At a fork in a road, Wisconsin family closes its farm

This is what the end of the road looks like in America’s Dairyland.

Photo via Faith, Family, Farming blog

Yesterday, the auctioneer showed up in Arkansaw, Wis., — near Durand in Pepin County — and by lunch, 62 cows at Patnode Lane Holsteins were gone. Weston and Jenni Patnode were out of business after four generations on the land.

His grandfather, Warren, bought the farm in 1942. His father took it over and finally it went to Weston.

Jenni writes the Faith Family Farming blog, where she said her husband wanted to be a farmer since he was 3. He was showing his cows at the county fair when he met the then-non-farm girl who he’d later marry.

It’s an old story in these parts. Boy shows cows. Boy gets girl.

This week, they milked their cows for the last time.

“He did everything. Tried everything, studied everything, and learned everything. He did every single thing right. But yet, we have come to this conclusion —– small dairy farms just don’t work anymore,” she said.

They don’t have the money or the people to grow. Their kids are too young to make a life commitment to farming. They don’t want to go further in debt and saddle their children.

It’s a fork in the road that many families are facing and many are coming to the same decision.

Farming isn’t just WHAT Weston DID….. it is WHO he IS. To the very core, and the blood that ran through his veins. He is a farmer. I know the farm created him into the man he is, and I am forever thankful for that. His patience, his compassion, his willingness to problem solve, or adjust to situations, and his hard work ethic. All things he learned from the farm that overflow into his life and made him into the man he is. And for that I am grateful.

I’m grateful for the years we had together in the barn. The early years when I learned how to milk cows. I’m grateful for the slow dances in the walkway as the cows milked. I’m grateful for our dates to cattle auctions where some of our best and funniest memories were made.

I’m grateful for the memories our two boys had in the barn- feeding baby calves, chasing the barn cats, seeing baby calves being born late at night, and seeing their Dad give it his all into something he loved.

I’m grateful that God allowed us to add this piece of life to our memory box. I’m grateful that in this time, we learned to draw closer into him and lean on him when it wasn’t our own understanding. I’m grateful that he held us close when we felt it all slip away, and I’m grateful that I know he has other plans for us. Even if we don’t understand what they are yet.

Last year the couple went to Honduras on a church trip to drill a well in a town that didn’t have water.

They’re planning to return there to do more work, she writes.

(h/t: Mark Zdechlik)