News: Neillsville - Mathis Dairy Hosting Breakfast
Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon
Surnames: Mathis, Boon, Kren
----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 6/05/2019
Mathis Dairy Hosting Breakfast Sunday (9 June 2019)
It’s All in the Family ~ Mathis Dairy Breakfast Sunday
The Mathis family milks 240 cows on their dairy farm south of Neillsville. They are inviting the public to come experience life on their farm during the Neillsville Dairy Breakfast Sunday. Family members include (front, l-r) Anita, Alaina, (back) Stacy, Gabriel, Sam, Abigail and Alyssa (not pictured). Valerie Brecht/Clark County Press
By Valerie Brecht
For the Sam and Stacy Mathis, farming and family go hand-in-hand.
“I have found it [farming] is an awesome way to raise a family,” said Stacy.
Sam and Stacy have five children. Their farm, Mathis Dairy, will be the site of this year’s Neillsville Dairy Breakfast. The breakfast will be this Sunday, June 9, from 7 a.m. to noon.
The Mathis family has a history of dairy farming that spans generations. Edison and Anita Mathis left Hooppole, Illinois in 1958 with dreams to raise their family on a farm, settling on a place just four miles south of Neillsville on Highway 73. The farm was passed on to Edison’s and Anita’s son, Howard, and his wife Kathy, in December 1979. They also raised their three children – Samuel, Elizabeth and Benjamin – on the family dairy farm.
Growing up, Sam planned to continue farming. His wife, Stacy (Boon), grew up on a farm as well.
In 1999, Sam started Countryman’s Custom Cropping with the purchase of a self-propelled windrower to swath oats and hay for seven dairy farmers. He and Stacy purchased the herd of 35 cows and 35 young stock from his parents in October 2002. In January 2005, they purchased the farm property.
“My mom and dad gave just a big opportunity to buy the farm at a young age,” said Sam.
As Sam and Stacy grew their farm, Sam did less custom work for other farms and instead focused on harvesting a timely and quality crop on their own farm. When they first bought the farm, only the original barn was there. They gradually added buildings for heifers and dry cows and a maternity pen as their herd size expanded.
One of their biggest expansions was in 2011 when they added the most cows and also built the first portion of their free stall barn. They also renovated the old barn.
In 2017, the couple made the switch to robotic milking and added on to the free stall barn to make space for the robots. The Mathis family milks 240 cows with four Lely robotic milkers. They raise all their replacement cows on site.
“It [switching to robotic milking] was the best thing we ever did,” said Sam. “I think the quality of life is getting better every day and [it is good] for the sustainability of my farm without having to expand. It allowed us to stay the same size without having to expand. Before we had to have at least five full-time employees.”
Currently, the family provides most of the labor. They have one full-time employee, three part-time high school employees and a team of summer fieldwork recruits. The high school employees come in to feed the calves and take care of the barn at night.
The family farms approximately 800 acres to feed their herd. Recently, Sam has also gotten back into custom cropping by offering chopping, hauling, and storage of forages for other local farms.
There have been a number of changes to the diary industry over the years, the main one being that production costs continue to increase, said Sam.
“You have to keep going and advancing to keep up. It’s a more competitive atmosphere,” Stacy added.
However, the Mathis family has continued to progress and build their farm.
Over the last 17 years, Sam, Stacy and their children (Alyssa, 25; Gabriel, 15; Abigail, 14; Alaina, 9; and Anita, 7) have built Mathis Dairy into a 500-head dairy. They continue to operate as a family farm and always strive to fulfill their mission:
“With a great respect for land, animals, people, and God, the mission of Mathis Dairy is to produce quality milk through the most efficient use of capital, times, and technology available.”
As the mission states, the Mathis family pouts a big emphasis on being good stewards of the land.
“Take care of the land and it’ll take care of you. And we’re stewards. We’re here to attend to God’s creation,” said Sam.
Stewardship is just one of the values the couple is seeking it instill in their children. Sam and Stacy said they were glad their kids have had the experience of growing up on a farm and that experience has already taught the kids many things, said Stacy, things like responsibility, hard work, problem solving, grit, resilience, working through problems and managing one’s finances.
“I get a lot more opportunities to do things than probably some kids in town do. I get to see nature and work with animals every day and have a lot more family time,” said daughter Abby, who is the president of her local 4-H club. Her and her brother are in FFA as well and show animals at the county fair.
“Responsibility is one of the main things that my parents have imparted to me,” Abby continued. “Because I’m going to be out of high school before I know it and living on my own and there will be a lot more responsibility to do adult things.”
Sam and Stacy ae proud of their children and who they are becoming. They are also proud to embrace farming as a way of life and all the special moments that come along with it.
“I like the new calf that’s born. I love springtime. Probably my favorite time is when I see that first corn row, that smell of dirt in the spring,” said Sam. “I like seeing genetics improve and I like producing milk. Healthy cows make good milk. The thing I like about farming is if you can dream it, you can do it.”
Sam and Stacy would like to thank their parents for their guidance and support and their children for their devotion and love of farm life “which always make the most difficult days brighter,” they said.
They would also like to give a big shout out to their employees, past and present, for their dedication to get the job done right. And lastly, they are thankful for their team of advisors who work loyally in their area of expertise.
The Mathis family has invited the public to tour the farm and observe how they are living their mission. From field to bunk, baby calf to grown cow, and udder to milk tank – they welcome everyone to experience the farm life – even if just for a few moments.
The breakfast is being sponsored by the Neillsville Chamber of Commerce, along with the Neillsville FFA and FFA Alumni.
“[These organizations] recognize the effort required to prepare the farm for this event and are grateful to the Mathis family who generously offered to host this year,” wrote Diane Kren of the chamber in a press release.
The Mathis Dairy Farm will be the site of this year’s Neillsville Dairy Breakfast, Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon. Parking will be at the Clark County Fairgrounds with a shuttle service to the farm. Valerie Brecht/Clark County Press
Breakfast will be served in the shed from 7 a.m. to noon with a menu full of items. There will be traditional plain and blueberry pancakes, special recipe scrambled eggs, sausage patties, applesauce, cheese curds, ice cream, juice, milk and coffee. The cost is $7 for adults and $3 for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. Preschoolers eat free.
After enjoying breakfast, attendees are encouraged to walk around and join in the many activities planned by the FFA students and their advisor. There will be music provided by WCCN, a Granton Area Antique Tractor Club display, bounce house and kids’ activities.
Parking with shuttle service is available from the Clark County Fairgrounds, 1121 E. Division St., Neillsville. Handicap-only parking is available on the farm, W5325 STH 73, Neillsville. For more information, call the chamber at 715.743.6444.
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