March 26, 2022 at 8:35 p.m.

Dairying made simple

Wall milks 30 cows for three decades
Arthur Wall stands outside his barn March 8 near Eastman, Wisconsin. Wall milks 30 organic cows and has no plans to expand. PHOTO BY ABBY WIEDMEYER
Arthur Wall stands outside his barn March 8 near Eastman, Wisconsin. Wall milks 30 organic cows and has no plans to expand. PHOTO BY ABBY WIEDMEYER

By Abby [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

EASTMAN, Wis. – In an industry that seems to constantly be changing, Arthur Wall enjoys keeping his dairy simple.
“I’m glad I’m small,” Wall said. “I don’t want to milk 100 cows. Then, that’s all you’re ever doing is farming, farming, farming. To me, there’s more to life than being on the farm 24/7.”
Wall milks 30 cows in a stanchion barn near Eastman in Crawford County. Wall took over the farm from his parents in 1990. He purchased the cattle and machinery then saved enough money to buy the farm which he purchased in 2005.
Wall said starting out this way has allowed him to remain small.
“I didn’t jump in with big expenses where I was looking at a $2,000 to $3,000 payment every month,” Wall said. “I don’t push my cows, and I have low feed cost.”
Wall farmed conventionally until 2008 when he transitioned to organic. For Wall, the price is less volatile, and he saves on feed costs by grazing.
“Once we start grazing in May, the cows are out all day and night,” Wall said. “They’re in the barn only to milk, and you only have to haul manure maybe every 10 days.”
 This management style also allows Wall time to pursue other interests off the farm such as fishing and hunting. About five years ago, Wall started taking a trip every year with two of his brothers. The first year, they went fishing with a charter boat on Lake Michigan, an opportunity that arose from the farm.
“We had guys who turkey hunted here who had a fishing boat on Lake Michigan, so they took us out for nothing,” Wall said. “They’re the nicest people I’ve ever met. We caught about five or six salmon and trout.”
In past years, the brothers also went to Dubuque, Iowa, for a hockey game and Milwaukee for a concert. Last month, they attended a University of Wisconsin Badger basketball game against Penn State.
Before long, Wall and his son, Derek, are going to Missouri to fish for paddlefish.
Wall’s wife, Carol, works off the farm and periodically takes weekends to visit with her sisters and their daughters, Felicia and Kelsey.
As a farmer, Wall enjoys the simplicity of the small farm. He begins his day around 6 a.m. when he might take a walk to the road if the weather allows, and then, he goes to the barn with the dog. He starts milking by 7:30 a.m. or so.
“We’re not in a big rush for anything unless we have somewhere to be early,” Wall said. “I used to start earlier, but I don’t do that now that I’m in my 50s.”
Milking goes quickly with a small herd, but the time in the barn is time Wall enjoys.
“I got my radio on down there,” Wall said. “I just love music. It gets me through the day. I get a lot of thinking done, and milking goes really fast. It’s relaxing to me.”
Wall’s son, Nick, is a high school teacher, part-time chiropractor and also helps make hay when needed. Derek started helping on the farm in 2015 after studying dairy herd management at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College.
“He comes up with ideas on what to do for the cows,” Wall said.
Derek also runs a custom round baling and wrapping business. He mainly serves neighbors who do not own a round baler or others who have a breakdown and need help finishing a job.
Wall said Derek might eventually take over the farm, but he is not ready to hang his hat up just yet.
“I’d like to farm another 10-15 years if I can,” Wall said. “I’m healthy enough, and my knees are fine. And, I don’t have that many bills anymore.”
Wall said one of the biggest differences he sees in his years of farming is all the people starting out with many cows and land.
“Nowadays, you see a lot of young farmers get in after their parents milk 500 or 600 cows,” Wall said. … “But if you had to do everything yourself, all the chores and fieldwork, it’s better to start small. If you don’t like it, it’s a lot easier to sell out instead of having millions of dollars of machinery and cows and buildings to try and get somebody else to run.”
Even though he prefers small-scale farming, Wall marvels at how diverse a dairy community can be.
“You can have 10 guys on one ridge and they all farm differently,” Wall said. “They might sell to the same milk company, but they all have their own ideas and different sized herds. It’s amazing.”
Regardless of what the rest of the dairy industry is doing, Wall plans to continue farming the way that works for him for as long as he can. After all, it is what he enjoys.
“I love farming because it’s like everybody says, it’s something different every day besides the milking,” Wall said. “You’re outside doing something all the time. I like the difference.”


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