- Associated Press - Monday, December 22, 2014

CLARKS MILLS, Wis. (AP) - Farming has been good to Steve Leitner.

Not only has it allowed the rural Clarks Mills man - whose Marsh Edge Dairy is located near the Collins Marsh - to work in an industry he enjoys, it also indirectly introduced him to his wife, Mary, to whom he’s been married for the last 32 years.

“I met her in the barn,” Steve said, recalling their first meeting when Mary, who was working as a large-animal veterinarian, made a call to his farm.

The couple eventually got married and had two children - Anthony, who’s 21, and a daughter, Supriya, who’s 17.

Today, the couple works together on the farm and shares a love of the farming lifestyle, HTR Media (http://htrne.ws/1wIEFeo ) reported.

“It’s doing what we like to do,” Mary said.

Mary now works as the farm’s veterinarian and takes care of the herd’s health needs, including pregnancy checks and other reproductive issues, as well as assuring the overall health of their 100 or so Holstein cows and heifers.

The Leitner’s children help out on the farm when they can. They also have one full-time employee and some high-school students who help on the weekends with the farm’s twice-a-day milking duties.

Mary, who grew up on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin, also pitches in where needed beyond her veterinarian duties.

Steve has been living on the farm since 1974 when, as a senior in high school, his family moved to the farm he now owns.

“We had a farm before that in the School Hill area,” Steve said.

Eventually, Steve took over the farm from his dad.

And while the family raises black-and-white Holsteins, their farm features some Holsteins of a different color. When Steve bought the farm from his dad, he acquired a group of calves in the deal that included a red-and-white Holstein.

“That’s how I started with red-and-white Holsteins,” Steve said. “I liked their color, and I thought, ‘What would make mine any different than all the black-and-white Holsteins?’ And the red and white one we had really milked good.”

And while the color of his herd might be different, Steve noted that there really wasn’t any milk quality difference between the black-and-white Holsteins and the red-and-white Holsteins.

While Mary and Steve have continued to keep some red-and-white Holsteins, they have made many other changes.

“I put up a silo and a piece on the barn a year before I bought the farm in 1980. In 1981 I bought the farm and in 1988 we put up a heifer barn and in 1990 we put in a manure pit. In 1992 and 1997 we put up silos,” Steve said.

In addition, in 1995 they built a new house on the property, and in 2002 another barn was added.

“We’re good where we’re at right now,” Steve said.

Modern technology has also been introduced.

“We have automatic take-offs now for milking, and a pipeline. When I was growing up we had buckets and carried the milk. I suppose it’s changed a lot in a way,” Steve said.

The Leitners also use a computerized cart-feeding system that moves around the barn on a track, stopping at each cow and giving the appropriate amount of feed to each animal. The family has been using this system in their tie-stall barn since 1992.

“This is the only one in the county that I know of that comes to the cow,” Steve said, noting that it has saved them on time and feed cost, while milk production has gone up.

“It kind of customizes the feeding to the cow,” he added.

___

Information from: HTR Media, http://www.htrnews.com

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