With June arriving, it is time for us to continue getting back to normal activities. Hopefully, the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is in the rear-view mirror. June is Dairy Month, and it is time for us to celebrate Wisconsin as America’s Dairyland once again.
It is worthy to note that 57% of all dairy farms in Wisconsin get their electricity from an electric cooperative. We as individuals can do so much to support the dairy industry and our rural communities and show those who make up the backbone of Wisconsin agriculture that we support them through these challenging times.
First, I plan to support the local county dairy breakfasts that will be in person once again across most of the state. This has been a tradition for as long as I can remember, and it starts out with the local county dairy promotion committee selecting a dairy farm to host the breakfast. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work at these dairy breakfasts. It is heartwarming to see how neighbors come together on a weekend in June to feed thousands of their county’s residents. The menus are usually the same from county to county, with scrambled egg omelets, pancakes, sausage, applesauce, and cheese as the main breakfast, along with milk and coffee.
While serving in the state legislature, I regularly volunteered to work at the four-county dairy breakfasts in my represented counties. I could usually be found at the enormous frying pan where the eggs are made. The recipe for the scrambled egg omelets you typically find at a dairy breakfast calls for five gallons of eggs, ham, mushrooms, onions, and cheese. I have not found a better recipe anywhere than the one used for a Wisconsin dairy breakfast omelet. But I will share a secret: After making thousands of gallons of eggs, it took until Thanksgiving for me to want to eat an omelet again.
The best thing about the dairy breakfast was the chance to sit down and talk with our neighbors and friends about the coming year, crop planting, and just catch up. Unfortunately, we have not had much chance to do that since the pandemic, and I am looking forward to it again. Once the dairy breakfast season is over, we move into church festivals. Hopefully, we can ditch the drive-through festivals this year and enjoy them in person again.
It’s all about getting the community together again, and I know we long for that opportunity again. It is special to see the church members work together to pull off a chicken barbeque and the comradery of the congregation working behind the scenes, similar to the all-hands-on-deck approach of the dairy breakfast. When the day of the festival arrives, it brings the whole community together once again, which has been sorely missed.
As the summer progresses, we also have the upcoming community or county fairs to look forward to. Having been a member of the Sinsinawa Orioles 4-H Club when I was in school, I know our local FFA organizations and 4-H clubs help prepare kids to be future good citizens and leaders in our community. It is where I gave my first speech and learned good animal husbandry skills and the importance of planning a project. I watched my own daughter in her 4-H club take on a challenging rag rug-making project from start to blue-ribbon finish.
We have much to be thankful for—the bounty our farmers provide for us. We can celebrate what is special about our hometowns by having breakfast at the local dairy breakfast, supporting the local church festival, and helping our kids and grandkids prepare for the county fair. As I was writing this column, the rhubarb on our farm was ready for its first harvest, so I have also included a favorite family recipe here. My mom’s rhubarb custard pie includes milk in honor of June Dairy Month. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.