Wendy Schmidt claims a fondness for daylilies, particularly the Stella d’Oro variety that is known for long-lasting blooms.
Wendy Schmidt claims a fondness for daylilies, particularly the Stella d’Oro variety that is known for long-lasting blooms. PHOTO BY DANIELLE NAUMAN
    BLOOMER, Wis. – Jon and Wendy Schmidt appreciate things of beauty. Whether it is the brightly colored flowers that adorn the neatly-kept farmstead, or the beautiful Jerseys grazing contentedly in the pasture, the fruits of their labors are easily visible.
    The Schmidts milk 40 head of registered Jerseys on their picturesque farm, Woodmohr Jerseys, near Bloomer, Wis. The herd of little brown bovines accent and compliment their surroundings, working together to create rural Wisconsin curb appeal for the Chippewa County farm.
    Wendy’s love of gardening blossomed while she worked at a local greenhouse and nursery.
    “I’d never done much gardening of any kind before,” Wendy said. “I’d never really owned my own place.”
     During that time, she purchased her farm in 1994, and started establishing her small, but impressive, herd of cows.
     “When I came here, there was no landscaping of any sort,” Wendy said. “It was pretty much a blank slate. Working at the greenhouse, I learned about the different kinds of perennials, the seasons things grow best in, how to take care of them.”
    Learning as she worked at the greenhouse, Wendy began to bring home plants from work, taking advantage of employee discounts.
    “I started small, and just kept adding over time,” Wendy said. “It took me about 10 years to get from where I started to where I had things how I wanted them. I’m more at a maintenance point right now. I’m not adding anything new these days; I’m just taking care of what I’ve done.”
    All the flower beds on the farm are perennial beds. She lists daylilies as being among her favorites, particularly the Stella d’Oro variety, which flowers for a long time. The only annuals she plants are in pots and containers around the farm.  
    “I don’t have certain colors of perennials I like, but the annuals I plant are typically reds and yellows,” Wendy said.
    Over the years Wendy has tried different techniques in her gardens, including collecting junque pieces for accents and herb gardening.
    “When I grew herbs, I had wooden spoons in the garden, marking the types of plants,” Wendy said. “I’ve collected a lot of flower and herb books over the years. I learned how to use the herbs, cooking with them, making teas and infusions.”
    Wendy describes her flower beds as rock gardens, and they feature a variety of rocks she has located and brought home.
    “Every rock out there, I’ve hauled here,” Wendy said. “I used to drive around and know where every rock pile was. I picked rocks from fields growing up, and I never thought I would be hauling rocks home.”
    Wendy said her beds are informal, and she allows them to have a very natural feel and flow, using curved edges. She has varied the plants, shrubs and rocks to create texture, depth and dimension in the beds. She has never used sprays, mulch or landscaping fabric to help control weeds.
    “The beds are so full now that they are pretty much weed-free,” Wendy said. “But when I was establishing them, I weeded them every day. They were all hand-dug and weeded.”
    Most of Wendy’s gardening work these days involves replacing plants as they die out, and Wendy said she experienced a fair amount of winterkill in the flower beds this past year, similar to their hay fields.
    “I find the gardening to be very rewarding and relaxing,” Wendy said. “I love to feel the black dirt in my hands.”
    Jon said the work Wendy has put into the flowers and the presentation of the farmstead helps draw visitors, particularly those not involved with the dairy industry, to the farm.
    “What people see from the road gives us a good image in our neighborhood and community,” Jon said. “I think people get a good impression of dairy farming, seeing our farm.”
    The Schmidts have hosted several garden club tours for groups from Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire, Wis. They were also hosts for the Tour de Farm bike ride, raising scholarship money and awareness for farm safety.
    The visitors who come to the farm to view the Schmidts’ elite herd of Jerseys enjoy being greeted by the colorful display of flowers and plants that decorate the farm.
    Much like the flowers, breeding the herd of Jerseys has been a long-term labor of love, with much care and dedication placed on the mating decisions made over the years.
    “We like to breed balanced cows, with lots of Jersey breed character about the head and neck,” Jon said. “We also focus on longevity and components. They produce consistent offspring. Whatever we breed them to, we know pretty much what we are going to get.”
    The Schmidts see the tangible results of their breeding program in daily bulk tank weights and in monthly DHIA testing results, with a current rolling herd average of 21,037 pounds of milk, 1,217 pounds of fat at 5.8% and 790 pounds of protein at 3.76%.
    Intensive grazing is a focal point of the cows’ diet at Woodmohr, and the herd is turned out to a fresh acre of grass and clover following each milking. They are also fed high moisture corn and are supplemented with free-choice vitamins and minerals.
    “They really have to do what they do on their own,” Jon said.  
    The Jerseys are not just working girls; they look as good as they milk. Six cows in the herd are scored EX-95, and all cows in the herd average 92 points.
    “We breed the kind of cows we appreciate,” Jon said. “Our cows can succeed and do well in any environment. They are extremely efficient and heat tolerant. They fit our farm very well.”
    The cows as much as the flowers help make up the beauty the Schmidts appreciate so much on their dairy.