Dreaming for the next generation

Hasenohrls farm simply, are hopeful for the future

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AUBURNDALE, Wis. — Growing up as the third generation on his family’s Wood County dairy farm, David Hasenohrl dreamed about following in his family’s footsteps. Now, he and his wife, Theresa, are dreaming about their children becoming the fourth generation to operate the farm that has been in the family for nearly 100 years.

David and Theresa, along with their two sons, Andrew and John, and David’s mother, Marlene, represent three generations of the Hasenohrl family that call the 30-cow dairy farm near Auburndale home.

“It’s a good life and a good way to raise a family,” David said. “The kids have learned what hard work is; they get outside and use their heads.”

Marlene agreed. She said raising her family of 10 on the farm was a good life.

“My husband, James, and I raised our family here,” she said. “James was raised here. It becomes something that is a part of you. That is hard to let go.”

Marlene was helping with farm chores until recently.

“It was hard to give it up, but I just couldn’t get around as well anymore,” Marlene said. “Sometimes I still really get the itch to be out there though.”

David’s grandparents, Jim and Anna, purchased the farm in 1927 and farmed together until Jim passed away in 1944. From that time, Anna managed the farm with her family until James and Marlene purchased the farm from her in 1973. David purchased the farm from his parents in 2007 and met Theresa the next year.

“Even though it has only been in our family since 1927, this land has been a farm since 1856,” Marlene said.

When Theresa moved to the farm, she became immersed in the life of a dairy farmer.

“I grew up with beef cows and horses, but my grandpa had a small dairy farm,” Theresa said. “It was a bit of change for me, but it is a good life.”

Being a 30-cow dairy in central Wisconsin makes the Hasenohrl family somewhat unique. They have been shipping their milk to Nasonville Dairy for over 30 years.

“Our milk hauler said we are one of the smallest herds left,” David said. “You do worry that they will keep picking us up because of our small size.”

Along with the herd of cows, the Hasenohrls farm 97 acres, growing corn, oats, alfalfa and grass hay.

“With that, we pretty much raise everything we need to feed our herd,” David said. “Hay will be close this year, but we’ll make it (with our inventory) until spring.”

David said he enjoys operating a small dairy farm but has concerns about the future.

“We keep things pretty simple, so maybe I have fewer headaches to deal with than someone who has a bigger herd or different headaches at least,” David said. “We all worry about the prices — both what we are getting paid and our outputs. Milk prices are the same as we were getting 30 years ago, but expenses have doubled since then.”

In keeping their farm simple, the Hasenohrls milk with Surge buckets, component feed and clean the gutters in their barn using a wheelbarrow. They use a bull to breed most of the cows and A.I. occasionally.

Everyone in the family plays a role in the operation of the farm, and Andrew aspires to be the fourth generation of the family to operate the farm. Andrew helps David with fieldwork and barn chores while Theresa cares for the calves with help from John.

“I like being outside, and I love helping with the fieldwork,” Andrew said. “I have grown up doing it, and I like working with my family.”

In addition to operating the farm, both David and Theresa work full time off the farm.

“We just work hard to get done whatever we have got to get done,” David said. “It’s not all fun and games, but we do it.”

Despite the hard work and the juggling schedules, Theresa said she has come to the same conclusion as her mother-in-law: There is no better place to raise her family than on the farm.

“The kids learn so much growing up on the farm,” Theresa said. “It is teaching them a sense of responsibility and perseverance and what it means to work hard.”

Keeping the farm going so Andrew can fulfill his dream, just as his father did, has become David and Theresa’s dream. The couple said that in three short years, the farm will become eligible for centennial farm recognition.

“I just want to keep it going, to keep it in the family,” David said. “There’s getting to be fewer and fewer of us around. The world will be missing something if small family farms like ours die out.”

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