GAYS MILLS - Modern culture is a fascinating, ever changing topic and fun to try to keep up with. One of my favorite cultures is that of the ‘agri’ variety. Along with just about every other facet of our society, agriculture and farming is plowing*(pun fully intended) ahead to get bigger, better, more productive, faster, more technology based, etc.
The Country Today is my weekly update on what’s happening in Wisconsin and, to a lesser extent, national agriculture. It’s a good newspaper and always gets looked over pretty thoroughly here. The Wisconsin State Journal, I must say, has pretty skimpy agricultural coverage for a major paper in a strong farm state. The paper you’re holding now, The Crawford County Independent and Kickapoo Scout, does a very good job reporting agricultural and environmental news of local interest thanks largely to the efforts of our intrepid and award-winning reporter Gillian Pomplun.
I’d like to share with you a few gleanings I’ve gotten in recent issues of the Country Today, sort of an ag digest, if you will.
-A Humbird dairy, Scholze Family Farms, has expanded their operation into providing pasture raised Jersey beef. Eight- to 10-pound boxes of frozen meat are overnighted to customers from one-time sales, a monthly or bi-monthly subscription.
-Chippewa Valley Technical College is offering a beekeeping class this spring. The 32-hour, one unit class is open to students and members of the community. “Beekeeping is one of the most rewarding ways to connect with nature” the instructor says. And I agree.
-Jeff Laskowski of Plover won the 2017 state corn yield contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association with a yield of 317.64 bushels per acre. The state average is somewhere around 175 bushels. David Hula of Virginia won the national contest with a yield of 542.327 bushels. These competitive farmers know some tricks of the trade for sure.
-Matt and Marie Raboin, an enterprising young couple from Barneveld, are developing an apple cider business. They pick late season apples from several orchards and test the cider that it makes. They will be opening a cider pub near the Duluth Trading Company Headquarters in Verona. This seems like a natural offshoot of the very popular craft beer brewery trend.
-Tomorrow River School District near Amherst has taken a creative step in dealing with the school kitchen’s food waste: they feed the waste to pigs. They use expired milk, scraps, and items from the food line but not food from students’ trays. A host family raises the pigs off campus for this second grade project.
-The largest organic farming conference in the country will be held in LaCrosse February 22-24. This will be the 29th annual MOSES (Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service) organization event, a non-profit group—66 workshops, several well-known keynote speakers, and a large trade show are all part of the conference.
* Ironically, actual moldboard plowing is not done too much anymore. Minimum tillage or no-till are much more common now; instead of turning the soil over with a plow, the crop stubble is worked over by a variety of means leaving the soil less likely to erode.