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Highlights Archives

Why Are There So Many Cows in Wisconsin?


L.M. Meyer fills a trough with food for cows inside a barn at Rock Creek Farm, 1939
WHI 59767

The story of dairying in Wisconsin is the story of how our very landscape and way of life were created. By making cows the center of our farm life and learning how to care for them, our ancestors launched a revolution that changed much more than the way farmers earned their living. It changed us. Just in time for June Dairy Month, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press is proud to announce the publication of Creating Dairyland. The book's lengthy subtitle reads, "How caring for cows saved our soil, created our landscape, brought prosperity to our state, and still shapes our way of life in Wisconsin."

The cover of "Creating Dairyland"

In "Creating Dairyland," journalist, oral historian and former dairyman Ed Janus opens the pages of the fascinating story of Wisconsin dairy farming. He explores the profound idea that led to the remarkable "big bang" of dairying here a century and a half ago. He helps us understand why there are so many cows in Wisconsin, how farmers became responsible stewards of our resources, and how cows have paid them back for their efforts. And he introduces us to dairy farmers and cheesemakers of today: men and women who want to tell us why they love what they do.

Ed Janus offers a sort of field guide to Dairyland, showing us how to "read" our landscape with fresh eyes, explaining what we see today by describing how and why it came to be. "Creating Dairyland" pays tribute to the many thousands of Wisconsin farmers who have found a way to stay on their land with their cows. Their remarkable effort of labor, intelligence and faith is one of the great stories of Wisconsin — a story still being written.

:: Posted June 15, 2011

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