Unlike many of my fellow Farm Bureau members I didn’t grow up in agriculture, but I found a love for it through my friends and family who took the time to share their experiences and passion for the industry.
I grew up in Northern Wisconsin where our main industry is logging and paper making. Up until 2020 I didn’t realize how much of an agricultural background the area really had. During COVID, I spent some time in Rhinelander with my then-boyfriend (now husband). Normally we’d go out to dinner or the movies, but instead we started taking nightly walks to the family farmstead that was owned by his aunt and uncle.
As I got to know them, I learned a lot about how they lived through dairy farming in the 80s and then the changes in the 90s and early 2000s as people tried to keep up with the growing dairy industry, how they evolved and moved toward crop farming to keep up. Crops and dairy fascinated me, so I started getting to know our other farmer neighbors in the area to learn from them too.
From there I joined the Dunn County Farm Bureau to connect with other people in agriculture that I could learn from. I met Stephanie Doane at our Pumpkin Palooza event in late-September and she invited me to tour Chippewa Valley Bean and hang out during corn harvest. It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had! From getting my first ride in a semi to riding in the combine and watching the grain cart driver as we unloaded on the go. I also got to unload a semi and watch the grain flow from the pit up the leg and over the drag into the dryer.
It was a whole new world for me and I’m so appreciative of the Doanes for letting me tag along during harvest. In Northern Wisconsin we have much smaller and hillier fields so a lot of people use a 4-row JD 4420 or something of the like, so the Case IH 7240 I rode in at Doane’s was amazing to me.
I’m hoping to continue learning from my other Farm Bureau members and eventually be able to raise my own small beef herd, crop farm and help at dairy farms in the area. From the smell of fresh cut corn to watching the sunset from the farmhouse porch to the unique sound of an International 5088 starting up, it all drew me into agriculture and expanded my horizons to new friends and traditions.
Story and photos by Anna Dahlka, Dunn County Farm Bureau member. Originally appeared in the District 9 December 2023 Newsletter.