Hello and welcome to Jo-Al Acres. We are Ashley and Jeff Olson, and we’re the owners and operators of our small, conventional dairy farm with the help of our son, Jed. Located on the beautiful ridge on top of Coon Valley, Wis., we milk 50 cows on 250 acres. Our herd consists of mostly Holsteins and Jerseys with a few crossbreeds.
Jeff is our full-time farmer, while Jed has school and sports to tend to and I work for Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). However, dairy farming is a team effort, and Jed and I help out any chance we get.
Jeff and I both grew up on our family’s dairy farms in the area and so did three generations before us. I’ve helped produce high-quality milk for the Creamery for a while now – my parents were patrons for about 20 years. And now Jeff and I have been patrons for the last 10 years or so.
Jeff took over his parents farm and I later joined him. Leonard and Beatrice Olson had farmed there for 35 years before that. Not only did they have a dairy farm of their own, but Leonard also ran a milk route for many years.
Eventually, we purchased our own farm just up the hill and have been there for the last 12 years. Not too much has changed with our farm other than upgrades to keep our cows comfortable and happy such as adding in more free stalls.
As dairy farmers, sustainability is important to us. On our farm, we like to utilize “cover crops.” Cover crops are plants that bring organic nutrients back to the soil and add nitrogen in a slow-release way that plants can handle to reduce waste. Some other benefits include reduced soil erosion, enhancing water availability, smothering weeds, helping control pests and diseases and increasing biodiversity that in turn, brings a host of other benefits to the farm. On our farm, we plant winter rye over our newly harvested corn fields to help keep the soil healthy year round.
Community involvement is also important to us – specifically, involvement in farming related programs. As the number of dairy farms continue to decrease in Wisconsin, we want to do our best to educate the younger generations about this lifestyle in hopes of keeping small family farms around. I am the president of Vernon County Holstein Association, assist the Vernon County Dairy Promotions, am a board member on the Coon Creek Community Watershed Council, am a member of the Vernon County Dairy Youth Committee and coach the local 4H dairy team. Our son, Jed, is in 4-H and FFA as well. He looks forward to showing his animals at the Vernon County Fair each year.
Dairy farming has always been a part of our lives and it’s molded us into who we are today. We chose to continue our family’s legacy because it’s one of our greatest passions. To put in the work day in and day out and see the whole process through is more than rewarding. We thank you for purchasing Westby brand dairy products and supporting small family farms like ours.