering rocks; treasures unseen on their farm in Florida.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Alex, 9, Dominic, 5, and their mom Jana Busciglio ride in the back of a Gator utility vehicle on March 28, 2017, to tour the pastures at the new farm in Gay, Georgia. The boys collected pine cones and shimmering rocks; treasures unseen on their farm in Florida.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Jeff Busciglio helps his dad Sammy Busciglio up a steep hill, near a creek that forms the property line at the new 270 acre farm in Gay, Georgia, on March 28, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The house where Jeff Busciglio will move into with his wife and kids, in Gay, Georgia, photographed on March 28, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio shows off an old photograph on April 17, 2017, of himself, Henry Winkler and Jeff Busciglio, from the 1992 filming of "Cop and a Half," starring Burt Reynolds. The Busciglios provided a cow for one of the scenes.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

The old milking parlor at Tower Dairy in Tampa, after Jeff and Sammy Busciglio took the roof and salvaged other parts and pieces for use on their new farm in Georgia, photographed on April 17, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Cows hesitate to walk over an unfamiliar drainage grate into the new dairy parlor for the first milking at the new farm in Gay, Georgia on March 27, 2017.

            

MONICA HERNDON | Times

     

Sammy Busciglio looks through family photographs and memorabilia in the office at Tower Dairy, in Tampa, Florida on April 17, 2017.

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