The Reisingers cut the scraps from the logging into firewood, which provides another avenue of income from the lumber. They also sell the lumber from their woodland. 
The Reisingers cut the scraps from the logging into firewood, which provides another avenue of income from the lumber. They also sell the lumber from their woodland. PHOTO SUBMITTED
    SPRING GREEN, Wis. – With the depressed milk prices dairy farmers have been dealing with for nearly five years, many are seeking ways to help diversify their dairy farms and add areas for potential additional income.
    Jim and Jean Reisinger are no different. Since purchasing their family farm, the couple has looked to their wooded land to help provide additional income that has at times enriched their farming operation and at other times been a lifeblood for the dairy farm, initially homestead by Jim’s grandpa in 1909.
    The Reisingers milk about 50 cows on their farm on their fifth-generation dairy farm near Spring Green, Wis. They raise their own replacements and custom-raise heifers for another dairy producer, allowing them to capitalize on what would be an otherwise unused facility on their farm. They crop about 320 acres, both owned and rented, raising corn, soybeans and hay, to feed their herd and the heifers they raise.
    “Logging has allowed us to stay out of debt,” Jean said “It’s another area of diversification for our farm. It’s a matter of being innovative about how you are going to approach the time of less income.”
    The Reisingers view the lumber that grows on their family’s farm as another crop that is available to them to harvest. Lumber can be harvested approximately every 25 years, and the Reisingers have managed the woodlands on their farm to allow them to harvest several crops.
    “We actually have more wooded land on the farm than we do cropland,” Jean said. “We are truly located in God’s country.”
    Over the years, the Reisingers have worked with several loggers to market their timber, and have logged small sections of their farm periodically since purchasing the farm. They have sold it in several ways, with good and bad experiences during the process.
    “The first time we sold lumber, the logger did a clear cut,” Jim said. “He made a mess, it wasn’t a good experience.”
    For the most recent logging, the couple worked with a part-time logger who put the cut lumber out for bids several times and worked on a percentage basis with the Reisingers.
    Mature trees were marked to be harvested by the logger, leaving the smaller trees to continue to grow to make the next crop of lumber for a future harvest.
    “He was really selective of what was ready be harvested,” Jim said. “He only cut trees that were bigger than a bear hug.”
    The most recently logged area had suffered a fire about 35 years ago. There was concern there might be residual damage to the trees. Fortunately for the Reisingers, that was not the case and the quality of the trees harvested was high.
    “We weren’t unhappy,” Jean said. “From the time he gave us an estimate until the lumber was sold, the price of lumber went up. The final total for the sale of the lumber was about four or five times what we were expecting.”
    The Reisingers’ wooded land is comprised of a great deal of oak. The presence of oak wilt in their area is a concern in terms of the health of their timber, and the future income potential in the woods. According to the Reisingers, managing the woodlands and harvesting mature trees helps keep the forest healthy and the undergrowth at a minimum.
    “This was the optimal time to harvest this section of woodland with the presence of oak wilt in the area,” Jim said.
    Besides the money made from selling the lumber, the Reisingers retain the scrap lumber, which they cut into firewood for personal use and to sell to those who come to their area of the state to camp. This creates an additional income source from the farm’s woodland. They have also bartered the firewood in exchange for other payments.
    “Instead of donations to the church, we gave the pastor enough firewood for the winter,” Jean said. “It’s just kind of a little highlight of whatever you can do, the ways you can make things work.”
    The Reisingers’ most recent sale of lumber is the last area of their farm they will log for a few years. They want to allow time for the remaining trees to mature and for new growth to establish.
    “Our goal is to be self-sufficient, and to continue to be a family farm,” Jean said. “The diversification of income that the lumber provides helps us stay that way.”