Getting out of the Haus
County Executive Steve Neuhaus never really has a set schedule. He oversees 38 county departments—from human rights, to finance, to emergency services—and is constantly being pulled in different directions to tend to their needs. One moment, he’s off talking about the airport or public safety. The next, he’s speaking at a Junior ROTC dinner, or making a guest appearance at Chester Elementary to teach kids about beekeeping. “That’s what’s great about the job—it’s all over the county, all the time, dealing with all different issues,” explains Neuhaus. There are no days off, but things do slow down a little with a Sunday trip to the family farm. “It’s where I grew up as a kid and I loved it,” says Neuhaus. “And my kids seem to be doing the same thing.”
NO ALARM NEEDED We have four kids, so they wake you up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning.
SUNDAY SIDE UP I grew up on a big farm in Chester, and every Sunday, as long as I’m not away for the military or something’s going on, I have breakfast there with my entire family.
EGG HUNT We use our own eggs. It becomes a crisis in the winter sometimes because the chickens lay less. You literally go out in pajamas to find them.
GETTING FISHY As soon as we’re done with breakfast we go out and do some fishing, the kids and I. We set minnow traps and have all sorts of creatures in there: crayfish, minnows, you name it. We stock the pond. It’s good for my kids because can they goof off and not really know what they’re doing and still catch stuff.
O.C. EXPLORER We spend a lot of time exploring and hiking on the farm. We have trail cameras set up, so the kids and I will check them to see all kinds of creatures that have been passing by: coyotes, bears, deer, foxes, squirrels, rabbits.
BACK TO BUSINESS Usually everyone breaks from there: the girls have softball, we have to care for the animals, do some maintenance.
ZOOHAUS My wife and I live in the village of Chester, and we have a couple of honeybee hives there, six hens and a rooster. At the family farm I grew up on, that’s where we have 50 chickens and some geese and things like that. And the pony, the donkey, and beef cattle. The donkey and the pony, they keep each other company. His name is Chuckie. Sydney is the pony, Chuckie’s her buddy.
BUSY-BEES My wife and I were struggling gardeners when we first got married over ten years ago, and then I got honeybees. Now, everything is just growing out of control—so much so that the raspberries sometimes will rot on the vine because there’s so many of them.
DON’T TELL YOGI I’ve never had a problem with bears. I’ll probably jinx myself for this year. Every other beekeeper around has had a problem with them. I don’t keep electric wires or anything like that. I try to let them be as organic as they can as possibly be. We started a thing called “Bee 911” last year. Every town and village in the county has beekeepers on call that will come to your house and take the swarm away. Bees are really struggling, and like Einstein said, when bees leave the Earth, a few years later so will everything else.
MEAT UP We try to do a big family dinner Sunday night as well. My parents are both off the boat from Germany, so my mom usually will make some type of big, hearty, German meal with a roast and spaetzle. If you asked me right now, “Have you ever had a meal where you just sat down and had a giant garden salad?” No.
HIT THE BOOKS I’m working on a master’s in national security studies with the Navy War College. So, if I’m out at an event I try to get home by 9 o’clock at night, and I’m up until about 12:30, 1 o’clock in the morning. It involves a lot of book reading and paper writing. If I’m not doing that, I might be doing county or political stuff: strategizing, looking at the next big thing. If I have a day of events the next day, I like to look at my schedule. I’m old school, I like to physically read on paper.