Last week I featured “Cows on the Concourse,” a story about dairy cows and their importance to the economy of Wisconsin. If you missed that article, click here for a read. This week, I’m sticking with the same theme. I’ll take you to Dane County’s Breakfast on the Farm, a yearly event organized by the Dane County Dairy Promotion Committee.
Saturday morning was cool and overcast with a bit of fog. Rain was in the forecast for the afternoon. It was 62° when we left Madison to make the drive out towards the town of Dane in northwest Dane County. After turning off Highway 12, we traveled about five miles on country roads following the signs to the farm hosting the breakfast. When we came over the top of the last hill, we saw the farm, tents, machinery, and the large field where cars were parked. It was quite a sight.
After parking, a woman called out to us asking if we wanted a ride. We saw a wagon pulled by a John Deere tractor coming toward us picking up passengers as they drove along. We said the woman: “Yes!” Later, we figured out it was our gray hair that prompted her to offer us a ride. Terry is her name. She grew up on the farm hosting the breakfast. We had a delightful chat with Terry as she drove across the bumpy, recently harvested rye field. It was a pleasant introduction to the event.
Terry dropped us off at the ticket booth, the line was short and efficient. This nice volunteer sold me two tickets for the breakfast at $10.00 each. No charge for the photo!
While the breakfast line looked long, it moved along quickly. The trivia questions kept us busy as we walked along. Did you know a cow can smell something six miles away? I didn’t. But I do know cows hearing is less sensitive. When our cows got out of the fence, we could holler all day and they’d never come home. We’d have to walk and get them. However, if I called the dog, they could hear that and would start for home!
Soon we had our pancakes, sausage, scrambled eggs, cheese stick, yogurt, and all the fixings. We found a place to sit and enjoy our meal.
The yogurt was especially interesting, rhubarb flavored. It’s made in Madison, check it out in the dairy case.
Along with our meal, we got more dairy facts. Hope you can read the answers, just stand on your head!
After enjoying the hearty breakfast, we walked by the tent where they prepared our meal. The fellas in the top photo are scrambling eggs.
Across the way were the emergency vehicles and farm machinery. They were kid magnets, climbing in the drivers seat or talking to the first responders.
There was a display of restored antique tractors. The kids in the photo below has his foot on the clutch and looks ready to head to the field. I was about his age and size when I began operating tractors on the farm. I wish I had that nice of a tractor!
This little gal was really hamming it up. Her mother wanted her to come down, she wouldn’t budge. I liked that her jacket matched the Allis-Chalmers orange paint.
When we saw where they were dishing up ice cream (included in the cost of the ticket), we got in line for our choice of vanilla, cookie dough, or strawberry. My Traveling Partner chose the strawberry, I tried the cookie dough. Both were outstanding! You can’t go wrong with ice cream.
The breakfast event was hosted by the Haag Family, John and his wife Julie, and their son Josh and his wife Melissa. They milk 115 Holstein and Guernsey cows. As I mentioned in my post last week, I’m especially fond of the Guernsey breed of cattle. That’s the breed that was on our dairy farm when I was growing up.
The cows are milked by two robotic milkers, no humans required. The cows choose when to enter the milking stanchion, usually two or three times a day. So how do they know when it’s time for milking? The cows know that when entering the milk station, high quality feed drops down a chute so they can eat while giving milk. The little round chip on the top of their ear lets the robot know how much milk they are giving and then dispenses a corresponding amount of grain. Quite ingenious.
This Guernsey calf was especially friendly and liked to be petted and have its ears scratched. Note the woman wearing white pants, not recommended on a farm!
This woman was hand feeding this heifer, Mrs. Pots, some pellets. Mrs. Pots is gobbling them down, a nice treat for her!
Lilac was a very friendly Guernsey heifer looking for a little attention.
Is that not the longest tongue you’ve ever seen? This is Star, she just wants to lick the tasty hand of the girl!
This little gal was fearless. Every time a heifer poked her head through the stanchions, she would run towards them. A couple of times, she was licked and once butted by one of the critters.
Note the round dot on the top of the ear. This is an electronic chip that records steps (fewer steps may indicate sickness) and when they enter the milking herd, milk production and the amount of feed they need is recorded. Lots of data driven decisions made on this farm.
This set of twin holstein calves were born the evening before the breakfast. Note the Hawaiian themed names of the mom and her offspring. Love that this farm still names all the cows and calves.
In other action, the face-painting booth was very popular. Here a team from Hinchley’s Dairy Farm near Cambridge, Wisconsin makes all takers a dairy animal for the day. I highly recommend taking a tour of the Hinchley farm, it’s run by Tina and her twin daughters.
Alway popular at the Breakfast on the farm are rides on the horse-drawn wagons. There was alway a long line for the rides.
The makeshift stage on a flat-bed trailer provided entertainment for the thousands of visitors to the breakfast. Here Soggy Prairie entertains the crowd with bluegrass and country music. They used to be called the Soggy Prairie Boys, but since they added two musicians of the female persuasion, they shortened their name. A fun group.
As we strolled around the farmyard enjoying the atmosphere, I took more photos, here are a couple.
After seeing all the exhibits and two trips through the ice cream line, we started walking to our car. Our gray hair attracted this young fella, he offered us a ride. My Traveling Partner and I were wearing “Teach Ag” shirts. Cory Brown asked us if we were involved in teaching agriculture. We gave him at little of our background and then he shared that he was involved in FFA during his high school year. He served as a state FFA officer for a year. Cory told us he lived on a dairy farm but they had to sell their cows last December. He’s now doing electrical work. We had a great chat with Cory and wish him well.
It was a fun morning. We had a good breakfast that someone else made; we saw cows, calves, machinery, and a band. A big bonus was that people watching was superb. Mark your calendar for next year’s Breakfast on the Farm, Saturday June 10, 2023.
Until next week, happy travels!