Breezy View Dairy Celebrates 101 Years of Farming
Hello from Breezy View Dairy! I am Darren Eichelkraut and I run this farm with the help of my parents, Junior and Jeannie, my wife, Nicole, and our two awesome kids, Aria and Merik. Our organic farm is in the small town of Paoli, Wis. where we milk 52 cows on 280 acres of tillable land.
I’m a fifth-generation dairy farmer, and I grew up on the same farm that we’re on today. And so did my dad and so did his dad and so on. Our family just celebrated 101 years here! That’s right – our family has owned this land since 1921. I’m honored to continue our family’s farming legacy.
After years of being away from the farm, I realized how much I missed this lifestyle, so I came back. It’s funny because as a kid, I hated it, but as you get older you realize how valuable it is towards your character and work ethic. I started thinking about starting a family and how I want to raise my kids to be the greatest versions of themselves – doing so on the farm was the best way I know how.
I have worked a few other jobs off the farm, but something was always missing. I like being my own boss and I like that you’re able to take some of your own creative liberties with farming and that most days look different from the last.
In 2013 Nicole and I committed to farming full-time. My dad, Junior, was still the primary owner at that time, and in 2015 we swapped roles. Now we still work together but I have the final say and ownership of the farm.
My wife, Nicole currently works full-time off farm at a local general contracting company. She also helps with milking on a regular basis. Aria (seven) will be starting second grade in the fall and loves running track. Merik (five) will be starting kindergarten in the fall and is a total gearhead and ready to be working on the farm with me.
We converted our farm to organic in 2011 and have been sending our milk to Westby since then. We didn’t want to expand, and we felt that going organic was a good fit for our farm. We enjoy having a smaller farm to keep our focus on the cows and their comfort. We also are able to produce all our own feed – we run 25 acres of corn and 30 acres of triticale. We used to sell off some of our extra corn, soybeans and grains but we have recently downsized.
Since coming on board full-time, we have started crossbreeding. Our herd used to be 100% Holsteins but now we’re experimenting with three-way crosses. We are using Holstein, Montbeliarde, Jersey and Norwegian Reds. With the crossbreeding, we’ve gained higher fertility, stronger feet and legs and a more efficient grazing animal. We have also noticed healthier, stronger calves.
Dairy farming is tough work, and the job is never done, but it’s rewarding to work alongside your family and make a living off the land. We wouldn’t trade it for the world.