All in the family: The women of Farm Technology Days
By Kris Leonhardt
On July 10-12, the 2018 Farm Technology Days will take place just outside of Marshfield. The event will be a culmination of three years of work by many volunteers, but were it not for a small group of local ladies the event’s foundation may have been laid out someplace else.
“In April of 2015, the county had to apply to be the host county. Once Wood County got it, they put out an application for farms,” said Heather Heiman.
Heather Heiman is the daughter of Daryl and Brenda Sternweis and one of the common denominators among the families involved in this year’s Farm Technology Days, as Heather is married to Josh Heiman, son of Ken and Joellen Heiman, and nephew of Kelvin and Marilyn Heiman.
“Right away when the idea was being tossed around, Dad and Kenny looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, that would be something good to do together,’” Heather explained.
“All of the sudden the application was due at 4:30 p.m. on (a certain) day. I said, ‘If we are going to do this, we’ve got to get this done by 4 p.m.’ Dad was like, ‘Just go fill them out.’
“So here Mom and I are answering all of these questions.”
Brenda and Heather struggled to fill out the application, but got it in on time.
The Wood County Executive Committee then toured all six farm groups that had applied in the county. The committee looked at acreage, traffic flow, suitable drainage on the land, and access to land.
“It was announced on October 21, 2015,” recalled Heather. “We were in the barn all day, because we had just started the facility and then that afternoon we had the media day, and then that night we had another load of cows coming that were new.”
Heather’s parents, D & B Sternweis Farm, and her in-laws and extended family, the Heimans, had been chosen for the 2018 Farm Technology Days event.
Daryl & Brenda’s D & B Sternweis Farm is a fifth-generation family farm that is known for its technological advancements. The farm had the area’s first free stall barn and milking parlor in 1965 and recently constructed a modern free stall barn and rotary milking parlor.
The Heiman Family has a long history in the dairy industry, with over 50 years in the cheese business with Nasonville Dairy. Heiman Holsteins is the beginning of the next generation in farming, a dairy farm featuring a modern 40-cow rotary parlor and exhibition area with long-term plans to feature an on-farm education center.
Joellen Heiman grew up at Weber’s Farm Store, a fifth generation family farm.