Meet the farm family: Hill Valley Farm to host Monroe County Dairy Breakfast

Jeannie Jones, Matt Biermeier, Brian Friske, Dwight Kramzusch and Cylee Friske will host the Monroe County Dairy Breakfast at Valley Hill Farm in rural Kendall. (Contributed photo)


Brian Friske’s grandparents, Bernard and Leila, founded the farm in 1949. They are pictured here in 1988. (Contributed photo)


County Line Publisher Emeritus

Who else but a dairy farmer could you call and tell, “I’m bringing 2,500 people over for breakfast in six weeks, so please be ready”?

Really? Yes, really. As Craig Giraud, Monroe County Dairy Committee chairman pointed out, others who had indicated interest in hosting dropped away as June 3 drew closer. Finally, in desperation, Ron Mitchell of DHIA contacted Brian Friske. Two years ago, the dairy breakfast had been in Kendall, but as time slipped away, location became a non-issue. 

In fact, Valley Hill Farm is so remote, one of the farm’s property lines is the border with Juneau County. The house, perched on a hillside above a broad valley, offers magnificent views and will present a challenge to setting up the tents and displays for the breakfast.

The farm might have lacked some aesthetic touches, but the problem was soon solved when 45 volunteers showed up a few weeks ago to plant flowers, paint, polish and fix up. 

Anything to put a celebratory twist on what has been a dark year for the dairy industry. A milk surplus and falling prices have left many producers scrambling to make ends meet. A further blow, according to Friske, is a U.S.-Canada trade dispute over what’s called “ultra-filtered milk,” a protein liquid concentrate used to make cheese. Grassland said it lost its Canadian business when Canada changed its dairy policies to favor domestic milk over a supply from the United States. Friske said many of his fellow Grassland producers already have received letters from Grassland cancelling their contracts with producers. 

Between a reduction in prices and increases in expenses, Friske estimates he lost $4 per hundredweight in one week. This leaves producers on the horns of a dilemma: increase production for more cash flow, thereby adding to the milk glut, or struggle along, trying to meet ever-increasing expenses?

“You would not do this unless you loved it,” Friske noted. And love it he does. His mother, Janice Friske, recalled the toddler she kept occupied with a pile of shell corn on the living room floor. By the time chores were over, he was to have it harvested.

“I did get it done on time,” he said with a chuckle.

Valley Hill Farm was founded in 1949 by Friske’s grandparents, Bernard and Leila. They bought 120 acres of farmland and milked 20 cows while also working off the farm, Bernard at Badger Ordnance and Leila as a nurse. 

In 1971, Friske’s son and daughter-in-law, Richard and Janice, joined the operation and expanded the herd to 46 cows. They bought the farm in 1976 and raised their family there. 

Brian Friske, a bachelor, bought the farm from his parents in 1991, adding a total-mixed-ration mixer and tower silos. He has kept the herd small enough to fit in his barn without having to rotate cows.

“I milk only what the barn will hold, which is 58 cows. Together with the dry cows, we have about 70 total, and then there are about 90 heifers,” he said.

One of the things Friske says keeps him going is providing show cows to his daughter and friends.  Last year, he took 16 head to the Juneau County Fair and plans to take as many as he can to the fair again this year.

Friske gets help with the farm from Jeannie Jones. The two are lifelong neighbors and grew up together. When mistaken for a married couple, Jones laughed and quipped, “Oh, no, we would kill each other.” 

Twenty cows of the herd belong to Jones. Friske also has two hired hands, Matt Biermeier and Dwight Kramzusch. Help also comes from Friske’s daughter, Cylee. 

Although the dairy breakfast rotates its location among different-sized farms, Giraud concedes that the smaller farms are very popular. Alas, they are also disappearing, and this is one opportunity to observe an endangered species up and close, plus have a very good meal for little money!

If you go:

What: Monroe County Dairy Breakfast

When: 7–11 a.m. Saturday, June 2

Where: Valley Hill Farm, 25635 Morningside Road, Kendall

Menu: Ham and cheese omelets, pancakes, Culver’s strawberry sundaes, coffee cake, cookies, buttered toast, cheese, coffee and milk

Activities: Opening ceremony at 8:30 a.m., educational displays, children’s activities, dairy-barn viewing, antique-tractor display, horse-drawn wagon rides and an animal exhibit

Cost: Adults, $5; children 6–10, $3; 5 and younger, free



Comments are closed.

  • Ontario home catches fire

    17 hours ago

    A residence is on fire on S. Garden Street (Highway 131) in Ontario. The Cashton, Wilton and Ontario fire departments have responded to the blaze.

    Injured great-horned owl makes significant progress

    November 15th, 2018

    Although last week’s report on the health of the owl found shot in Wilton last month was a bit worrisome, it appears things are looking up for our feathered friend.

    Book review: Louise Penny’s ‘Bury Your Dead’

    November 15th, 2018

    Prologue: I often review books from mystery series. Since each book is usually written as standalone story (that make sales more likely), my suggested approach is that if a review interests you, get the book and read it.

    Monroe County and World War I: ‘The War to End War’ | Part VI: ‘The War Ends’

    November 15th, 2018

    By November 1918, the United States had been engaged in the Great War for almost 19 months. In that time, more than 1,000 boys and men from Monroe County had joined the service, either through enlistment or the draft.

    Free use of copier available for Ontario flood victims

    November 15th, 2018

    At the Village of Ontario clerk’s office, a copier is available for flood victims to copy receipts, forms, etc., that they need to file their claims.

  • Flood-recovery meeting slated for Tuesday at KVR

    November 9th, 2018

    A flood-recovery follow-up meeting is set for 4–6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve Visitor Center meeting room, 10 miles south of Ontario and one mile north of La Farge on Highway 131.

    Book review: ‘The Cruelest Month’ by Louise Penny

    November 9th, 2018

    Finally! The Arnot case has been hanging over Chief Inspector Gamache since the first book in the series.

    Mr. Owl gets plucked

    November 8th, 2018

    An owl found in Wilton on Oct. 16 that had suffered a gunshot wound continues to reside at the Coulee Region Humane Society in Onalaska, where the staff this week plucked all of the feathers around the wound to foster better cleaning and faster healing.

    Monroe County and World War I: ‘The War to End War’ | Part V: Loyalty and anti-German sentiment on the homefront

    November 8th, 2018

    Author’s note: The United States is recognizing the centennial of its involvement in World War I (April 1917 until the armistice on Nov. 11, 1918).

    Election 2018 results

    November 6th, 2018

    A breakdown of local election results

    Local schools’ Veterans Day programs set for Monday

    November 6th, 2018

    Local school districts will offer Veterans Day programs at the following times on Monday, Nov. 12.

  • Local Weather

  • Facebook

  • [Advertisement.]
  • Archives