GRANTON, WI (OnFocus) – The Granton FFA Alumni is taking their dairy breakfast back out on to the farm on Sunday, June 5, as Jim and Caroline Walter and family will be hosting the event at JC Walter Farm. The farm is located at N5136 Pray Avenue, Granton and breakfast will be served from 7 AM until 12:30 PM.
Jim and Caroline, and their two daughters Hannah and Megan were originally scheduled to host the breakfast in 2020, but due to covid, the event was cancelled. Hannah graduated that year so they thought it would be a great idea to clean up the shed for the party and breakfast the same year. Well, it is Megan’s year to graduate now, so they volunteered to host the breakfast under the same premise.
The Walter’s story highlights a marriage of 22 years this upcoming September. As a city girl from Marshfield, Caroline joked that she definitely “married for love” because she had no idea what it would be like to be a farm wife and her only farm experience prior to meeting Jim, was the round barn at the Central Wisconsin fair. Jim and Caroline met in 1998 and they spent many dates in the tractor in order to spend time together and Jim said “Caroline just kind of jumped in and helped with chores as needed, so we could get done in time to go out for dinner”. This was the beginning of raising of a family on the farm, making many memories, some very happy and some very challenging.
Jim wanted to be a farmer all of his life so his dad, Butch, acquired this farm of 80 acres, which was attached to the family farm in 1989. When Jim graduated from high school, he then began working the operation with an agreement of being a 50/50 operation, until he later eventually purchased the full farm from his dad in 1997. The Walters currently own 178 acres, which includes 163 acres of cropland and 15 acres of woods. They also rent 350 acres from the neighbors. They raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa on the farm for cattle feed and they cash crop as well. They utilize both silos and bags for feed storage on the farm.
Those silos eventually proved to be one of those, very challenging memories the family shared. Caroline remembered very vividly at tat 9:30 am, on Friday, October 13, 2000, she got a call from her mother-in-law, Judy, to let her know that Jim had and accident and the ambulance was on the way. Judy was helping with morning chores on the farm during those days and happened to be there to witness Jim falling down from the silo, in the poly funnel chute. Jim says he remembers going up the recently filled silo that day, opening the door and suddenly not feeling well. He then remembers nothing else. Jim was immediately overcome by silo fermentation gases upon opening the chute door and he fell head first down the chute where he eventually got stuck in the funnel, with his shoulders pinned. They noted that likely saved his life as the conveyor was still running at the bottom of the chute. Judy was able to pull him from the chute and called the ambulance where he was transported to the hospital. They were so fortunate that Jim only suffered minor scrapes, cuts and bruises. He did sustain a concussion and does not remember much of the event, still to this day, and did sustain a back compression injury that causes aches and pains to this day. He joked that he has become the family weather man as he really feels it when the weather changes. Jim had to stay in the house for a week after the fall in order to heal, so his brothers came and helped with milking and chores. Caroline noted that this happened just 27 days after they were married, making her very aware of the many dangers associated with the farming career. They also shared that in 2018 Jim had another accident as he was unplugging a chopper box head, a pipe wrench let loose and hit him in the center of the head, causing a traumatic brain injury, that resulted in 13 staples, whiplash and a concussion. He does not remember anything from that accident, but wanted to share some advice for young farmers starting out today. He said “Take your time on the farm. Time is your best friend. It doesn’t pay to hurry. And, make sure to get a good night’s sleep.”
Besides raising crops, Jim and Caroline also raise cattle on the farm. They currently average about 50 to 60 milking cows and they raise their own replacement heifers, as well as purchasing some from Richard Vine. Any bull calves are also raised, most of which are sold to market at 400 to 600 pounds as feeder cattle, with a few being raised for meat for family and friends. Daughter Megan has also begun her own herd of beef of Shorthorn cattle, raising 3 of her own and sharing one with her sister Hannah, who also has another one of her own. This beef program has proven to be one of the happy farm memories for the family as they show cattle at the Clark County fair, Central Wisconsin State fair, Northern Wisconsin State fair, state Jackpot show and Black River Falls spring thaw show. Having this hobby of showing cattle takes lots of time and work, but the whole family loves to see how their animals do in the showring. Megan had Grand Champion at the county fair last year.
Besides cattle, the Walter family also raise hogs. They currently own 4 sows and 2 boars and approximately 25 feeder hogs. Those feeders are raised out and then sold as butcher hogs to the market and family and friends. The daughters also have exhibited some hogs at the county fair and the family donates one hog for processing each year for the Granton FFA Alumni bowling tournament in the spring, to be used as a door prize. They have also started to dabble in sheep production as Megan owns 3 ewes and 4 lambs that she houses at Kevin and Ann Lindow’s place. She exhibits them at the fair also.
When people arrive on the farm for the breakfast, they can expect to see several buildings on the property. The breakfast itself will be held in the shed just north of the house. This is a 48 x 120 shed, originally only 80 feet long, with an addition of 40 feet about 15 years ago. In the spring of 1990, they remodeled the barn by replacing and adding stalls, and installing a pipeline milking system. Their neighbors had a barn fire that summer, so they let them use their barn for milking until they could rebuild. Jim then began milking in the barn on his own, starting with 16 cows. Since acquiring the farm, they have also added a pipeline milking system, replacement shed and hog barn.
Jim and Caroline are excited to host the breakfast for the alumni. They are both lifetime members of the Granton FFA Alumni. Jim was a Wisconsin Star Farmer candidate while in school and both he and his daughters served the FFA chapter as an officer. Caroline currently serves the alumni chapter as their secretary. Jim and Caroline were presented the distinguished service award this past fall from the Granton FFA chapter. They will be hosting the alumni chapter’s summer night out on the farm as well in June. Caroline is currently employed at Granton school, completing her 7th years as a special education teacher aid. Before that she worked at Marshfield Clinic, but she chose to quit that to pursue more time at home to enjoy their children and assist at the farm.
At this time, the family is busy preparing for the breakfast. The current plans are to park on the actual breakfast site, but they do have an alternative plan for parking at school in the event of inclement weather. There would then be busing available to the site. There will be handicap parking available at the site no matter what.
Breakfast includes pancakes (provided by Princess Pancakes), special eggs, cheese curds, sausage, ice cream, applesauce, maple syrup, butter, milk, juice and coffee. The cost is $ 7.00 adults, $ 4.00 children and preschool are free. In addition to breakfast, there will be a petting zoo and corn pit for children and musical entertainment from the Balsam Road Ramblers to enjoy.
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