TOWN OF WOODVILLE — Like a biblical scene, the skies cleared and the showers ended just in time for a Mass on the farm June 29.
The Mass, celebrated by Fr. Timothy Brandt, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Brillion, kicked off a day in celebration of dairy farming in Calumet County as part of the state’s annual June Dairy Month. It was the county’s 29th annual “Sundae on a Dairy Farm” observance, but the first time it included a Mass. Due to wet conditions, guests were bused to the farm from Kaukauna High School.
Hosts of this year’s Sundae on a Diary Farm were the Schmidt family, owners and operators of the Grand View Dairy Farm, and members of Holy Family Parish. The family farm took root in 1917, when John and Mary Schmidt purchased 60 acres of land that included a barn and small home.
In 1930, when Mary was pregnant with her ninth child, John, Jr., her husband was killed in a gravel pit accident. With the help of family and friends, she was able to maintain the farm and in 1957, John, Jr., and his wife Nancy took over. They raised five boys and two girls and, in 1992, they and two of their sons, Bruce and Corey, formed Grand View Dairy Farm Corp.
Today, the farm that started out with 14 cows and one pig houses 1,200 dairy cows managed by a staff of 28 employees. The family also plants and harvests 1,300 acres of crops and purchases another 1,000 acres of crops from local farmers.
Corey Schmidt said that the family had been approached several times to host Sundae on a Farm. “Finally, with everything going on in agriculture, with the negativity behind big farms, we said now is the time to do it,” he said. “I’m pleased with the amount of people that came out.”
Fr. Brandt estimated that 400 people turned out for the 10 a.m. Mass. More than 2,000 people attended the day’s other celebrations, which included games for children, a petting zoo, tours of the farm and lots of dairy products to consume.
Corey and Kathy Schmidt said that including a Mass in the festivities was important to the family.
“There was a lot of hesitation about having the Mass and we really wanted it because it is a part of us,” said Corey. “We’ve had a lot of people that thanked us, which makes you feel like you did the right thing.”
“I thought it would be wonderful to share our faith with everybody else in the community, to show how much the Lord has been a part of our lives and our success and our farm,” said Kathy.
According to Corey, farming and faith go hand-in-hand.
“It’s how we’re here and why we’re here,” he said. “In farming, without faith you can’t farm. You’ve got to have a good foundation if you’re going to survive.”
In his homily, Fr. Brandt, who is a member of the diocesan Rural Life Committee, acknowledged the hard work farmers put in to succeed.
“We think of the people who came many, many years ago who broke the land, who cut trees and began small family farms,” he said. “We acknowledge those who have paved the way, those who have made it possible for families to continue the great tradition of farming, of praying for the land. We know that farming is a sense of tradition. It’s something that’s generally passed on from generation to generation as is shown by this family. It’s that firm foundation, those roots that come from a deep family that we truly celebrate today.”