Grass grows green for this southwestern Wisconsin dairyman on the hillside, but it certainly doesn’t grow under his feet!
The motto, “We get ‘er done fast,” is printed on Dean Paulson’s customized shirt, and there’s good reason for it. He’s got things to do, people to see, and places to go.
Dean is the third generation to raise dairy cattle on his family’s farm near Belmont. When he graduated from high school in 1996, Dean bought 20 milk cows and added them his father’s herd of 75. The two milked for about seven years in a double-five parlor before they started expanding. Today the Paulsons milk 350 cows. They fatten 200 Holstein steers each year and have an average of 60 calves on milk at all times. In addition, they have a custom hay business plus raise corn and soybeans.
“I really enjoy the challenge of operating a dairy farm,” says Dean. “I enjoy being outdoors. I enjoy working with animals and am intrigued with animal productivity.”
Dean’s dad, Duane, stepped down from managing the dairy in 2000, but he didn’t step away from the business. He still comes to work before sun up every morning and works as many hours as he ever did.
“My dad loves fixing equipment and doing maintenance. Those aren’t things I enjoy, so our arrangement works out well,” says Dean. “Dad gets a lot of help from my father-in-law, Jim Reiter, who joined our operation in 2007. The two of them really get along, so they often work on projects together.”
In addition to the three family members, Paulson Farms LLC supports three, full-time employees. One employee is primarily responsible for milking, one grinds feed and the other cares for the calves.
The Paulsons built a calf nursery in the spring of 2010, and Deans says it’s the best investment they’ve made in the past 10 years. Death loss decreased dramatically once the calves had a facility that was built – not retrofitted – for them. Ventilation is much better, especially in the heart of winter and the heat of summer.
This nursery is just one step the Paulsons have taken to grow their dairy over the past decade. They also expanded their parlor to a double-12. Their cows went through this new parlor for the first time on Dec. 15, 2007, only to have it burn to the ground on Jan. 1, 2009.
Fighting a fire isn’t the way anyone would choose to start off a new year, but true to their motto, the Paulsons rebuilt as soon as possible. Fortunately, the cement of the parlor wasn’t damaged. Their contractor put all of his crews on the job and, within three months, the Paulsons were again milking on their home farm in a new double-12 parlor.
Just 14 months after the new parlor was built, the Paulsons completed a free-style barn. The timing of this project couldn’t have been better as Dean’s uncle in Illinois was looking to move his herd. Two weeks after the free-style barn was complete, Dean moved in his uncles’ cows.
With so many projects underway at a time – and with so many decisions to be made on a daily basis –Dean needs a seed company to deliver more than just seed.
“I really like that Steve Bailie (Latham’s regional sales manager) talked with me about my operation and my ground before he ever tried to sell me seed,” says Dean. “Steve knows where to place Latham’s products and how to manage them for maximum performance. He has the crop expertise that I need.”
Running a diversified operation means Dean forms strategic partnerships and relies on specialists. He also understands the importance of helping support the products he produces, and that’s why dairy foods are a staple in his household. Dean, and his wife, Jessica, are the proud parents of two sons: Tanner, 7, and Trenton, 3. Jessica also works off-farm as branch manager for a local bank.
One of the family’s favorite desserts is Double Chocolate Brownies with cream cheese frosting that Dean’s mom, Dolores, likes to make. This recipe sounds so rich and delicious that I can’t wait to try it. Lucky for me, I already have the ingredients on hand!
Double Chocolate Brownies
1 package brownie mix
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) butter, melted
2 large eggs
1, 12-oz. package of mini chocolate chips (divided)
In a large bowl, combine brownie mix, sour cream, melted butter and eggs; mix well. Fold in 1 ½ cups of mini chips. Spread batter in a buttered, 9 x13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes – do not over bake. Cool and top with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 cups powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese chilled, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine powered sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt. Mix just until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled brownies and top with remaining ½ cup mini chips. Cut into squares. Enjoy!