High Grove Farm Journal – Dec. 2022
Jan 05, 2023 (Westby, WI)
By Jessica Rogers
Fiery sunrises and mild weather started the first few days of December on the farm. It gave me some time to hang twinkle lights and garlands in preparation for Christmas. We like to start our mornings with coffee by the fireplace and in the light of the Christmas tree. However, the weather did not last long, and very cold weather and harsh winds came shortly after.
One morning as I was leaving for town, I noticed the older heifers had found a back fence down and were now out. Most likely a deer had run through and knocked it over. Most of the herd decided to go for an adventure across the corn and alfalfa fields… So, I called Drew and asked if he’d bring a scoop of corn silage in the skid steer, thinking the heifers would follow him back as they usually do. They followed for the most part, but I had to get the truck and bring up the stragglers of the group. Then – an hour later than expected – I ran my errands in town. Delays like this happen all the time when you have a farm!
Two days later, we had rain and sleet that covered all surfaces in ice. The kids school bus slid right past the driveway that morning! The sleet turned to snow, and the animals ate more than usual as they can always sense a storm coming. We had a family Christmas planned for the weekend, so I spent part of that snowy day gathering pine branches for planters outside. It was so beautiful and peaceful out in the woods with the snow coming down. We got several inches of snow that night and woke up to a winter wonderland and mild temperatures again. All the cousins went sledding at the Christmas party we hosted. We had almost 40 family members over! I just love filling this old farmhouse up with friends and family.
It didn’t stop snowing for several days, and the kids had some more fun sledding with their days off school.
Soon after, an artic blast hit our area and all who own livestock of any kind, had to deal with caring for them in extreme temperatures. This creates the added struggles of managing frozen equipment, frozen water lines and working extra-long hours in the cold. Of course, it had to be the week before Christmas, as if it’s not already stressful enough. I did the best I could to keep the family well fed and the Christmas spirits up. The extra-long evening chores seem to blend into morning chore time. The few hours of sleep between are never enough for weary farmers.
More snow came with wind chills as low as -29 degrees at our place. We ran our wood stoves constantly and had to use torpedo heaters on equipment. Even on the compressor on the outside of the milk house, whose job is to cool the warm milk as it comes into the bulk tank. That’s an ironic struggle. The house thankfully stayed warm (at least the main floor) and we got to eat extra Christmas goodies as our bodies burned through calories like mad. Think of the positives, right?
Christmas was a wonderful time spent with family. Us dairy farmers must work extra hard to make it to get-togethers. It’s always a mad dash to get all the chores done and show up without looking like we didn’t all just come out of the barn, which we did.
It’s now the week between Christmas and New Year’s and I am busy getting ready for yet another big family gathering at the farm for our son Carter’s 14th birthday.
When Carter was born, Drew was working fulltime as a herdsman for a dairy farm outside of Viroqua and delivering rental equipment for Nelson’s Agri-Center, our local hardware and ag store. It was a terribly cold January day when I called Drew from the hospital. He was out hauling a load in the semi for rental. When I told him I was in labor, he didn’t believe me and thought I was joking because it was a month early and we like to joke with each other a lot. I had to have a nurse get on the phone and tell him I was telling the truth! 🤣
We’re very blessed to see Drew’s dream of farming on his own – with his own family – come true. And one very hard-working, now 14-year-old, has played a huge roll in that. Carter you are a wonderful son to us!
As we look at 2023 and use the winter months to plan out the next year on our farm, we will continue to work towards building a farm that values and gives the ultimate care for our animals, growing soil fertility on our land and raising our kids with the values that have been instilled in us by our parents and grandparents.
Wishing you a new year full of peace, love and happiness!
-Jessica Rogers is a Westby Creamery farmer-owner who is sharing glimpses of farm life with us.
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