September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Viroqua, Wis.; Vernon County; 45 cows
How did you get started farming? I started building my own herd when I was 18, working on a local dairy farm. I started milking and doing chores and ended up becoming a herdsman. I went to the University of Wisconsin Short Course and got certified in dairy science. I joined the Army National Guard when I was 17 and have been in it seven years. I went on one tour of Iraq. While I was gone, Kassandra took care of the cows. When I got home, we bought a farm and started milking.
Please describe your farm. We have 70 acres here and run about 120 tillable and around 120 acres of pasture. We milk Holsteins that are averaging about 60 pounds of milk a day. We've been farming here a little over a year. Before that, we rented a dairy farm.
Why did you want to farm? We had a 50-acre hobby farm and raised chickens, steers and pigs. My grandpa had a big, 400-acre dairy farm down by Livingston, Wis., where they milked 80 cows. I spent a lot of summers out there when I was a kid.
When did you know you wanted to farm? I've always had the interest. In kindergarten, I used to draw pictures of tractors and things like that.
What's your favorite farm job? Mine is probably milking. Machinery's too much of a headache; I'm always fixing it. I enjoy watching the cows and seeing our progress with the genetics. My favorite time is right before milking, when I see their udders blossoming full of milk. Kassandra's favorite job is raising the calves. We both know how to breed cows and she has a red heifer she raised from a calf and bred herself. She's due in February, so we're excited about that.
What are some of your goals? Our goals are to keep the registered Holsteins going and get to right around 100 milking. Right now, about 75 percent of the herd is registered. Our prefix is Great Giant Holsteins. We want big Holsteins that are going to look awesome.
What's your biggest challenge? Financing is probably the biggest - getting started and becoming financially established. It's such an enormous debtload.
What are your plans for the next five years? We'd like to move into a larger facility or add onto this one.
What are some of the other activities you enjoy? We get pretty big into deer hunting. We're up at four in the morning to milk and get into the woods. We both go hunting and try to shoot only the bigger deer. Kassandra missed a buck opening morning. We both bow hunt, too. One day while bow hunting, I had four different bucks go past me. We also do some fishing on the Mississippi River and at Sidie Hollow.
What are your plans for Christmas? We'll spend time with the family. We have family at Eau Claire and in the Belmont/Montfort area. I think this year we'll have some Christmas time with Kassandra's mom here.
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