This Casco dairy farm has been passed down through seven family generations for 150 years

Christopher Clough

CASCO - The Kewaunee County Dairy Promotion Committee finds a different family-run farm in the county each year celebrate June Dairy Month by hosting its annual Breakfast on the Farm.

An aerial view of Junion Homestead Farm in Casco, was the site of the annual Breakfast on the Farm held on June 17.

And this year's host is offered special reason to celebrate family farms.

The breakfast held Sunday at Junion Homestead Farm, celebrates its 150th anniversary, all with the same family as its owner/operator. It’s the second time Junion Homestead has hosted the breakfast; the first was in 1998.

The farm’s current owners are Tony and Peggy (Junion) Knorn. Peggy is the fifth generation of Junions to work the farm; she married Tony, a farmer from Rib Lake, in 1982. The Knorns moved onto the family farm in 1990 and bought it from Peggy’s parents, Lawrence and Magdalene Junion, in 1993.

And, Tony and Peggy are not the most recent generation of the family on the farm, as daughter Amanda works as its herd manager and Mikayla, a dairy science student at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has shown cows from the farm. The Knorns have two other daughters, Megan and Amber, and five grandchildren, making it seven generations on the farm.

The farm was established in 1868 by Lambert and Marie Junion, who emigrated to the U.S. from Belgium in 1856. According to an article on the dairy promotion website, it’s been a dairy farm for most of its existence, although it raised crops from 1966 to 1993 (until the Knorns purchased it) and at various times in its earlier days also raised chickens and pigs and operated a sawmill.

Members of the Knorn Family at Junion Homestead Farm in Casco, served hosts of the June 17 Breakfast on the Farm. The Knorns are the fifth, sixth and seventh generations of the Junion family to run the farm.

Tony and Peggy purchased a herd of 29 cows and six bred heifers on May 29, 1993, to restart the dairy part of the business. Since then, it’s expanded to where the farm now has 250 Holsteins, brown Swiss and Guernseys – 225 for milking – along with corn, alfalfa and oat crops.

As with most businesses, the expansion didn’t come without a few bumps in the road. Among the biggest, the Knorns said on the website, was a fire on Feb. 5, 1997, that burned down the farm’s shop and garage. Tony Knorn was able to get one tractor out of the garage, but two other were lost, along with tools, parts and other items, totaling a loss of about $100,000.

The Knorns said they’ve approached the expansions gradually and methodically, researching their options and touring other farms to learn what would work best for their farm and its environment.

“What you see today on the farm has been 150 years in the making,” the family wrote on the farm’s Facebook page. “We have the fifth, sixth and seventh generations of family working and growing together on the farm. We value the tradition of family farming and are proud of the fact that we have been the blood, sweat, and tears of the operation since 1868. We strive to manage our cattle and land the best we can to ensure the success of the farm and the generations to come.”