Farming is family affair for Spring Valley's Traynors
Farming is all one Spring Valley man ever wanted to do, and as he works on his family farm he appreciates the fact that he is able to do what he loves every day.
Bob Traynor, with his wife Kathy Traynor, own and operate Honeycrest Farm Incorporated in Spring Valley with several family members - brother Larry and his wife Linda; brother Dick and his wife Dar; nephew Jeremiah and his wife Rachel; and nephew-in-law Steve and his wife Jenny.
Kathy said Bob started helping on the family farm when he was five years old and just never stopped.
"I always wanted to farm," Bob said.
The name of the farm, Honeycrest, is from Bob's dad's farming days. Bob said his dad kept bees and farmed on the crest of a hill, so they put these together to create their farm name. Even though they no longer have bees, Bob said the bee keeping was an important part of farming for their dad.
Growing up on the farm, Bob said his dad had no problems with the children wanting to be involved - his dad was more than willing to let them work on the farm.
"As we got older and wanted to come into farming we just did," Bob said of himself and the other siblings that joined in the family enterprise.
Currently, they have 125 cows and 1,700 acres of crops. Bob's interest lies in the dairy side of the business and the genetics of the herd.
Bob said they haul their milk to the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery and chose the creamery because at the time they started hauling there they were paying better than other milk processors. Also, he said having their milk used in the Ellsworth cheese curds is a definite bonus - as that product is known far and wide as one of the state's best curds.
While the farm has many crops, beef cattle and steers, the dairy portion is what Bob does.
"Bob is the cow guy," Kathy said.
"From the time I was four or five," Bob added, "I've been into cows."
Some of Bob's knowledge of cows and genetics come from his year of dairy herd management at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. However, the industry is always changing and Bob said he has to just learn as he goes.
"I think probably when I was quite a bit younger people were in genetics trying to breed for show cows, the goal was to make show cows," Bob said. "Now, we go for a lot wider frame and just try to make the cow last longer. It's a lot more practical approach."
Kathy grew up farming and enjoys living on the farm. She spends time gardening and enjoys the openness of being in the country and out of town. She also saw the value of raising their children on the farm.
"It was good for kids to grow up here," she said.
Bob's interest in sharing his passion for agriculture has extended to youth as he mentors younger generations about farming. He is involved with the local 4-H and has been a 4-H dairy judging coach for 27 years.
Part of the reason he is involved with the 4-H judging is because he understands the value these contests can have for youth. He benefited from participating in these events when he was younger.
"Before judging, I was really shy when growing up," Bob said. "Judging helped me immensely in 4-H because I hated being shy."
Bob hopes that he can give back to today's youth through the judging contests. "The contests really benefited me a lot and I try to help kids," Bob said. "It's nice to see kids blossom, come out of their shell and get good at it."
Working with youth, Bob said helps keep him young. He is excited to have Pierce County's judging team represent Wisconsin at the All American Dairy Show in Harrisburg, PA, this year. The team is coached by Bob, Tom Knegendord and Peter Coyne.
His involvement with 4-H is something Bob foresees as part of his future for a long time.
"I will probably end up being a lifer," Bob said. "My granddaughter is four so I need to start her soon on judging."
While Bob enjoys dairy farming, he said eventually he would like to retire from that. If he retires he would like to work for an artificial insemination company and work more with the genetics.
He has already exported embryos to nine different countries and has sent 101 bulls to AI studs; one out of six have graduated to the active line-up.
Even if Bob retires from the dairy side of the business, he thinks animals will always be part of his life.
"I will always have to own some critters."