Among the rolling hills and steep slopes of Buffalo County, Ed Rippley’s grandparents settled on the farm he calls home in 1934. Ultimately, the Rippleys became members of the county Farm Bureau and the rest, as they say, is history.
Ed is the third generation to be a member of the Buffalo County Farm Bureau and the second of his family to serve as the Buffalo County Farm Bureau president. He and his wife, Laura, farm near Waumandee alongside his three daughters: Ella, Anna and Andrea.
While each member of the Rippley family has their own niche, they are woven together through agricultural passions and a drive to better their community.
A Diverse Variety
Ed and Laura began raising goats in the summer of 1993.
“I mean – just look at them. What’s not to love about goats?” Laura said.
The Rippleys have 13 registered milking goats as well as buck kids raised for meat. Four years into raising goats, Laura was looking for a way to diversify their farm and remain profitable. In 1997, Laura began making soap from goat’s milk which has since become a sought-after item by locals at craft sales and businesses. These days, she makes soap seasonally alongside her daughter, Anna.
“One year, we peaked at making 7,000 bars,” Laura said. “It is something we really enjoy; it just adds to the diversity of our farm.”
In addition to the goats, the Rippley family began raising broiler chickens for what is now called Pilgrim’s Pride in 2005. A portion of the chicken raised on Ed’s farm is sold in Kwik Trip stores in various cuts.
“We’ve been raising chickens for 18 years, which amounts to 139 flocks of 52,000 chicks at a time,” Ed said.
From Project to Passion
What started as an equine project grew into a passion for Anna Rippley.
“You could say I never grew out of the horse phase,” Anna said.
Anna’s love of horses began when she was 12 years old. She later purchased two horses and began showing them across the state. Anna was a member of the Arcadia High School rodeo team before receiving a bachelor’s degree in animal science with an equine emphasis from UW-River Falls in 2019.
After graduating from college, Anna moved to New York State where she worked in a reigning performance barn before returning to the Waumandee area. Today Anna currently works at Waumandee State Bank and owns four horses that she continues to show around the state.
“I would love to create a business related to horses here at home,” Anna said.
Called to Create
Ella Rippley-Twidt recalled a middle school art class that has since shaped her career.
“It was in 7th grade that I first touched clay and have been addicted ever since,” Ella said.
Ella was in her first year of college when she realized she needed a change. She returned home to help on the farm but felt a natural draw to pottery. She took an intensive summer internship in Cornucopia in Bayfield County in 2016 that was spent camping, hiking and in-depth learning about her chosen art form.
“I learned so much more in those few months than I ever learned in a classroom,” Ella said.
Today, Ella creates household items including mugs, plates, cups and more in her studio on the farm. She loves the personal touch and relationship she can build with customers through pottery.
“I love being able to create personal items people get to use every single day,” Ella said. “Owning a pottery business allows me to connect with people in a different way than a normal 9 to 5 job.”
Ella and her husband, Erick Twidt, have one son, Eli. Her pottery creations are available for purchase at craft and art shows across the state as well as at Together Farms and Suncrest Gardens in Buffalo County.
Giving Back to the Next Generation
Andrea Rippley-Schlais was drawn to a career with Extension after graduating from UW-Platteville in 2017 with a degree in agricultural education. She has been serving as the 4-H Program Educator in Jackson and Trempealeau counties for the past five years where she trains volunteers, facilitates 4-H programming and raises general awareness of the organization in the community.
“I like to call myself the ‘Head Clover’,” Andrea said. “I love the variety in what I do that I am able to work on new and different things throughout the year.”
Her career in extension allows her to give back to the organization that has left an impact on her and her sisters.
“I love county fairs, albeit exhausting, because they give me the opportunity to meet with members and volunteers to learn about the things they are working on,” Andrea said. “It’s exciting to see kids find something they are interested in and build a project around it.”
Andrea and her husband, Nick, have one daughter, Grace.
A Farm Bureau Family
The Rippleys have a unified interest when it comes to Farm Bureau. Being a part of the organization is something Ed remembers from a very young age.
“I remember my dad, Charlie, always said, ‘There’s more to farming than being on the farm’,” Ed said. “And once I joined, I realized Farm Bureau is a really powerful organization.”
“Farm Bureau is about having a voice,” Laura added. “Being a part of the policy development process, seeing what members are passionate about and what they vote on gives us as farmers hope that we can make an impactful change.”
From serving on the county board to participating in the Leadership Institute, the Rippleys continue to take advantage of the opportunities Farm Bureau has to offer. While the commodities raised and interests within the Rippley family are diverse, Farm Bureau continues to be a common theme that has woven through their family now raising the fifth generation of members.
“We truly are a Farm Bureau family,” Andrea said.
Story and photos by Cassie Sonnentag and Heidi Strey. Originally appeared in the June | July 2023 Rural Route.