Wisconsin Dairy Farm Crisis

So, I’m leaving out anything kitchen or culinary in this post. For now, anyway.

When I mentioned my blog to people I got introduced to at my new day job and the fact that I live on a dairy farm, it was brought up about how much has changed with dairy farming. We didn’t talk about machinery, cows, family dynamics but how the economy has forced many small family farms out of business.

By no means would I consider my husband’s and sons’ farm a small farm. The farm is what I call medium. It’s not a hobby or small farm. Nor is it a so-called factory farm.

But, over the past 5 years, I feel the farm’s income isn’t medium or what you call middle class. It’s more like less than lower class. Since 2014, farm milk prices went downhill. Over the past few months, I’ve really felt the strain of it all. Or for better words, burned out.

I hate to break the rural living shiny bubble that some people believe in. I hate to cast such a dismal shadow over what I’ve been posting and writing about. Frankly, cooking in the small kitchen has kept me sane despite its shortcomings.

Anyway, getting back to the day job discussion. It was expressed that perhaps a story should be told about what it’s like living on a dairy farm today. I thought this to be a good idea. For some strange reason, it may be therapeutic in between the recipe sharing and other thoughts that are culinary that pop up in these posts and on this site.

Actually, I did write a blog about life on a dairy farm and published a book called Holy Heifer Tales. The book actually was something I just wanted to pass on to my children, kind of like a piece of me in some way creatively. What I wrote about was rather light stuff.

Since the economic downward spiral for dairy farmers in Wisconsin, it’s been difficult to find anything light to write about. Hence, my blogger’s or writer’s block for a number of years. Also, partly because of the death of my local magazine Country Diva which I had edited, owned, published.

You can find numerous articles about what Wisconsin dairy farm families are going through like this one from Journal Sentinel. I can relate very well to the financial and emotional issues discussed in that article. Even the “s” word was brought up. As a result, I’ve even made attempts to see what else could be done with what this farm has.

Industrial hemp looked like a promising alternative, but after having a credible agronomist look into our particular situation it was learned our soil was not the right type. Sadly, that was the only bright alternative. Beef was out of the question–the cost of the transition is not affordable. Crop farming is a huge gamble as well.

I’ve decided to let go and let God. All I can do is pray for my family. I’ve done all I can. It’s time to let it go to a higher power. And the kitchen. My day job helps pay for those gourmet ingredients that I feel Farmer deserves in his home-cooked, gourmet quality meals. Especially when he’s working for nothing.

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