A day in the life of the Haag family

Dairy offers learning opportunities for youth

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REEDSBURG, Wis. – A typical summer day for Jamie Haag, his brother Shaun and mother Bonnie has always included milking cows, mixing feed and managing calves. Now those tasks are also part of a typical day for Maddie Weber, Olivia Grace and McKenna Murray as the three are employed at Haag Family Dairy of Reedsburg.
“We try to help them build their confidence,” Jamie said. “You need to have confidence in yourself or you’ll be reluctant to try things.”
Murray and Weber are working at the farm through an apprenticeship by  Reedsburg High School, while Grace is employed through an internship by Southern Utah University where she is a college student.
The day begins by 6:30 a.m. when the crew arrives to begin milking. The Haag family milks around 170 cows in a double-12 parallel parlor. Before beginning work with the Haag family, Murray had barely set foot on a farm.
“She has a really good attitude of wanting to learn,” Jamie said.
While Bonnie, Jamie and another hired hand, Braycen, milked cows, Murray scraped the barn with the skid loader and scraped stalls with a hand scraper.
Grace and Weber fed calves in the meantime.
Calves are housed in group pens with hutches outside, and the team keeps a journal of events pertaining to the youngstock. Whoever feeds calves checks the journal before feeding and updates it when finished. This method helps teach the young employees the attention to detail required with calves, and increases communication among everyone involved.
Around 9 a.m., two cousins arrived in the farm office. Shaun and Jamie each have a son who are a couple years apart, and the pair are often found together. Huston’s favorite chore is checking the pre-fresh pen, and Jamison often helps bring cows to the parlor and scrapes stalls. The two boys occasionally help feed calves as well.
Bonnie said the two are more like brothers.
“If they get sick of each other, they just go back to their own house,” she said.
While many hands helped wash down the parlor, Bonnie took a delivery of meat to a local customer. The farm butchers up to five head of beef cattle every month to sell directly to customers. They also stock a craft store in town with their products.
Jamie said they mostly sell by the quarter.
“But, it’s nice that the craft store stocks it too,” he said. “We are their highest earning vendor.”
While Bonnie was executing the meat delivery, Jamie had a trucker waiting to pick up cull cows. After loading the cows, he then had three cows to breed.
The family has a variety of breeds in their milking herd including Holstein, Ayrshire, Red and White Holstein, Milking Shorthorn, Jersey, Angus, Guernsey, Brown & Blue, Roan and Lineback.
Shaun gives Jamie credit.
“If it’s in the book, then Jamie has probably bred it,” Shaun said.
After morning chores, the three girls hauled calves that were sold to a nearby farm. This offered another learning experience as Weber was shown how to hook up the cattle trailer. There was also a lesson in filling a tire with air and backing up the rig. Once the girls had directions to the new place, they were left to run the errand on their own.
After returning with the truck and trailer, the girls had some time off midday while Jamie and Shaun ran errands.
After lunch, Shaun began cutting rye in a rented field near the dairy. Jamie, Weber and Braxton Bretsch, another employee, worked on getting the baler ready. New teeth were installed, and the knives were replaced. The three worked together to make sure every grease fitting was filled and the baler was operating correctly before heading to the field.
Weber and Bretsch took the truck and trailer with the skid loader on it to the field so they could load bales to bring home when they were done. Jamie drove the baler to where Shaun had been busy mowing. After some minor adjustments on the baler, the first bale was successfully formed around 4 p.m.
Shortly before 5 p.m., Shaun left to participate in his children’s sports. Bretsch took over cutting hay, and Jamie continued to bale. The rye crop was so plentiful that it could be baled immediately after cutting. At the end of the day, Jamie, Weber and Murray handled evening chores.

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