Jenny Vollmer
Mt. Calvary, Wisconsin
Fond du Lac County
34 cows

Family: My dad, Richard Vollmer, passed away a few years ago, so now it’s my mom, Janice, my little brother, Joey, and myself running the farm with seasonal help from my two older brothers, Jim and Dennis, and my older sister, Cheryl.

Tell us about your farm. My family’s farm is a little, old farm with a 1980s setup. We run just shy of 150 acres of tillable land and plant corn, oats, alfalfa/grass mixes and soybeans which we roast and add to our milking cow ration for protein. We have a 34-animal tiestall barn where we house both milking and dry cows together. They get let out into two separate groups to eat during the day with milking cows being fed a total mixed ration in a bunk and dry cows eating baled timothy hay top dressed with a little corn silage. I am proud of the fact that in my 27 years on the farm, we have only had one D.A. which we attribute to the fact that we keep fresh animals in the dry yard for three days after calving. Being that our farm is old school, we have pens that we hand pitch and still throw about 6,000 to 8,000 small square bales of hay and straw up into the haymows every year.

What is the busiest time of day for you? The busiest time of the day for me is in the morning. That’s when I feed and bed heifers, milk the cows, breed any animals in heat and take care of any heat synchronization functions that need to be done.

When you get a spare moment, what do you do? When I am lucky enough to have free time, I like to read, hike, work with and show my chickens at poultry shows, work in the garden, or hang out down by the creek or in my orchard of dwarves (that’s what I like to call my mini-orchard full of dwarf varieties of fruit trees).

Tell us about your most memorable experience working on the farm. My most memorable farm experience would be pulling a premature calf. One of the cows started calving almost three weeks early, and I thought being so early the calf would be dead. So, I left the cow alone and kept working on my chores. Before heading in, I went to check on her and saw the head was out but still in the sack. I thought the calf’s eye was open which was odd for what I thought was a dead calf, so I flicked her in the face and she blinked at me. I caught the calf and placed her in front of her mom. It was a tiny heifer calf who earned the name Shrimp.

What have you enjoyed most about dairy farming or your tie to the dairy industry? I enjoy the sense of accomplishment you feel at the end of a long day when you look back and see all the work you did physically laid out in front of you.

How do you stay connected with others in the industry? I stay connected to others in the industry by going to open houses and connecting with old friends. I also attend seminars put on by the University of Wisconsin Extension and companies, such as Compeer Financial, which is an opportunity to make new friends.

Who is someone in the industry who has inspired you? My dad inspired my love of farming. It was always neat to watch him go down the line with his milk stool tied around his waist and watch him milk the cows and later in the day fix anything that broke. I just wish I would have understood his ingenuity around the farm enough to ask about more things before he died. And honestly, I would say all of the old-timers who made it inspire me because farming is such a hard life and to make it to a ripe old age while farming is just downright impressive.  

If you could give a tour of your farm to a prominent woman in today’s society, who would it be? I would give a tour of my farm to any and every one. I love showing people around and watching their faces light up at all the different animals we have and explaining how everything works.

What is the best vacation you have ever taken? Being raised on a small farm and having no hired hands, we never took an all-out vacation. We did take part of the day off on holidays, and I always loved it when we went out by my aunt and uncle who live on a lake. They took the whole family, including all of the aunts, uncles and grandparents, out on the lake on their pontoon boat, and we would go swimming and fishing. It was the only time we really got off the farm and didn’t have to think about the farm.

What are some words you like to live by? Suck it up. You can do it. Just push through it.