How did you get into farming? Our family bought the farm in 1989. At first, we started with hogs. When the price of hogs fell, we sold out at some point in the 1990s.  After that, we were a beef farm and then custom raised heifers. In 2000, we decided to start milking instead of selling our heifers. We formed an LLC in 2012, and I finally bought the farm Jan. 1, 2019. I’ve always stuck with the farm and have always enjoyed it. I did take some time off the farm in between where I attended the UW-Madison Short Course, worked in construction, concrete and welding, but eventually, I gravitated back to the farm.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? Obviously milk price is the big picture. I think we need to find a way to control the market; not necessarily a quota but something. I feel like we are on the cusp of agriculture blowing up; as soon as the milk price improves, everyone will want more cows, and we will be back to where we were.

What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? It might not be a new technology, but intensive grazing has been the latest. We improved the trails, have run water throughout our pastures; it is the latest and greatest for me at least.

What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefited you? Again, intensive grazing. We are on 120 acres of low ground that we have struggled to plant and harvest for a long time. Essentially, we are at the bottom of a geological bowl where row crops have always been a struggle. Instead of fighting it, I decided to seed it all down with a pasture mix.

What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? Rotational grazing has solved a lot of my issues on the farm. I do not have much for feed storage and have limited labor. Adding grazing has been a huge cost saving in that regard. Every animal on my farm has access to pasture, which leads to a huge cut in feed, labor and fuel costs.

How do you retain a good working relationship with your employee(s)? I have a lot of part-time employees, which makes communication the key. I let them pick their schedules rather than having set hours. As long as they fill out the schedule and the schedule is full, I am happy.

Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Working off the farm for some time has been the biggest help for me. Having the ability to build or fix anything in a pinch is exceptionally beneficial. I am definitely mechanically inclined.

What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Working with animals and the land, but also the challenge. Farming keeps me sharp and tests my skills. I am constantly problem solving, and I love being challenged. It is a humbling career and keeps me in check. Dairy farming makes the good days a lot better.

What advice would you give other dairy farmers? Be willing to think outside the box. Take my farm for example: We have been conventional dairy farmers since the start. I wanted to try grazing and eventually hope to transition to organic, something that is uncommon in this area. Whether it is your practices or even row cropping, there are many ways to get nutrients in the ground and get your crops off in the fall. You don’t need to do things the way the neighbor does.

What has been the best purchase you’ve ever made on your farm? Grazing equipment. I really enjoy and love having it.

What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Transitioning from conventional to rotational grazing. I may have gone at it too fast; one year was a bit much, but it’s gone decent and has been a huge accomplishment for me.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? In the near future, I hope to become certified organic and continue grazing. In five years, I hope to transition all the animals to seasonal calving – preferably sooner rather than later.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? I enjoy spending time outdoors with my wife, Candice, and our three children, Elsa, 6, James Jr., 5, and Jaxtin, 3. The boys like fishing, and I enjoy hunting.