The stouthearted dairymen

Goplins involved in community organizations, singing group

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OSSEO, Wis. – Between milking cows, raising a young family and volunteering for community organizations, one might think there would be no time left in Brad Goplin’s life for a singing group. But, they would be wrong.
Brad milks 60 cows in a tiestall barn with his dad, Eric, and his uncle, Paul, near Osseo.
Brad and Eric also keep active in a singing group called Stouthearted Men. The group usually sings for church services, weddings and funerals. Every year, they also perform a Christmas concert.
“I was kind of born into it,” Brad said. “There is some satisfaction after a concert when people come up and tell me I have a really good singing voice and I should keep singing. It’s rewarding.”
Eric started the group 27 years ago when he was asked to sing a solo for a local event. He thought a solo sounded boring so he recruited a small group of other men who joined him in singing three songs, including the song, “Stouthearted Men.”
“We’re still singing,” Eric said. “We’re a pretty good group.”
The group sings in four-part harmony with a piano accompaniment.
Brad was only 3 years old when the group began. He would help his mother, Jackie, set up for rehearsals. Then, Brad joined the group when he was in middle school. Jackie is still the director.
The group now has around 17 members from surrounding communities. Brad is the youngest member at 31 years old. The rest of the men are all more than 60 years old.
Eric said their age does not slow them down.
“A lot of us have new hips and knees, but we can still sing,” Eric said. “Some of us guys have to sit now for a concert.”
Brad said the singing group provides a good opportunity to socialize. The group practices every Sunday night for about a month before a scheduled event.
“We like to joke around and lighten the mood during rehearsal,” Brad said. “The camaraderie during rehearsal is fun, and you don’t see some of the people until you practice again.”
Brad is the sixth generation to milk cows on the Goplin farm. He bought the cows and machinery in 2011 after attending Chippewa Valley Technical College. Brad rents the buildings from his dad and uncle and 800 acres of cropland from other family members and landowners.
Brad does all of the milking while Eric feeds the cows and calves. The rest of the chores are handled together. Brad’s uncle helps with fieldwork. Heifers and dry cows are raised at Greg Johnson’s place, a neighboring farm. Johnson helps the Goplins with fieldwork in addition to taking care of the heifers and dry cows. Seasonal tasks are completed with the help of local friends and hired hands.
Besides keeping active in the singing group, Brad is also on the board for the Jackson County Fair, vice president of the Trempealeau/Jackson Farmer’s Union and president of the Trempealeau County Dairy Promotions.
“It’s fun, but then if I didn’t do it, who would?” Brad said. “And it’s one small way to promote the industry.”
Eric attended the one-room school house growing up where there was also a community club, and the neighbors would get together and hold various programs.
The family’s involvement in their communities and the musical club is a way for the Goplins to give back.
“Music in the rural communities was a big deal 100 years ago,” Eric said. “All these kids now go through these high school music programs and then give it up. I don’t get that part of it.”
Brad even wrote some original lyrics to the tune of Roger Miller’s “King of the Road.” He calls his version “King of the Farm,” and the lyrics include lines like, “Milking cows is a breeze with my new hips and knees.” He sang the song for a local competition and now gets requests for it.
“I don’t have all the lyrics written down so sometimes I sing that during milking so I can remember how it goes,” Brad said.
Even though farming keeps him busy enough, Brad plans to continue his community involvement, including being one of the Stouthearted Men.

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