Sharing stories of Wisconsin's dairy farmers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Sharing stories of Wisconsin's dairy farmers

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MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- In the past, and even today, people pass down stories from generation to generation. Now, historians work on ways to spread the stories of farmers in what they'll call, "The Book of Dairyland."

It seems like America's dairy land shrinks a little bit every day.

"The other morning I was at my lady friend's house and I went out to get the paper and they were starting to cut a 40 acre hay field," said former farmer Mike Bird. "By the time I got done with that second paper, they were done cutting that 40 acres of hay."

After 160 years of milking cows, making cheese and fertilizing the soil and economy of the state, Wisconsin's farmers may be a dying breed. But before their work is done, historians hope they'll take a minute to pass their stories along. Organizers call it the Wisconsin Dairy History Project.

"Our fear is that they're going to die without telling us about the way things were," said President of the Dairy History Project Ed Janus. "If we don't know that, we don't understand how things are."

Their mission: record stories from down on the farm before it's too late.

"I farmed from the time I was two years old," said Bird. "I could kick hay to the heifers and then went from there."

Farmers said they're used to working long hours. Even though technology changes, their work ethic stays the same.

"We figure we probably have three to four thousand hours of work in to do with what one modern combine could do in ten minutes," said Bird. "But we're trying to keep history alive."

Sometimes they visit farmers at their homes. Other times, they catch them elsewhere like at the farm tech days in Marshfield. But either way, they want to make sure dairy farmers get the treatment they deserve.

"We don't think about the huge gains we've made because of dairy," said Janus. "In fact, I'd like to say that if there were no dairy, there'd be no Wisconsin."

If you want to be a part of this project, you can click this link to find more information.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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