145 Years Strong: Celebrating June Dairy Month at Four Cubs Farm

GRANTSBURG, Wis. – June is Dairy Month in Wisconsin, an annual recognition for those who help feed people all over the world.

For one farm near Grantsburg, Four Cubs Farm, their livelihood of raising cows has been in the family since 1877.  The same year they were homesteaded is the same year Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.

“We’re farming some of the land that my great-great-grandparents, or great-great-great grandparents did 140 years ago,” says Ben Peterson, operations manager and a fifth-generation owner.  “Same fields, some of the same crops, feeding cows.”

Ben owns the farms with his parents, fourth generation owner Gary and Cris Peterson.  Gary has owned the farm since 1966, with Cris joining in 1973 after she and Gary married.

Four Cubs Farm was a typical small family farm until the late-90s, when the decision was made to expand their 33 head count.  “First to 70 cows, then to 200 cows, then to 400 cows, then 8, and now we’re currently at 950 cows.” says Ben.

A major change came on November 1, 2017, when a fire destroyed the original barn and their milking parlor.  It was replaced, and includes 16 robotic milking units.  Peterson says is one of many steps the farm has taken to embrace technology.  “Whether it’s GPS or our robots that do the milking, we use computers for just about everything.  If it wasn’t for technology, the people who produce the food in our country, which is now less than one-percent of us, wouldn’t be able to do it without the technology.”

The farm is also working to make itself more self-sufficient.  Peterson says they have started to sell their own beef, grown the food their cows need on their 22-hundred acres, and use the cow’s manure to fertilize the fields.  “It’s a great big cycle.  We grow food (and) goes into the cows.  The waste goes back on the field.

As for the farm’s future, there’s hope it will pass down to the sixth generation.  Both of Ben’s kids are already helping out.  “It’s very cool to have them starting to take interest,” says Ben.  “It’s kind of fun.  Again, like I said, we get to spend time together because we’re actually working together.”

People can learn more about Four Cubs Farm on Saturday, June 18, as they host the Burnett County Dairy Breakfast from 6 to noon.

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