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October is full of many high-pressure days that are due to fall harvest, family and school farm tours, and World Dairy Expo.
We have been harvesting corn silage and the fifth cutting of hay, and we are very happy to say that we have the bunkers full and covered. This is a huge undertaking when help is limited to pull tarp and toss tire sidewalls. We welcomed every pair of hands possible, including our herdsman’s children — ages 5-13 — who were very excited to help and exhausted by the end of the project. They were all smiling when they were greeted with cash. They all said “thank you” as they held the money, and I could see their minds were dreaming in anticipation of what they wanted to spend it on.
We welcome family and school tours in October; this includes a free pumpkin that is hand-harvested by the students or family members in our pumpkin patch. They are small and cute, just right to fit into a backpack, and perfect to bake into pumpkin pies, cookies, muffins or any of the other zillion things that are made from pumpkins this time of year. There are usually pumpkins left that will be hauled to the food pantries in the area, just in time for the Thanksgiving dinners when the rest of the corn and soybean harvest is finished, hopefully.
The beginning of the month is full of visitors from all over the world, wanting to see what is happening on a Wisconsin dairy farm or how the robots milk the cows, or else just looking at what is growing or ready to harvest in the fields.
Welcoming as many visitors as possible, we were arranging a few groups daily this week. We started off welcoming collegiate dairy students Sept. 30 with milk and cookies. After a brief introduction, I explained that they would all be together for only one week, and that these other students were their connections to the dairy industry throughout North America. I wanted them to mingle together, walk around the farm, ask questions and make friends. They came from all over the United States and Canada and thoroughly enjoyed the time to just be together on the farm and relax before another day of judging.
The week led into groups from Finland, an agricultural tourism group from Tennessee that had farmers from Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Georgia and throughout the southern United States. The next days were filled with groups from Ireland, Thailand, Brazil, Texas and the Netherlands.
Smack in the middle of it all, we were able to showcase our farm to other members of the Central Dairy Farmers of America Council with a fall picnic. I tried to plan it all ahead of time to make sure we had everything we needed to go right from a tour that ended at 3 p.m. to the council members showing up at 4 p.m. or so.
Darrell, my brother-in-law, has some of Dad’s old Oliver tractors in his collection, and he drove them over throughout the day to have an Oliver display. These rare Olivers are yellow, industrial tractors that helped make great conversation while we were visiting each other during the party.
Kevin, my son-in-law, got out of work early and pulled out our old Ford Fairlane, the Ford 150 and his Ford Falcon, and arranged everything to greet the council guests as they pulled into the driveway. Taking them out of the shed also gave us more room for tables at which to eat, relax and share stories.
The plan was to have a big cheese board and crackers to snack on while we made some of Wisconsin’s famous brandy old fashioneds and drank Spotted Cow beer. Unfortunately, I forgot to confirm that order, so once again, Kevin picked up a couple cheese plates and crackers just as the food arrived from the local caterer.
There was plenty of food, drinks, music, ice cream and wonderful conversations. We gave a tour of the farm and went into the barn, talked cows and robots, and shared more stories about our families, our farms and our love for what we all do. We are all dairy farmers, and our world seems to be getting smaller — until we all gather together. It felt like an enchanted evening in the warm October air as the sun went down. It was hard to say goodbye at the end of the night. We all wished each other a safe harvest and will be looking forward to the next time together at a meeting.
Whew, this week was filled with so many dairy farmers. I am so happy to have been able to welcome them to our farm and also Wisconsin. I am certain this was a big week for all of them, and I am lucky to have been able to share our family story with all of them. Many of these farmers have robots and are able to come to World Dairy Expo because robots allow for traveling. I have received many invites to visit these farmers in their home countries where they would love to welcome us to see and share their stories of their farm. They all commented, “You have robots, so now you can travel too.” My reply was always, “I hope to see you someday soon.”
Tina Hinchley, her husband Duane and daughter Anna milk 240 registered Holsteins with robots. They also farm 2,300 acres of crops near Cambridge, Wisconsin. The Hinchleys have been hosting farm tours for over 25 years.

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