WATERTOWN, Wis. — Tuesday, Oct. 12 is National Farmers Day and in Wisconsin there's no shortage of them.
The Badger State boasts nearly 65,000 farms in all.
But family-owned dairy farms have faced a tougher road than others. There used to be tens of thousands of them, but now there are fewer than 7,000 left, with hundreds closing last year alone. However, one family farm has been able to keep their family blood running the farm for many generations.
Christine Bender has been around cows her whole life. She was raised in a dairy farm family on the McFarlandale Dairy Farm in Watertown.
“It’s pretty incredible it’s definitely an honor to know that all the generations before me poured their hearts and souls into this farm and for me to have the opportunity to do the same,” Bender said.
Christine is now the sixth generation taking over the farm. She’s the owner and herd manager of nearly 900 dairy cows.
“To me it’s not just a career it’s a lifestyle. There is no punching the clock here its 24/7, 365. We try to take care of these animals and in turn they will take care of us,” Bender said.
Throughout the years their family farm has found ways to innovate and advance the family farm with a focus on sustainability with their water silos to reclaim water from their milk coolers.
“That’s just another insurance for us that this farm will be able to do well and be around for generations to come,” Bender said.
The next generation is already in training. Christine’s daughter Annabel is already finding her love of animals at just one and a half. She hopes her daughter can find the love and passion she grew up with and carry the farm onto a seventh generation.
“It’s pretty surreal. It’s cool to see her go right up to them and give the hugs and pets and kisses its pretty cool,” Bender said.