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

Women in Jeans : Denise Baumgarten

Tomah, Wis.
Monroe County
50 cows

Family: My husband, Gene, and I have four children: Gina, 36, Rory, 32, Neil, 30, and Cody, 26, and three grandchildren. Our daughter and husband, Tony Noth, have three girls: Marah, 7, Chloe, 5, and Sophie, 1.

Tell us about your farm. We own the dairy farm that my husband grew up on with 120 head of cattle; 50 Holstein milk cows with the rest being calves and heifers and also have 500 acres; 160 corn, 80 beans, 140 alfalfa, 40 pasture and 80 wooded. I also have a seed sales business, which I have done for 20 years which includes Renk, Dekalb, and more recently Croplan, Syngenta and Mycogen through United Co-op.

What's the busiest time of day for you? Everyday is busy and as you get older, the days get busier (I think you get slower so it takes longer), but it does vary from day-to-day. Springtime is the busiest time of year, I'd say. You have the cattle to take care of daily and you also have to get your new crops in and sprayed timely. There is also delivery of seed and servicing your customers so they are able to get their crops in on time.

How much time do you spend doing farm work compared to housework? I probably spend 90 percent of my time doing farm related things compared to housework. Doing farm work is much more fun and rewarding than doing housework.

What do you do in your free time and why? We love spending time with our family and friends. We are very blessed that our grandchildren live so close to us and we get to see them often. We have a lot of sleepovers and have a lot of fun. We also love to ride motorcycle and usually take one trip in the summer with friends and take as many local area rides that we can. In the winter, we are fortunate to be able to take one short vacation with friends, too.

What's the best thing about farming? I think the best thing about farming is being self-employed. You usually can do the things you want with your family, you just might have to do a little juggling around to make things work.

When you look back on your life, what do you want to be remembered for? Having a great family. All my children have a great work ethic that I am very proud of and have had many accomplishments in their adult lives. The other thing I want to be remembered for is being the corn lady. Over the years, in selling seed, I have helped a lot of farmers with crop production by being honest with them and being there when they need something. I have developed relationships with them that mean a lot to me.

Do you have any ideas that could make farming easier for you and all farming women? "Don't bite off more than you can chew." I firmly believe each woman needs to set her own priorities to what is the most important thing in her life, second important, etc. and stick to it. You will be happier with yourself and everything else will fall into place.

Tell us your most memorable experience while dairy farming. Years ago, we used to haul hay bales in an old spreader to another farm to feed our heifers. One would drive the tractor while the other would throw the bales off. One day, Gene had to go back to the farm before we finished and I told him I could just finish it. Needless to say, I had trouble. This one heifer kept bumping the spreader and no matter what side I was on, so was the heifer. I tried jumping off to go to the tractor and there was that heifer. Finally, I just threw all the hay bales off and ran from tree to tree till I got under the electric fence and ran home. I was so scared. After about the second bump, I knew why I was having so much trouble. And yes, you guessed it. It wasn't a heifer after all. It was a bull that Gene had taken over the day before, but forgot to mention it. Never offered to do that again alone.
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