Another Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to Tanner Walleser. Tanner is the oldest of Tom Walleser son’s and helps run all the day to day operations at Walleser Farms. He has been farming since he could crawl (maybe even earlier than that) and only took a short break to head to Iowa State University to get a degree in Business. Tanner spends most of his time on the farm milking, feeding cows and doing fieldwork.
Fresh Curd Friday is here and this week we’re introducing you to another one of WW Homestead Dairy's farmers. Stephanie is one of Tom Weighner’s four daughters. She started working at Weighner Brothers Farms in junior high and has been around ever since.
Steph’s main focus on the farm is herd health, calf health and keeping her four wild ones out of trouble.
Usually, she lets Marshall handle the morning milking while she gets the kids up and ready to go for the day. They do school in the house and then everyone heads outside to do the rest of morning chores. If any cows or calves are sick, she treats them or calls her veterinarian (also her sister) to take care of them.
Steph also handles all of the breeding on the farm. She uses a GEA monitoring system to keep track of each cow’s activity level. Every cow gets to wears a special necklace with an activity tracker. When a cow comes into heat it triggers an alert on the computer which tells her they are ready to breed. She pulls up the cow’s page and checks their activity level to confirm (or heads to the barn to watch them for a bit). Currently, she is using a ProCross breeding program, along with aAa mating system. The ProCross system uses Montbeliarde, Holstein and the Swedish Red dairy breeds. aAa looks at the cows and takes their weaknesses and strengths into account, then matches them with compatible bulls. You could say she’s a little bit of a cow matchmaker.
In the afternoons Steph milks the cows, feeds calves and checks everyone over to make sure they don’t need any special attention. All the milk she feeds the calves comes from the cow herd. She milks a cow into a pail, pasteurizes it to kill any bad bacteria and then feeds it to the calves.
In her spare time she likes to plan new adventures, like driving 16 hours to pick up a rare breed of sheep or designing her new strawberry patch (berries coming your way in 2021.) Marshall and her plant sweet corn every spring to sell it in August. She also enjoys morel mushroom hunting, Gator rides and boating on the Mississippi. Steph’s favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is strawberry sundaes from the ice cream parlor or coffee from the coffee barn.
WW Homestead Dairy is made up of two family farms, Weighner Brothers Farms and Walleser Farms. Tom Weighner, Paul Weighner and Tom Walleser are the owners of WW Homestead Dairy. In 2011 they decided to switch gears and begin processing the milk from their farms into a value-added product to sell directly to customers. Their hope was that this would allow the next generation to continue to do what they love and farm. Over the next couple months we will introduce you to our farmers, families and the cheesemakers at WW Homestead Dairy.
On this Fresh Curd Friday, we want you to meet one of our dairy farmers. You’ve probably seen Marshall pop up on our social media account from time to time, although he’s not a big fan of getting in front of the camera he will usually let us snap a picture or two. Marshall started his farming career in junior high and has been involved in agriculture ever since. He and his wife, Stephanie (one of Tom Weighner’s daughters), with the help of their four kiddos, and Shelia the Border Collie, run most of the day to day operations at Weighner Brothers Farm.
Marshall is up bright and early, 4:30AM, almost every day to milk the cows. (Don’t worry, Steph does give him a morning and weekend off every once and awhile.) After milking, he mixes feed for the cows and then spends the rest of the day on whatever needs to get done. During the winter months that means equipment maintenance, cutting firewood, bedding animals, checking water’s, and pushing snow. Spring, summer and fall you’ll find him fixing equipment and doing fieldwork.
On days when Steph needs extra help in the afternoons, Marshall helps finish up afternoon milking, scrape barns and feed cows. In the evenings he heads out to say goodnight to all the cows, checks for new calves and pushes up feed so the girls can have a midnight snack.
All fun and no play makes for a grouchy farmer, so when he can, he sneaks away to enjoy a little fishing, boat rides on the Mississippi, Gator rides on the farm or working on his old tractors. His favorite WW Homestead Dairy product is Homestead Vanilla ice cream, covered maple syrup from the trees he taps in the spring!