More than 3000 guests enjoyed the variety of food and dairy-related activities at the Ozaukee County Dairy Breakfast on Saturday, June 22, at Fredonia.
Hosts of the event were Don and Diane Hamm and their daughter, Heather. They operate their dairy farm with help from Don's brothers Randy (Mary) and Rick.
Don and Diane are proud of the fact that their farm continues to be worked by family members and their four part-time employees who they say are just like family.
The family runs 600 acres of crop land, raising corn and alfalfa for the forages needed to feed their herd that includes 210 milking cows, 30 dry cows, 170 head of various-age youngstock.
The farm also includes a flock of sheep that were part of Heather Hamm's 4-H project together with four horses, a Black Angus steer, barn cats, a dog and a rabbit named Eisenhower.
Don, who also serves as Wisconsin National Farmers Organization state president and is treasurer for the Ozaukee County Dairy Promotion Committee, is proud of the fact that the farm has been in his family since 1852.
LONG FARM HISTORY
The original farm was purchased by his great great grandfather. The second farm was purchased in 1931 by his grandparents, John and Theresa Waas Hamm.
Don, Rick and Randy's parents, Joe and Betty, worked the original farm, but sold the cows in 1971 due to health reasons. Joe's brother, Bill, worked the second farm.
In 1981, Don's oldest brother, Joe Jr., bought a herd of cows and began milking again. In 1987 the barn on the farm burned down. They temporarily milked cows on a farm eight miles away while plans on how to rebuild were made.
The next year, 1988, was a severe drought, so building plans were held off. In 1989, Joe, Don's brother, was tragically killed in a farm accident and plans were put on hold again.
Finally the farm was in a position to rebuild and exactly three years to the day after the fire, 48 cows were moved home to the new barn.
The current one-story steel barn was built in 1990. A 66-comfort-stall barn and a 36x36-foot hay building were built.
In 1997, the first freestall barn for the milk cows was built, with two additions added in 2001 and 2012. A heifer freestall barn was built in 1999, with an addition added in 2006. A calf barn was built in 1999. A maternity barn was also added to the main barn in 2006.
With the exception of the main milking barn and parlor, all the barns were built by the Hamms. Brother Bill Hamm works for Walters Building and he designed all the buildings. The whole Hamm family went to work building.
The newest accomplishment is the brand new D-10 parallel rapid exit milking parlor. Cows moved in Jan. 3 this year.
Don says, "It has helped us become much more efficient in milking and comfort for the cows and the milkers. No more bending over."
Don, Rick and Randy are the sixth generation on this farm. Don and Diane have an 18-year old daughter, Heather, who says her goal is to return to the farm and join her family in the business full time.
She graduated from Port Washington High School this year and plans to attend the UW-Madison Farm and Industry Short Course.
She celebrated her graduation with family and friends on the same day her family hosted the dairy breakfast. She also received a $1,500 scholarship from Central Milk Producers Cooperative through the National Farmers Organization. The scholarship was presented during the breakfast on their farm.
Randy and Mary Hamm have five children, Nic, Kayla, Bret, Luke and Mariah. Everyone has a job on the farm as well as off the farm.
Randy runs his own independent Artificial Insemination service. Diane and Mary volunteer for Divine Savior Catholic Church and School and Holy Cross 4-H Club. Rick is a member of the NOSD Board of Education.
This was the second time the family hosted breakfast on the farm. The first time was in 2003, 10 years ago. This year's event was the 29th annual breakfast on the farm for this county.