The Klinkner Family: Gerald, Ann, Justin, Jessica, Dillan, Angela, Rachel.
Breezy Acres Dairy, at St. Mary's Ridge, near Cashton, WI
(left-to-right): Dillan (21), Jessica (23), Justin (25), Rachel (12), Angela (14), Ann and Gerald.
Hello, and welcome to Breezy Acres Dairy. We are Gerald and Ann (Marquardt) Klinkner, and with our five kids we are the fifth and sixth generations to proudly own and operate this family dairy farm; which has been in our family for 151 years.
Our family farm started in 1863, with horse-drawn implements and the hand-milking of cows; and has progressed through various stages of mechanical horsepower and the sciences of animal genetics, nutrition, health, quality cow care, and modern crop production practices.
The story begins in February, 1863, when Gerald's great-great-grandparents, Jacob and Katherine Smith (Schmitt), bought and homesteaded this farm. In March of 1865, Jacob enlisted in the Union Army and served with the 13th Regiment Co. D/Wisc until the end of the Civil War. In October, 1872, the farm was purchased by their daughter Mary and her husband John Klinkner, Gerald's great-grandparents.
As time progressed, John and Mary replaced the original log barn with a new modern barn in 1903. It was a big barn, for the time, at 34' x 54' and built by their sons Ed, Jay, Joe and George, who built many barns in the area. In January, 1912, George and his wife Lona (Schmitz) Klinkner, Gerald's grandparents, bought the farm. Over time, they added more acres of land and built an addition to the barn.
Gerald's parents, Leonard and Bernadine (Brueggen) Klinkner, bought the farm in April, 1953. They made several improvements; including a silo, pole shed, bunk, cow yard and a new house.
We were married in 1987 and bought the farm in April, 1990, and have also made several improvements. In 1993 we added a heifer barn and silo; in 1996 a feed room; in 1998 an earthen manure pit, and rubber mattresses for the cows; in 2002 a new silo; in 2003 an addition to the house; in 2008 a new shed and shop were built; and, in 2012, an addition to the heifer barn.
For each of those 150 years this family dairy farm has been, and is, 24/7/365. Between animals that are fed and milked each day, farm machinery and equipment, land, crops, buildings, technology, weather, people, and a family home, there's always something that needs your time and talents and patience. However, the rewards are real and plentiful, and the pride is lived and shared each day by every member of the family.
As each new generation purchased and improved the farm, they first learned from the previous generation by working on the farm. Each generation has been directly connected to a proud past and the preservation of traditions, with a commitment to continual progress and constant learning in the present, and a focus on the future and the next generation to take over the family farm.
That next generation belongs to our kids. Each has grown-up, or is still growing-up, working on the family farm. No matter how young, or how old, there's work for everyone. If not directly on the farm, then there's involvement in school and community events. Each of the kids has been active in Future Farmers of America (FFA) at local, state, and national levels. Gerald has served as a Board Member of Westby Cooperative Creamery. Ann has served in leadership positions with our local Health Center and church. And, when time permits, we enjoy motorcycling, snowmobiling, and hunting; all as a family.
Today, we milk 55 cows with a rolling-herd-average of over 20,000 pounds of milk annually. That means we produce and ship over one million pounds of milk to Westby Cooperative Creamery. We have been "certified-organic" since 2000. These cows are milked twice daily in that same barn built back in 1903.
We grow corn, alfalfa-hay, and small grains on over 300 acres of land as feed for the cows. Gerald's brother Paul, and his wife Geralyn, also own a farm nearby. We help each other with planting and harvesting, and the sharing of equipment and knowledge; like any family would.
We especially enjoy visitors to Breezy Acres. In June, we were happy to host the annual Monroe County Dairy Breakfast, which was also our 150th year family farm celebration. We had over 3000 people in attendance. Imagine having that many people to your home for breakfast. It's a good thing that dairy farming teaches you how to plan, organize, manage time and details, and to feed a herd.
This means we're ready for your visit, as well. If you're ever near Cashton, Wisconsin, you're welcome to stop in at Breezy Acres Dairy to share in the history and life of our family farm.
Gerald & Ann Klinkner & Family