It had been 12 years since the Raethke family had hosted a dairy breakfast on their R Green Acres farm. So when they heard the Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council had host farms lined up for the next few years but were still looking for a host for the 2019 breakfast, the Raethkes decided to take another turn as hosts.
“We had a great time hosting it last time,” Chuck Raethke said. “It had been a few years, and we’re all getting a little more up there in age, so we decided it was a good time.”
The Pepin County Town and Country Dairy Breakfast will be June 15 from 7 to 11 a.m. at R Green Acres farm, W8667 Raethke Lane, Pepin. The farm is owned by brothers Jon, Jeff and Chuck Raethke and their families. Jeff’s son Jacob joined his father and uncles on the farm about three years ago, Chuck said.
The Raethkes milk 200 registered Holsteins twice a day in a double-10 parlor. The Raethkes raise their own replacement heifers and have about 450 registered Holsteins on the farm. They farm about 1,000 acres, with 600 acres in crops.
“I can’t promise we’ll have a calf born like we did last time we hosted the breakfast, but we do have a couple due right around that time,” Chuck Raethke said.
The Raethkes’ R Green Acres has hosted the breakfast once before, in 2007. Chuck Raethke said the family decided in March to host the breakfast, which has them on a tighter deadline but he expected the farm to be ready.
“There’s always something that needs a coat of paint or something that needs to be cleaned up, but we think it’s important to get the public out onto the farm,” Chuck Raethke said. “We’re proud of what we do, and we think we ship a good product.”
“It can be a beast trying to find a host farm,” Pepin County Dairy Promotion Council Chairman T.J. Poeschel said. “It’s a challenge with the dairy market right now, and we’re a small county with very few dairy farms left. We’re relying on dairy farms who have done this before.”
Now in its 31st year, the Pepin County Town and Country Dairy Breakfast is notable in that the breakfast has always been held on a farm and has always been free.
“We accept free-will donations,” Poeschel said. “We are one of very few breakfasts left that do that. We have a lot of great people kicking in.”
Money brought in through free-will donations is used to support dairy at Pepin County schools and events, Poeschel said. For the past couple of years, the committee donated milk to county schools’ athletic teams for a nutritious after-practice beverage.
“As one of our larger promotions, we have stressed the importance of refueling with chocolate milk after a workout,” he said.
Poeschel said last year’s breakfast drew a record attendance of 2,200, and they are planning for about the same number of guests this year.
“The Raethkes are huge, huge assets to the county,” Poeschel said. “They’ve been known for years as a quality farm, and they always go the extra mile to support kids and 4-H.
“The family is very, very well liked. We expect at least that many people will show up this year.”
“The breakfast is a chance for everyone to come out to see and learn what life is like on the farm,” Raethke said. “It’s also a good opportunity to see some neighbors and old dairy farmers. It’s not just a breakfast, it’s a social gathering.”