Joel Meier’s passion for teaching is evident whether he’s hosting a group of elementary students on his family’s dairy farm or coaching one of his kids’ sports teams. This fifth generation Iowa dairy farmer feels fortunate to have the opportunity to raise his family on the same farm where his father was raised.
“I started milking cows before I started school,” says Joel, with a smile on his face. “I always wanted to be where my dad was, so I spent a lot of time outside or in the dairy parlor with him.”
Joel’s involvement on the farm increased as he grew older. At 10 years old, Joel was responsible for feeding veal calves. Using a feeding system designed and patented by his grandfather, Joel fed the calves twice a day. The bagged milk replacer was mixed in an old bulk tank and then pumped through a hose into pails.
Martin Meier, Joel’s grandfather, was the first person to raise veal calves in Iowa. He raised 400 head at a time for 16 weeks until they reached 350 to 400 pounds for the Kosher market in Dubuque, Iowa. The Meiers raised 22,000 head of veal calves before the ‘80s Ag Crisis hit. Despite the extremely challenging conditions at the time, the Meier family was able to hold onto its main dairy operation and 500 acres of farmland.
Although Joel continued to help with the family’s row crop and dairy operations throughout high school, he also made time for sports. He was a four-year letter winner in both basketball and football. Along with being selected 1st Team All-Conference in both sports, he was also selected All-State twice in basketball. His love of the games prompted him to major in Education and earn a coaching certificate. Joel earned his degree from Buena Vista on the campus of North Iowa Area Community College (NIACC) in Mason City. Because he attended classes close to home, Joel was able to remain active in his family’s dairy operation.
“In 1993, I started getting part of the milk check and building my own herd,” said Joel. “When my grandpa retired in 2001 and moved to town, I became more involved with the dairy. Then my wife, Mindy, and I moved to the home farm.” In addition to the dairy, Joel and his parents have a wean-to-finish hog operation. They also raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa together.
Today Joel and Mindy make their home in rural Cerro Gordo County with their three children. Their oldest daughter, Morgan, is 10 years old. As a first-year 4-H member, she plans to show three calves at this summer’s county fair. Their son, Jason, is 8, and their youngest daughter, Mallery, is 5. Joel has coached both Morgan’s and Jason’s flag football teams, Morgan’s basketball team and is busy this summer coaching Jason’s baseball team.
It’s only a natural for the Meiers to be advocates for dairy consumption. They’ve hosted dairy farm tours for each of their kids’ classes and have also sponsored the local Girl Scout troop to earn the Dairy Delights badge, which involved learning about dairy cows and making foods that are made from milk. The Scouts churned butter and made ice cream in a bag, so we thought it would be fitting to share this recipe during June Dairy month. Also included below is one of Joel’s favorite dairy recipes for Strawberry Pizza.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy dairy?
Ice Cream in a Bag
- 1 T. sugar
- ½ c. Half & Half
- ¼ tsp. vanilla
- 6 T. rock salt
- 1 pint-size Ziploc plastic freezer bag
- 1 gallon-size Ziploc plastic freezer bag
How to make it:
- Fill the large bag half full of ice and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
- Put milk, vanilla and sugar into the small bag and seal it.
- Place the small bag inside of the large one and seal again carefully.
- Shake or squeeze until mixture is ice cream, about 5 minutes. The trick is to keep the mixture moving so it becomes ice cream.
- Wipe off top of the small bag, then open carefully and enjoy!