Learning on the farm

Hanke Farm hosts Farm Bureau’s Classroom of the Farm event
by Verla Peichl Review Correspondent


THE USE OF FARM MACHINERY was among the topics of discussion during the annual Classroom on the Farm event at Hanke Farms in Sheboygan Falls on May 3. — Review photo by Verla Peichl THE USE OF FARM MACHINERY was among the topics of discussion during the annual Classroom on the Farm event at Hanke Farms in Sheboygan Falls on May 3. — Review photo by Verla Peichl The Classroom on the Farm event at Hanke Farms of Sheboygan Falls is always a pleasure to attend for not only the 1,000 plus students, but teachers, tour guides, station presenters and yes, the Hanke family as well.

Each year the Hankes - Jim and Jack and their wives Bonnie and Dorene - welcome all that come to learn about dairy production and what it takes to make things work and come together in an organized, profitable and healthy fashion.

The Sheboygan County Farm Bureau has been organizing this event for the past five years for third and fourth graders to help them learn about milking equipment, animal health and nutrition needs and bringing good healthy Wisconsin dairy products to the shelves of the grocery stores.


MARY ANDRE of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board spoke to area students about the healthy foods made from dairy products, during the annual Classroom on the Farm event at Hanke Farms in Sheboygan Falls on May 3. — Review photo by Verla Peichl MARY ANDRE of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board spoke to area students about the healthy foods made from dairy products, during the annual Classroom on the Farm event at Hanke Farms in Sheboygan Falls on May 3. — Review photo by Verla Peichl “We are a family farm and hope you learn something,” Jack Hanke, co-owner of Hanke Farms, told the students. “We hope you have some fun and we want you to be able to see that we produce good, quality products.”

The tours begin with groups going to specific stations. The numbers of kids on each tour was kept small enough so questions can be asked and answered easily and in an orderly fashion.

Station 1 was the milking parlor where Eileen Perronne told the students how the cows are walked into the parlor and milked.

She said this process takes 21 hours with the cows milked three times a day and three hours added on for cleaning.

“It is the job of a farmer, in this case Jim and Jack, to produce the highest quality food product possible for the consumer,” Perronne said. “As a farmer, this means raising healthy animals to produce a healthy product.”

Station 2 was presented by Nutritionist Brian Walsh, who told the students how cows need to eat healthy to stay healthy

Station 3 was presented by Veterinarian Chris Booth, also known as “the cow doctor.”

Booth explained how the Hankes recognize when an animal isn’t feeling well, what they do to learn what is specifically wrong and how to fix it.

Station 4, which focused on he role of farm machinery, was presented by Jonathon Anhalt.

This area seemed to be of specific interest to the boys in the group. Anhalt quizzed the groups about how much gas cost, as they eyed the large machinery with great interest.

There were gasps of amazement when Anhalt told them that it would cost $1,000 a day to run the large chopper that was displayed in front of them.

“We have a storage area for the manure and it holds 8 million gallons,” said Anhalt. “Then at the end of the year it is hauled out onto the fields where it will be worked back into the fields for fertilizer. This is just one of the ways we keep the land healthy and useful to grow crops.”

A quote from the Hankes proved that as farmers, Earth Day is essential, not only one day, but every day.

“We depend on the land for our farming and our quality of life,” Jim said.

Station 5 featured a day in the life of a cow, presented by Liz Gartman.

She told the students about how the cows live in a free stall barn, which means they aren’t tied up. As a result, they can move around to eat and drink as they wish to.

“If a cow is lying down, chewing her cud, this means she is a healthy and happy cow,” said Gartman.

Station 6, titled “The Farmer’s Goal,” was presented by Jack Hanke.

“Hi! I’m farmer Jack and I’m here to talk to you about animal agriculture and my farm,” said Hanke. “I hope to be able to give you a better understanding of what happens on our farm, so that you can feel as secure as I do about the quality of milk my family and I produce for you that is sold at the grocery store or your school.”

The Hanke farm is a fifth generation farm and the family enjoys every aspect of it as each person has their own special duty to fulfill.

“Farming is not just my job, it is my passion” said Jack Hanke, “I wouldn’t wake up at 5 every morning it I didn’t love it.

“I appreciate that I get to work every day with animals and with the land,” he said. “I’m proud to produce the food my family and friends eat, and to know that it is healthy and safe.”

Station 7, which covered baby calves, was presented by Heidi Hanke Taylor, who explained many things about calves as well as the calf barn.

She discussed the specifics of what it takes to raise a healthy calf. She explained everything from individual pens, to the importance of sunlight and ventilation in the building.

Station 8 proved to be the most interactive area.

It was where Marlene Kammann instructed the students about how to milk a cow by hand. She informed the students that cows can give 6-9 gallons of milk per day.

Station 9 closed the tour with Dairy Council Representative Mary Andre, who told the students about the importance of dairy products and how they are a necessary part of good nutrition.

“Farmer’s are stewards of 59 percent of the county’s land. Andre said. “Sheboygan County farmers own and manage 191,719 acres, or 59 percent, of the county’s land. This includes cropland, pasture, tree farms, farm forests and wetlands.

“As stewards of the land, farmers use conservation practices, such as crop rotation, nutrient management and integrated pest management to protect environmental resources and provide habitat for wildlife.”


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