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Wisconsin Dairymen's Association / Tenth annual report of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association : held at Sheboygan, Wis., January 11-13, 1882. Report of the proceedings, annual address of the president, and interesting essays relating to the dairy interests
(1882)

Hoard, W. D.
The influence dairying has had in Wisconsin, upon the farm, the farmer, and the community at large,   pp. 63-68 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 65

 
Tni INFUBZNc DAIRYING H AS HAD IN WISCONSIN.  65 
yield of wheat fell off from 1850 to 1870 full fifty per cent.; great 
broad, unsightly fields of plowed land blotched the face of autumn 
the fenees had an air of apology for being there; there was a pain- 
ful oolk of irresolution about them. There were no barns. In 
smal, uncomfortable houses lodged the farmer and his children, 
and there was a look everywhere of cheerless, uni nviting expan- 
sivenes. 
The western farmer in those days cared nothing for that well 
ordered beauty of expression in his surroundings that is always a 
sure indication of handsome thrift. Dismal as this picture may 
appear, it is true; but that is not all; the farmer was soon con- 
fronted with the ugly fact that he was growing poorer. The unre- 
lenting current of a wasteful method of farming was drifting him, 
and the entire comw unity with him, to poverty and discouragement 
As the Frenchman said about his burning house, " Zat ting vas 
getting no petter very fat. " 
Added to all this came the habits of extravagance, engendered 
by the high priees of the war, so tkat about 1870 there was a gen- 
eral awakening to the fact that we must have more revenue. Both 
the yield and the price of our products were fast lessening, and 
between the upper and lower grind of these facts the farmer was 
being ground to powder. A great many sought relief by migrating 
still farther west, where they could tackle another virgin soil and 
continue the same methods. At this juncture, a few of the more 
thoughtful and representative farmers, uniting with others who had 
the cause deeply at heart, commenced advocating a change. To 
better illustrate what I have to say, I will take the single county of 
Jefferson, as one of the prominent dairy districts of the state, and 
by it illustrate the character of the change that came wherever 
dairying has been practiced. 
In 1870 the entire property valuation of Jefferson county was 
$10,511,377, and its population over thirty- five thousand. It was 
one of the oldest counties in the state, possessed of a fair soil, but, 
owing to the causes I have cited, agriculture was in a very de- 
presed  se. 
At this time there was in the county, all told, eleven thousand 
cows, and the census returns of that year report the product of 
those cows at nearly one million pounds of butter and about fifty 
thousand pounds of cheese, with a total value of $75,000. But this 


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