AVOCA — Dan and Jody Miller and their family live and breathe agriculture. All eight of their children are involved in one way or another — son Kegan is a mechanic at Ritchie’s in Cobb; daughter Kayla works at Monroe Surge. Another daughter Kassy works on the farm feeding calves and milking and daughter Karmyn has just been named the Iowa County Dairy Ambassador. Derek also helps on the farm, as do Makayla, Rachel and Kolton, who love to take care of the animals.
As for Mom and Dad, Dan is the third generation on Miller Time Farms in rural Avoca, with Jody also growing up on a farm in rural Iowa County.
“We have a long line of farmers,” Jody said, adding that Dan’s father lives nearby and also helps at the farm, as does Dan’s brother, Scott, who works full time at the farm. “And it’s definitely a group effort.”
From a young age, Jody knew she wanted to host a dairy breakfast after watching her parents host twice in the past 20 years on their own farms. So when representatives from Iowa County asked if the Millers would host this year’s breakfast, Jody told them yes right away.
Dan was a bit reluctant, but found the breakfast to be a great opportunity to invite the public to see their recently expanded operation and their passion and love for the cows they care for every day.
In 2015, the Millers built a new milking facility, which maximized cow comfort and allowed their herd size to grow. They are now milking about 230 cows three times a day in a double-12 milking parlor. Their milk goes to Dairy Farmers of America and then into cheese products at Meister Cheese Co. in Muscoda.
There’s no typical day on the farm, Jody said, although mornings always begin with the first milking and a general herd check. After milking, the Millers tend to the calves; there are 50 of them on the premises now. Before long, it’s time for the afternoon milking and later the third shift.
Dan, who also works for AgriKing, does all the nutrition work and also has a hand in the breeding program. He has always had a passion for milk cows and after trying to work off the farm after high school, he realized he wanted to continue the family farming tradition.
His grandfather bought the farm in 1951; in 1980, Dan’s father bought the farm and in 2000, Dan purchased it from his father. He loves working with family and seeing his children working on the farm, especially as they get older.
“They learned from us and what we were doing,” he said.
The Millers also have 600 acres of cropland, growing primarily alfalfa and corn, some shell and some for silage. Jody enjoys being in the tractor out in the field; being in the tractor in the summertime helps her get through the winter each year, she said.
Dan has seen a lot of changes on his home farm over the years, and in agriculture in general. When he was a kid, they milked using buckets; then in 1976, the pipeline went in and was upgraded again in 1999.
Their old stall barn was built in 1913 and although no longer housing the whole herd, it is now used as maternity pens for the cows. Every building on the property is being used for something, Jody said.
“What used to take an hour can take less than five minutes now,” he said. “Things have changed a lot. And farming definitely has changed.”
Dan admits there can be a lot of 16- to 18-hour days on the farm, but he feels the most accomplished when he settles in, tired after a long day.
“Farming is a lot like any self-employed business — you have to like what you’re doing,” he said. “If you don’t have a passion for it, it’s tough to make a future of it.”
The Millers hope those who visit their farm for the dairy breakfast on June 2 can see the passion they have for their farm.
“We worked really hard to get here,” Jody said. “We put a lot of sweat into the facilities and we’re proud of it. We’re proud of the cattle too; we love the cows and want everyone to know it.”
If you go
What: Iowa County Dairy Breakfast.
When: Saturday, June 2, 6:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Where: Miller Time Farms, 1796 Fairview Road, Avoca.
Menu: Pancakes, eggs, sausage, Wisconsin cheese, yogurt, applesauce, milk and Culver’s frozen custard sundaes.
Activities: Live music by Staff Infection, balloon artists, kids corner, face painting, petting zoo, cow train, a tour of the farm and an antique tractor display by the Iowa County Antique and Collectors Club.
Cost: Adults, $6; children 5-10, $4; under 4, free.