Croes family hosts Farm City Day
Cows, calves, pigs, chickens and much more is what you'll see at Croes Udder Dairy and J-C Croes Farm when you attend St. Croix County Farm City Day Saturday, Aug. 14, at the family farms of Gerald and Charlotte Croes and their son Jeffrey.
Their daughter Cindy and husband Steve Olson, and daughter Julie and husband Jake West and grandchildren Riley, Katie and Maddie will also welcome attendees.
Gerald (Jerry) has lived in the Deer Park area his entire life, growing up on his parents' (Larry and Mavis Croes) farm where they milked cows, raised hogs and chickens and sold eggs.
His father bought a neighboring farm of 200 acres from Edwin Warner in 1968, where Jerry and his brother Robert started milking cows and raising hogs after graduating from the Eau Claire technical college. Charlotte grew up on a dairy farm in Ashland County, attended the University of Wisconsin-Superior, and taught business in Cumberland, Osceola and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-New Richmond.
In 1973 Jerry and Char were married. They worked together with his parents on both farms and then purchased the "Warner farm" from them in 1979. It then became J & C Croes Farm.
The Croes family gradually increased the number of cows and hogs that they raised each year. They purchased the neighboring Reed Brothers Farm in 1991 and brought heifers there to graze and rented out the mobile home there for a few years. Then they started milking the freshening heifers in the barn there.
After Jeff graduated from Amery High School in 2000 and UW-Madison Farm Short Course in 2002, he moved into the mobile home on the "Reed Farm" and milked about 40 cows there while Jerry and Char milked about 40 cows at the home farm - J & C Croes Farm.
This was all very labor intensive, so they built the parlor in the fall of 2004 on the "Reed Farm," which now became Croes Udder Dairy, and started milking the combined herds there in May of 2005. Two LLCs were formed: Croes Udder Dairy (CUD - our cows love CUD!), and J-C Croes Farm. Jerry, Char and Jeff are members of both.
They now milk more than 100 cows at CUD in less than half the time it took in the two separate old stanchion barns. With feeding using a TMR mixer and shooting sand for bedding, the cows and the Croes are much happier.
Their milk is shipped to Ellsworth Creamery, where it is sold as cheese curds, butter or bottled milk.
J-C Croes Farm raises about 150 hogs from farrow to finish each year, plus raises the crops which become feed for animals at both farms.
After purchasing the abandoned railroad line and another adjoining 40 acres from a neighbor, they now farm 480 acres that they own plus rent another 95 acres from neighbors. A cousin of Jerry's and brother of Char's, as well as Steve, like to help with fieldwork - plowing, cutting and chopping hay, etc.
The Croes farm is also home to much wildlife - deer, bear, coyotes, turkeys - which frequent the woods and fields; and ducks, geese, frogs and trumpeter swans who enjoy the pond.