At 9:15 a.m., Jed Gasser dry treats a cow after milking. The Gassers dried up seven cows Sept. 2.
PHOTO BY STACEY SMART
At 9:15 a.m., Jed Gasser dry treats a cow after milking. The Gassers dried up seven cows Sept. 2. PHOTO BY STACEY SMART
    BELGIUM, Wis. – The Gasser brothers had one main goal in mind for Sept. 2 – finish chopping fourth-crop hay in plenty of time before Jed’s wedding on the farm Sept. 18. The weather cooperated, delivering sunshine and temperatures in the mid-70s. And by the end of the day, the Gassers had come close to accomplishing what they set out to do.
    “We planned our crops around my brother’s wedding because we wanted to be done chopping beforehand,” Luke Gasser said. “We took third crop early at 24 days, but normally, we cut at 28-30 days. It was short but good quality. Our fourth crop is looking good, and once we finish that, we’ll be done with hay for the year and will start corn silage.”
    The Gassers chop the majority of their 260 acres of hay and also do a little baling. They plan to bale one field the week before the wedding so it can be used as a parking lot. Gasser said he was not ruling out a fifth crop of hay if they have the opportunity.
    Luke, Max and Jed farm with their parents, Dan and Lucy, near Belgium. The family milks 220 cows and crops 850 acres of corn, soybean, alfalfa and winter wheat. The brothers are the third generation on the farm which was purchased by their grandpa in the 1950s from the couple he worked for. Lucy helps babysit the grandchildren and also takes care of the farm’s books.
    “There are four families on this farm, and for our size, we maybe don’t have enough cows, but we don’t want to milk more,” Gasser said. “At this number, we have the ability to do all the work ourselves, and we have plenty of land to feed our cattle. At the end of the day, it’s us three brothers, and if we had to, we could do it without any employees.”
    The trio works alongside each other daily, and Sept. 2 was no exception. Chores began at 5:30 a.m. as the siblings milked cows, cleaned barns, spread manure and fed calves, cows and youngstock.
    “We don’t have a manure pit so we haul about three loads of manure per day,” Gasser said. “Putting in a pit is probably going to be one of our next projects.”
    Luke came to help Jed finish up milking and push up cows around 8:15 a.m. Cows are milked twice a day in the double-8 parlor built by the Gassers. Purchased used at an auction, they originally installed a double-6 which they converted to a double-8 a few years ago.
    Jed dried up seven cows before milking wrapped up around 9:30. After milking, Luke washed down the parlor, and Jed and Max moved the newest dry cows to the dry cow barn. Lucy and 18-month-old Gordon pulled up in a golf cart around 10 a.m. while on their morning drive around the farm so Max could say hello to his son. At 10:10, the three brothers lined the bunker wall with a tarp before chopping so it would be all set to cover the haylage pile later on.
    Over 300 people are invited to Jed’s wedding which will be held in a large shed on the dairy. Lights have been strung and other decorations are starting to fill the space as the big day draws near.
    “We’re excited,” Gasser said. “We still need to clean up the yard and spruce things up a bit to make it look a little nicer when people enter the farm.”
    Max also got married on the farm in 2015 and will be officiating Jed’s wedding. Next June, the Gassers’ cousin, James, will get married on the farm as well. James helps with fieldwork and other farm chores when needed and was part of the crew that was chopping Sept. 2.  
    Luke is married to Emilie, and the couple has two children – Lillie, 9, and Chase, 7. Max and his wife, Olivia, are expecting their second child in December.   
    “Our wives and Jed’s fiancée, Nicole, work off the farm,” Gasser said. “It’s nice to have the extra income and insurance.”
     At 10:30 a.m., the Gassers took a break to eat and hold their daily team meeting. After enjoying a hearty breakfast, they started chopping at 11:15. The Gassers chopped hay for hours as seagulls from nearby Lake Michigan flooded the field looking for a free meal.
    At 3 p.m., Gasser switched to merging. After an hour and a half, Jed took over merging so Gasser could start chopping again. Their dad, their cousin, James, and their brother, Shane, ran loads so they could keep going. Part-time help took care of milking that evening starting at 4:30, so the Gassers could continue chopping. Max cleaned barns and pushed up feed between loads.
    “We try to surround ourselves with good people – from those who work for us to our agronomist, nutritionist, vet and breeder,” Gasser said. “We’re a close team. We work together, but we’re also friends. They’re all invited to Jed’s wedding.”
    A project is always in the works at Gasser Farms as they continue to improve facilities. After building a parlor in 2008, the family proceeded to expand, convert and add barns in the years that followed. They also built a deck for their mom and remodeled her kitchen.
    “When I started here in 2005, we just had the old stanchion barn for 42 cows and a small attached freestall barn,” Gasser said. “Practically every year since, we’ve had a big project going on as well as a lot of little things in between.”
    The Gassers’ handiwork can be seen throughout the farm as the family builds its own buildings and is also responsible for any improvements. With insight into concrete (their older brother, Jacob, works for a concrete company and Max did in the past), the Gassers are able to typically tackle 100% of the work themselves.
    This spring, they completely rebuilt their milkhouse to allow for more milk storage. After gutting the west half of their old barn, they put in a 5,000-gallon tank which replaced two tanks sized at 800 gallons and 1,000 gallons. The Gassers were on twice-a-day pickup before the expansion. Now, milk is picked up every other day.
    The Gassers chopped 120 acres at home Sept. 2 before heading to other fields further away that were getting dry.
    “We chopped until about 8:30 (p.m.),” Gasser said. “In total, we chopped just over 160 acres and will do the rest tomorrow. We’ll then have a short break before starting corn silage.”