September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Jepsons welcome daughter back to dairy

23-year-old enjoys working with cattle, family
Roy Jepson was very happy to have his daughter, Annie, come back to the farm full-time. The father-daughter duo often milk cows together.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
Roy Jepson was very happy to have his daughter, Annie, come back to the farm full-time. The father-daughter duo often milk cows together.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE

By By Andrea Borgerding- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

BALSAM LAKE, Wis. - Out of his four children, Roy Jepson wasn't sure if the farming tradition was going to continue on with the fourth generation. But in 2009, he was pleasantly surprised when his daughter, Annie, showed interest.
"I was happy when she came back," Roy said. "She was the only one that wanted to."
The Jepsons, Roy and Lorna, milk 50 cows and raise 280 acres of corn and alfalfa on their farm near Balsam Lake, Wis. in Polk County. They have four grown children: Royce (26); Emily (25); Annie (23) and Mollie (19). Their daughter, Annie, has become a part of the dairy operation and has purchased her own cows.
"I've always loved working with the cows," Annie said. "They are like my babies."
In the spring of 2009, Annie was attending technical school for medical assisting. But while she enjoyed high school, she was unhappy with technical school. Annie was already working part time on the farm while attending school. So she decided to return full time.
"I just would rather have been here working than at school," Annie said.
Roy and Lorna welcomed her back.
"It was up to her on whether she wanted to come back," Lorna said. "I'm a firm believer that a person should be happy at what they are doing. No matter what."
With Annie's return, came a few changes around the family farm. Lorna had quit her job to help when their son, Royce, left the farm. When Annie returned full-time, Lorna took a job at a nearby feed mill to make room for Annie at the farm.
In the fall of 2009, Annie bought her own cows - seven Jerseys, two Holsteins and two red and white Holsteins.
"I was excited," Annie said about the purchase. "I finally had something of my own. It was a lot more work."
But Roy was already downsizing the herd and had changed a portion of the barn to make room for calves.
"I had a bunch of empty stalls," Roy said. "So I had part of the barn changed over to calf stalls. But when Annie bought her cows, I took those out and put stalls back in."
Annie now receives a milk check for a determined amount of pounds - a straight percentage across the board.
"It works out better this way because sometimes her cows aren't milking if they are dried off and other times they're milking a lot," Roy said. "She has to have something to live off of, too."
As part of the agreement, Roy also provides feed for her cows while Annie helps with labor in exchange. She unloads hay and corn during harvest.
Annie's younger sister, Mollie, also helps part time on the farm.
"It's really nice right now with Annie and Mollie here because if Roy needs to finish in the field, we can help milk," Lorna said. "He can stay doing whatever he is doing."
During milking, Annie will milk half the cows while Roy, Lorna or Mollie milk the other half. Annie also helps with feeding, bedding and cleaning the barn, which includes shoveling some gutters.
The Jepsons currently have a friendly breed debate in the barn. The Jepsons' herd is about half Jerseys, a quarter Holsteins and a quarter are crossbreeds.
"The girls and I like the Jerseys," Lorna said. "When we are alone, they are much easier to handle than those big Holsteins."
The Jepsons ship their milk to AMPI in Jim Falls.
Roy admits the last few years have been challenging with ongoing drought limiting their crop production. Finding hay to buy and having enough corn to feed is something the Jepsons have been dealing with together as a family.
Annie said she does get discouraged when dealing with the challenges of drought that comes with dairy farming. But she also knows she has family support.
"She likes to boss her dad around," Roy said with a smile
The Jepsons' plan is to continue dairy farming for as long as they can on the fourth generation dairy operation. For Annie, she is unsure what her future holds but she knows she is enjoying working with the cows and knows she is exactly where she should be.[[In-content Ad]]


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