By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — This year’s Dunn County Dairy Promotion Breakfast will be held June 6 at the Steve and Angie Olson farm, Maple Hills Dairy, on the north side of state Highway 64 near Connorsville.
“We’re honored to be the hosts this year,” said Angie Olson.
The Olsons milk 70 registered Holsteins at Maple Hills Dairy. Both Steve and Angie work full-time off the farm as well. Angie works at Bremer Bank in Menomonie, and Steve is employed by the St. Croix County Community Development Department.
Most of the Maple Hills dairy cows are black and white Holsteins, although there are two red and white Holsteins in the herd.
“We both grew up on a farm. I grew up on a dairy farm a half mile away,” Steve said.
Angie grew up on a dairy farm in the Town of Weston. Her family sold their herd of Guernsey cows when she was a freshman in high school. Her brother, the only boy in the family, decided not to continue with the farm.
“My mother actually got mauled by a cow. She got beat up pretty bad, so that was their time to quit. I think my dad was ready to try something else, so we sold the farm, sold the cows, and moved into Menomonie. I never thought I would be on a farm again. But I am so grateful that I am,” Angie said.
“I always thought I wanted to live in town, and it was convenient when I was in high school, but I was glad to get back to the farm, back to the country. We’re close to family, and it’s a great place to raise kids,” she said.
Steve and Angie have two children: a daughter, Megan, who is 12, and a son, Nick, who is 9.
After college, Steve started farming in a partnership with his parents, Warren “Pork” and Carol Olson, Steve and Angie bought their farm in 1998, raised heifers and continued to milk cows with Steve’s parents,
In 2008, the Olsons built a milking parlor, brought the cows to the farm and expanded their herd to 70 milk cows.
“Part of the reason we wanted to build the (milking) parlor is so we could hire help and have more time with family,” Steve said.
“When we milked with my parents, most of the time we had 20 cows. We built onto the barn, then we milked 28. My dad worked out full-time his whole career. They were more or less Mom’s cows,” he said.
The Olsons employ two full-time people and two part-time workers.
Steve says he enjoys both the field work and working with the cows, which includes doing most of his own vet work. Steve’s dad, who will celebrate his 80th birthday in August, enjoys doing the field work and spends up to ten hours a day driving the tractor.
“We’ve got a good crew. We could never do it by ourselves,” Steve said.
The Maple Hills Dairy cows are on pasture year around, and the youngstock are raised on pasture as much as possible. The milk cows spend 12 hours per day on pasture.
“I love waking up in the morning and coming out and seeing the cows out there, relaxing and being happy. It’s very peaceful,” Angie said.
“This time of year, we calve them on pasture too,” Steve said.
The free-stall barn is bedded with sand, and the cows always have access to the free-stall barn.
The farm includes 530 acres, of which 270 acres are tillable. About 150 acres serve as pasture “or what I call White tail country,” Steve said.
“The cows get a full TMR (Total Mixed Ration) with the pasture. They can pick and choose what they want,” Steve said.
Within the Maple Hills herd of 70 Holsteins, some of them are related to Steve’s very first 4-H project calf that he acquired when he was nine years old.
“I can trace ancestry back to that first project calf. Thirty-one years later I can trace back to that one calf. That first calf had nine calves, and she had nine heifers. One of them I have from her was our best cow last year. She had 46,000 pounds of milk,” Steve said.
Steve and Angie have given the two red and white Holsteins in the herd to their children.
“That’s how I funded my college. I started out with calves at a young age. Sold springing heifers and a cull cow here and there, and that’s what funded my college. Hopefully they can do the same,” Steve said.
“I spent two years of my life in Appleton going to school, and it just about drove me crazy, but I’m glad I did it because I cherish this so much more now. I’m definitely not a town boy,” he said.
“I love the woods and the hunting part of it too. It’s a good mix for me. The kids are getting into that too. Megan got her first deer last year in the Youth Hunt. That was an exciting night,” Steve said.
“Field work or the cows, I enjoy them both. I like something different every day,” he said.
In addition to the farm, Steve currently coaches baseball and plans to coach football in the fall.
“I have to run after the kids anyway, so I might as well coach a little bit. Just through grade school and junior high. After that I will be hands off. I want to be able to sit and watch,” Steve said.
“It’s been a big asset to us, with my parents right across the road and her parents in Boyceville … the kids have gotten off the bus at my parents’ (place) for years. They always say it takes a village to raise a family, and that’s definitely true,” he said.
Angie’s dad, Laverne Weber, is a retired bus driver and used to drive for the Menomonie and Boyceville school districts.
Angie’s mom, Donna Weber, still drives bus for Boyceville.
“We like to take our time. Personally I do a lot of hunting and some fishing. And we do a lot of camping as a family. We go to Glen Hills a couple of times a year with our family. We go to Hayward once a year and spend a week up there with family camping. We like to get our camper out as much as we can. If we were tied to the farm 100 percent, we wouldn’t have that opportunity. That’s why we have gone the way we have. We’re tied to it, but we’re not pinned down all of the time … we have to thank our hired help for that,” Steve said.
The Dunn County Dairy Promotion Breakfast begins at 7 a.m. and runs until 11 a.m. Saturday, June 6.
Maple Hills Dairy is on 190th Street about an eighth of a mile north of Highway 64 just east of Connorsville (N12588 190th Street; Boyceville WI 54725).
Steve and Angie said they were surprised to learn they had been nominated to be the host farm for the 2015 breakfast but were delighted and honored to accept.
The dairy breakfast committee has been wonderful, Angie said.
Committee members have worked so hard to make sure every detail has been taken care of, she said.
“They said to expect people here at 6:30 Saturday morning (on the day of the dairy breakfast). They said to expect 2,000 to 2,500,” Steve said.
The barn will be open so visitors to the farm can see the milking parlor.
“We have six cows due (to calve) at that time, so hopefully there will be something special, too,” Steve said.
Those who are familiar with the area know that the drive along Highway 64 provides lovely scenery with the woods and the rolling hills.
“I (told my co-workers, many of whom live in Hudson) if you’re looking for a beautiful Saturday morning drive and a stop for a great breakfast, come on out. A lot of them said they love this area with the hills and the trees,” Steve said.
“I said, where else can you get deep fried cheese curds at 7 a.m.?” he said.
The cost of the dairy breakfast is $5 per person and includes all you can eat Dad’s Belgian Waffles, cheese curds, pudding snacks, ice cream, milk and coffee.
The dairy breakfast also includes a bake sale, the Milk Buds horse drawn wagon rides, antique tractor display, petting zoo and door prizes.