Last Saturday, May 25, was cool, cloudy and dry for the 34th Green County Dairy Breakfast on the Farm. No one slipped on wet grass, got their shoes (and feet) wet and mud caked or got stuck - as 200 cars did - in the parking field as all happened a year ago at the Elmer dairy at New Glarus.
Southern Ridge Cow Palace and the Falk family hosted a crowd of eaters and lookers estimated to number well over 6,000, maybe even a record beater of the 6,700 people who enjoyed the event in 1998.
When you milk cows in the hills of Green County it's hard to find a flat piece of ground if you want to expand. Jeff and Katie Falk and son Jon solved that challenge when the herd was expanded in 2004 by moving up and building on two levels of the hill above the original farmstead.
It's hard to explain but here's how it worked out: The home farm is on the highway level. Directly above on the second level are a huge farm shop and machine shed, where tables were set up and the breakfast eaters ate their scrambled eggs, sausage, coffee cake and cheese. The freestall barn, 40-cow rotary parlor and hay storage is directly above separated by a newly-seeded, landscaped and very steep bank. A common question was: How will they mow it? One answer was, maybe they won't.
Katie Falk is the herdsman and take care of the 425 cows and as many head of young stock. "We were milking 90 cows in a 50-cow stanchion barn," she says. "That's no fun, so we built new in 2004 and installed a 30-cow Roto-Tech rotary parlor."
Yes, the breakfast visitors were allowed to view the parlor and walk through the freestall barn. Needless to say this brought forth a good many ooh's and aahs from the guests, most of who had never been up close to a modern dairy facility.
Jeff Falk is the crop expert.
"We farm 4,500 acres, about 900 that we own," he says. "Altogether we farm land on 36 farms."
In addition to Jeff and Katie Falk and son Jon Johnson who is moving into an ownership position, the farm has 10 employees.
Cars were parked in a field seeded with grass that will now be worked for a new crop that bordered a corn field in which the rows were clearly visible.
The Green County Ag Chest, headed by Craig Kamholz , sponsors, organizes and runs the annual Breakfast on the Farm event. It is unbelievably good at what it does. The long line of eaters-to-be moved through the five serving lines at a rapid pace and no one had an uncomfortable wait.
Wagons ferried people between the parking fields and farmstead, there was a display of farm tractors, a host of exhibitors in tents and of course, huge ice cream sundaes.
Everyone seemed to have a great time, neighbors met neighbors they hadn't seen for a good while, there was plenty of food and perhaps most important, hundreds of city folks and their children got to see a modern dairy farm and learn where food comes from.
In addition, the scores of volunteers who did everything from cook, to serve to clean up got a break from their normal life. Some probably - the next day - had sore muscles they didn't even know they had. But, farm, city, farmers and agribusiness worked together to put on an eating and educational event that guests will long remember.
If you missed it, that's okay. There are 40 or so other such events all across the state. Go to dairydaysofsummer.com on the internet and take your pick.