Westby Creamery News

High Grove Farm Journal – February 2024

High Grove Farm Journal – February 2024
The sounds of robins singing in the trees and the sight of Canadian Geese flying over head, is a welcomed sight so early in the year!
Mar 04, 2024 (Soldiers Grove, WI)

Welcome back to High Grove Farm! The sights and sounds of an early Spring have given me HOPE! This last week we’ve been hyper focused on our goals for the upcoming planting season, and it has left us feeling excited for our farm! Our family operates a dairy farm in the beautiful Driftless region of Southwestern Wisconsin, and each month I share what it’s like to live and love this unique lifestyle of ours on a small family farm.

My husband Drew and I, along with our three children, and soon to be four in a matter of weeks, all work together daily to get it all done. The chores stay about the same and are done twice a day without exception, but the changing seasons and weather bring lots of planning and new tasks!

In the hope of being successful in producing top quality milk, healthy animals, vigorous crops and lively soils, we spend a lot of time planning in late winter for each year. We look at what amendments need to be added to our fields, what we will plant for crops, who’s extra hay ground to rent and what inter-seeding in existing perennial pastures may need to be done.

This farm has worked hard producing lumber, crops and growing families and animals since the original homesteaders cleared the land and built this house using materials from the land. They operated a lime kiln here and sold barrels of lime at the end of the driveway over 120 some years ago, all while raising crops, milking cows and raising hogs. It was a dairy farm and then the ground was rented out and mono-cropped for 20 years.

Chopping and stacking wood is just one of many chores on the farm.

We’ve worked hard to bring this ground back to life. We bought this farm a few years ago and are still focusing on soil fertility and regenerating the soils – using grazing to do a lot of the work! Taking soil samples and sending them into a lab to be tested is the first step to amending soils and one of the first things we look at each spring. Once we get our results back, each field is analyzed individually to see what we can do to amend any deficiencies.

Frost seeding is one of our favorite ways to inter-seed existing pastures and “liven them up” for extra good grazing. Drew rents a broadcast seeder that you strap to your chest and fill up with seed, usually clover, and then he walks our pastures cranking the handle as the seed is broadcast in a large area around him.

Our oldest son Carter getting the twine off a hay bale so we can feed some to the dairy cows once we’re all done milking. Our dog loves when we bring him a new “bed” to sleep on!

Nothing gets the cows as excited as the sound of the feed cart coming down the barn.

Drew taking soil samples in our side pasture along the house that serves as a “rainy day” pasture for grazing. We use this pasture when we don’t want our cows on the really good pastures, where they could cause damage and mud due to the weather. This pasture is well established and has hearty clumps of perennial grasses that can handle the cows on a rainy day.


Frost seeding is a “work smarter, not harder” technique of broadcasting smaller hard seed onto the sun-warmed ground that is slightly thawed in late February and early March. Knowing that the temperature will drop and freeze, and the ground will heave and close that seed in, the weather does the planting for you! We will sometimes put our cows on the pasture for a few hours after broadcast seeding it, to help push the seed in too!

As we move forward with goals and plans for our farm, the importance of making the right decisions is extremely high this year for all of us, as dairy farmers are still struggling with very low milk prices and high inflation.

Our daughter Laney enjoying a few moments in the pasture with the cows and her best friend last year. We are looking forward to watching our cows grazing our pastures later this spring!


But for the farmer, there is nothing like the first warmth of spring’s return to spur us on with plans and goals for the coming year on our land! Thank you for visiting. Come again!

 -Jessica Rogers is a Westby Creamery farmer-owner who is sharing glimpses of farm life with us.

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