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

Sebraneks hosting breakfast for third time

Larry and Judy hosted twice, but now it's Rob and Denise's turn
This banner in front of La Sebra Farms sums it all up. The breakfast is set for June 10, with serving from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RON JOHNSON
This banner in front of La Sebra Farms sums it all up. The breakfast is set for June 10, with serving from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.<br /><!-- 1upcrlf -->PHOTO BY RON JOHNSON

By By Ron Johnson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

LONE ROCK, Wis. - When it comes to hosting June Dairy Month breakfast, the Sebraneks are seasoned veterans.
Rob and his wife, Denise, are opening their farm near Lone Rock, Wis., for this year's Richland County breakfast, June 10. But Rob's parents - Larry and Judy - hosted the breakfast twice, in 2001 and 1988.
Both years are memorable for other reasons, too. Great Britain's hoof-and-mouth disease outbreak occurred in 2001, just before the dairy breakfast. And 1988, of course, is remembered as the "drought year."
This year's breakfast will let visitors - some 3,000 to 4,000 of them - see what La Sebra Farms looks like 11 years after hosting its most-recent breakfast. Coincidentally, Rob and Denise will have been married 11 years this Sept. 1.
What's more, they formed a limited-liability corporation (LLC) with Larry and Judy 11 years ago. On Jan. 1 of last year, the younger couple bought out the rest of the rest of the LLC. Rob and Denise now own the cattle and machinery and are buying shares of the land partnership.
It's an arrangement that has worked well, according to Rob, and he acknowledges his parents' help.
"Mom and Dad started us. We wouldn't be farming if it wasn't for them," he said.
"With costs the way they are, it's hard for the kid - the couple - who want to farm to get started," Rob added. "If Mom and Dad hadn't eased us into it, who's to say if I'd be farming? You need someone who has the time and patience to work with you."
La Sebra Farms has 310 cows, with about 260 milking at any particular time. They're milked three times a day in a double-eight parallel parlor. The herd isn't on test, but Rob said the somatic cell count (SCC) check has that at 170,000, and the butterfat at 3.7 percent and the protein at 2.9 to 3 percent.
The farm consists of 600 acres owned and 450 rented. The Sebraneks grow corn, alfalfa, soybeans and wheat.
Four full-time and two part-time employees - whom Rob speaks of as "farm team members" - help get all the work done. "We have great employees and everyone gets along well," Rob said.
Larry and Judy live nearby and are valuable members of the workforce. Judy and Denise take turns feeding calves, one handling the morning feeding and the other taking the afternoon shift. In addition, Judy fixes lunch for everyone when fieldwork is going on. Larry helps wherever he's needed at the time, said Rob.
Denise keeps all the farm account books and handles the payroll. She also works in nearby Richland Center two days a week. Denise has been a cosmetologist 23 years and is with De Anne's Designs.
"I like the farm, but it's a little get-away for me, for just a couple of days a week," Denise said.
When Denise is away, her mother-in-law watches Rob and Denise's daughters if they're not in school. Kylee is nine; Kortney is seven; and Kaitlyn is four.
Rob grew up on this farm. The children are the fifth generation of Sebraneks on it.
Asked why he wanted to farm, Rob said, "I enjoy the cattle and the fieldwork. Being outside is the biggest thing. I can't be inside."
Acting on his father's advice, Rob worked off the farm and attended technical college after high school. Working at a seed farm and for a concrete company reinforced his desire to farm.
He mentioned three reasons for enjoying being a dairy and crop farmer: being his "own boss," making his own decisions, and "being able to work with my family. I get to see my wife (during the day), whether she wants to see me or not," he said, smiling.
Denise grew up on a 150-cow registered Holstein farm a dozen or so miles away. You've heard about farm girls who swore they would never marry farmers?
"That was me," Denise said with a laugh. "Isn't that the funniest thing?" But then she met Rob and told herself, "This is going to be okay."
La Sebra Farms, like most, has changed over the years. When Rob was growing up, 60 cows were milked in a tiestall barn. That barn burned in 1993, and the next year, the family milked in a 90-stall freestall barn.
What was originally built as a compost barn now houses dry cows on a bedding pack. Shavings got to be expensive, costing $3,000 a month, Rob said. As a result, the milking herd now uses 70 sand-bedded freestalls that once had the dry cows in them.
The Sebraneks built a lane connecting that barn to the milking parlor. The cows stroll back and forth three times a day.
"Every few years, we just added," Rob said. "Now, even at 260 cows, that's crowded."
Rob said he doesn't know whether the farm will stay at its present size or will grow again. He would like to farm some ground closer to home. As it is, machinery must travel as far as 30 miles, to the other side of Richland Center.
Hosting the June Dairy Month breakfast is a way for the Sebraneks to show and tell nonfarm people a little bit of what modern dairying is all about. Rob and Denise do that at other times, too.
La Sebra Farms gives tours to preschoolers from throughout the area. Of course, they want to know where milk comes from. Naturally, they also want to know what cows eat.
Rob shows and tells them, trying to explain that "This feed doesn't' just show up." Instead, seeds must be planted and tended; the plants must be harvested and stored; and then the feed must be brought to the cows.
"I explain that farmers take good care of their cattle," said Rob. "The few bad things that have happened (on dairy farms) should not overshadow the 99 percent of farmers who do a good job."
Nonfarm adults who visit are also "amazed" by all the details of running a dairy operation. Most people, Rob and Denise said, don't know what machinery costs, or understand how much of an investment farmers have in their businesses.
Rob and Denise hope their many breakfast guests will gain a better understanding of "where their food comes from. So much publicity is negative toward agriculture. People need to come out and see what it's really like. They'll see that farmers love what they do and take good care of the land and their cattle."
The 32nd Annual Richland County June Dairy Breakfast runs from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 10. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children.
To get to the Sebranek farm, take Highway 14 to Gotham. Then take County Road JJ north to Highway 130. Go west on Highway 130, about 2.5 miles.
Or, park at the Southwest Family Care Alliance, 28526, Hwy. 14, three miles east of Richland Center. Buses will shuttle back and forth to the farm.
Besides breakfast, organizer Annette Louis and the Richland County Farm Women have arranged for a display of vintage tractors, face painting for the children, and other activities. In addition, Rob and Denise invite visitors to tour the barn and watch the end of the first milking and the start of the second one.
Denise said they've already ordered the weather for June 10: sunshine, a slight breeze, and a blue sky devoid of clouds. Rob added that he has asked for a dust-settling half inch of rain two days before the breakfast.
"Come on out and see the reality of farming," Rob said. "I like to think we represent the 99 percent of good farmers."[[In-content Ad]]


You must login to comment.

Top Stories

Today's Edition



27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

To Submit an Event Sign in first

Today's Events

No calendar events have been scheduled for today.