Christmas in Dairyland: True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm

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9781591133667: Christmas in Dairyland: True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm

Celebrate the Christmas season with twenty true stories from a simpler time, forty years ago, when happiness was baking cookies, decorating the Christmas tree, or even just getting out of wearing snow boots to school.

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Forty years ago when I was a little girl growing up on our dairy farm in west central Wisconsin, I thought everyone lived on a farm. Then again, many of my kindergarten classmates lived on farms, too, so maybe I wasn't completely off base.

Later on, however, after I had graduated from high school and started traveling around the United States, I was hard-pressed to meet anyone who had ever been on a dairy farm, much less lived on one. People would ask me where I was from and when I told them Wisconsin, they'd say, "I suppose you lived on a dairy farm."

After a while, it became clear to me that for people in other states, 'Wisconsin' and 'dairy farm' were synonymous. I would explain that not everyone in Wisconsin lives on a dairy farm, and then I would find myself answering questions about what it was like growing up on a farm.

Today, most of the small family dairy farms like the one where I grew up are gone. My parents milked 20 cows, but farmers can no longer make a living that way. Milk prices have essentially stayed the same since the 1970s, and many small farmers decided to sell their dairy herds when their business expenses ended up exceeding their gross farm income year after year.

Even though most of the small family farms have disappeared, the evidence that they once existed remains -- in the empty dairy barns scattered around the countryside -- in the pastures that have been turned into residential subdivisions -- in the creameries that have been abandoned or converted into other uses. And in my stories about growing up on a Wisconsin dairy farm.

LeAnn R. Ralph; Colfax, Wisconsin

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Celebrate Christmas during a simpler time when happiness was baking cookies, learning to make lefse, decorating the Christmas tree, or even just getting out of wearing snow boots to school.

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