Sundae on the Farm scoops together a crowd

McNultys host Jackson County dairy promotion event

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BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. – July 10 was a hot, sunny Sunday ideal for an ice cream sundae. Residents of Jackson County enjoyed the dairy treat during the county’s Sundae on the Farm at the McNultys’ farm near Black River Falls.
A spin off from the typical farm breakfasts usually celebrated for June Dairy Month, Sundae on the Farm offered ice cream sundaes, grilled cheese sandwiches, cheese curds and milk.
“We went through 1,500 grilled cheese sandwiches,” Bill McNulty said. “We had estimated at least that many people would come.”
Bill and his brother, Sam, own the McNulty family’s farm.
Folks parked in hay fields close to the farm and had a scenic tractor ride to the event. Volunteers of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin shared facts with kids, who then received goody bags. Small children had the opportunity to dig for coins in a sawdust pile. A line of antique tractors was on display as well as a petting zoo with piglets and goats.
The McNultys’ farm was home to about 150 milk cows until April when the herd was dispersed. One of the milking barns is rented now, and the brothers are glad to see the barn continue to serve a purpose.
“The renter had an ad in the paper that we responded to,” Sam said. “He is buying some forage from us, and the barn is being utilized.”
The McNultys’ focus on their crops and raise heifers. Sam has a 26-cow beef herd, and the chicken barn holds 6,000 laying hens. Bill runs a custom farming business.
Bill and Sam grew up farming with their father, Bill Sr., and both stayed home to farm after high school.
Shortly after Bill graduated, he started a custom farming business. He was already trucking cattle in addition to helping his dad dairy farm. With connections from the cattle hauling business, word spread and Bill soon had some a custom combining business as well.
Bill said he entered the custom farming scene at just the right time.
“In that day, everybody wanted ear corn, and pickers were wearing out,” Bill said. “We had the combine set up for cob mix so we’d get half to three-fourths of the cob and we were bagging it.”
A bagger was added to the enterprise, and before long, Bill had six baggers to his name. People started calling him Bagger Bill. By 1983, Bill was also custom planting corn.
By 1987, Sam was 17 and started milking on their uncle Tom’s farm and helping on the home farm. As he got older, Sam started his own custom farming enterprise as well, buying a chopper in 1996. Around that time, a lot of herds in the area were expanding from 80 to 200 cows and going to narrow corn rows, according to Sam. He ran two pull-type choppers, four silage trucks and seven chopper boxes for many years and eventually bought a Claas chopper.
Now, Sam also runs a bale wrapper as well.
“It just kept going and going,” Sam said. “The timing was good, and things kept moving.”
The brothers run their custom farming operations separate from each other and help each other with the farm’s acres.
In 2016, while milking 150 cows on three sites, Sam decided to diversify by renovating a barn to accommodate laying hens. The project involved gutting a parlor and old freestall barn.
When the renovations were about halfway complete, Sam’s market for eggs fell through, and the project was put on hold. When a private buyer approached him, he had only eight days to complete the setup before birds were scheduled to arrive. With the help of friends and family, the barn was ready in time.
“I like the birds,” Sam said. “It started out as another gimmick to make a dollar, but I’ve come to enjoy it.”
Although the dairy cattle are gone, there are over 200 head of steers and dairy heifers on the farm all together. Bill and Sam both have grown boys who work full time on the farm. Between custom cropping and the acres at home, the McNultys will farm over 2,500 acres this year.
The brothers said they were glad to take a break to host the event.
“The volunteers did the bulk of it, and it went good,” Bill said. “We lost a little farming time but not much.”

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