Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dairy Breakfast

If you’ve been wondering how dairy farming—farming in general—has changed the last few decades, attend a dairy breakfast. Ruth and I traveled to the Pionke farm in western Waushara County to see some of these changes while we enjoyed flapjacks, ham, potatoes—a down home country breakfast served in a huge machine shed with live polka music playing in the background.

The Pionke farm, in the family since 1903, is currently owned and managed by Martin, Duane and Cheryl Pionke. When I was a kid, we would have called this a diversified farm because they not only milk cows, about 120 of them, and raise replacement young stock, another 120 head, they also grow cash crops besides feed for their cattle—125 acres of sweet corn, 95 acres of canning peas, 55 acres of snap beans, 40 acres of wheat, 25 acres of soybeans, 200 acres of alfalfa and 340 acres of field corn. Their farm is about 1,000 acres.

Now the comparison. Back in the early 1950s, on our home farm, which was 160 acres, we milked about 15 cows, fed 20 to 30 hogs, raised 30 acres of alfalfa, an acre of snap beans, an acre of cucumbers, and 20-30 acres of corn.

Although the numbers are dramatically different; yesterday’s and today’s farmers had the same purpose: Providing food for a hungry world.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Keep things simple. They’ll get complicated enough, soon enough, without you intending that they should.

June 28, 5-7 p.m. Fitger’s Bookstore, Duluth, MN. Book signing, Campfires and Loon Calls.

June 29, 2-4 p.m. Cherry St. Books, Alexandria, MN. Book signing, Campfires and Loon Calls.

July 6, 6:00 p.m. Chilton Library, Chilton, WI Campfires and Loon Calls

July 10, 11-2:00 Pickle Station, Saxeville, WI. Booksigning.

July 26, Noon, Wis Historical Society Museum, on the Square, Madison, WI. Ringling Bros. Circus.

July 31-August 6, Writing Workshop, The Clearing, Door County.

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