Dairy Profile

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How did you get into farming? I was born and raised a dairy farmer. I am the sixth generation on this farm that was homesteaded in 1859. My folks put me on a percentage of the milk check right after high school. Four years ago, we created a limited liability company, which I have shares of.

What are the most significant ways your farm has changed since you started farming? The most significant change I have made since farming full time has been the ventilation system in the tiestall barn. We installed tunnel ventilation and high-speed basket fans over the cows. It makes a big difference in milk production when it’s hot out. Previously, we would drop on milk quite a bit when it got hot out. Now, the cows are eager to get in the barn under the fans, and production stays steadier. We also have fans in the calf barn.

What was a challenge you faced in your dairy farming career, and how did you overcome it? Money is always a challenge, but I’m not in farming for the money. You’ve got to love it, or you’d be awfully disappointed. We always find ways to work through it. I have worked off the farm in the past when I had to.

What is the best decision you have made on your farm? I promised myself a long time ago that this is where I would raise my family, and I am doing that. I also set a goal when I was 25 years old that I would breed polled Red & White Holsteins for 25 years. I am on the 16th year. You’ve got to have goals or else you’re just working.

What three things on the farm can you not live without? I could not live without my silo unloaders. I love them, because I don’t have to run a pitch fork as much. My loader tractor gets used all the time for everything from barn chores to making firewood. I have to say my farm truck. It’s a do-it-all truck, a big, blue Ram.

What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The biggest concern I have is the input cost versus the milk price and having enough feed due to the weather. We have always had enough in the past, but we always worry.

What strategies do you use to withstand the volatile milk prices? We just tighten up our best and save where we can.

How do you maintain family relationships while also working together? Dad and I have worked together my whole life. We have learned to compromise and not step on each other’s feet. We listen to each other. I try to bite my lip more than argue.

What do you find most rewarding about dairy farming? To know that I live where I work. It is not a job. It is a lifestyle. What’s outside my back door is most people’s dream.

Tell us something special about your farm. It is interesting that our farm was homesteaded in pre-Civil War times. The original shanty that was built on the farm still stands and is used as a granary. For a long time, the original summer kitchen was on the property and was even used as the first milkhouse.

What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? For the next year, I plan to maintain the business as it is. In five years, I hope to have needed updates done like planting equipment and feed storage.

How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? My mother makes a Sunday breakfast at 10 a.m. every weekend. It is a time to be together as a family. People from the community know they can stop by, too, and we have had as many as 20 people come for breakfast. Besides Sunday breakfast, we also like to have company around the fire pit and sit on the patio. We have a block party on the last Saturday of July. Also, I have been on the Sparta Area Fire Department for 10 years. Station 3 in Cataract was recently established, and I enjoy working with all the boys there.

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