Huff-Nel-Sons Farms

Richland Center, Wisconsin
June 20, 2024
Celebrating 102 years of rich farming tradition and spanning six generations, Huff-Nel-Sons Farm near Richland Center, Wisc. stands as a testament to the enduring commitment to the land and their craft.

Fourth-generation farmers Sherry and Larry Nelson have a lot to be proud of. They have recently been honored with the Century Farm Designation and are the hosts of this year’s Richland County June Dairy Breakfast. They hosted this event a decade ago and welcomed over 4,000 visitors to the farm. Showcasing the joys and rewards of farm life is a significant honor, and the Nelsons look forward to welcoming visitors of all ages to their property once again.

Sherry and Larry currently work on the farm with their two sons Aaron and Andrew. who will eventually carry on their own legacy as the fifth generation. But for now, Sherry and Larry find some of the greatest joys in the memories they are cultivating with their 10 grandchildren.

Every grandchild lives “within a four-wheeler drive” of the farm. Some of the older kids milk before school and help with feeding and crop planting. “We joke there are not enough tractors for everyone,” Sherry says. Farming brings the family closer together through shared experiences. “They are such good kids,” Sherry expressed. “We feel we’ve been a big part of their lives; we are not just grandparents but friends too.”

Sherry and Larry are reassured knowing that the farm’s future looks bright despite challenges making it harder for small family farms. The Nelsons place a lot of importance on maintaining a positive outlook. “You have to have a positive attitude to survive in the business,” Sherry affirms.

The Nelsons own 777 acres but rent additional land, bringing their total to 1,800 acres. The workable land is planted with corn, soy, alfalfa, hay and wheat. The family works in tandem to milk 222 head of Holstein cattle three times a day in a double-12 parallel parlor with an additional 300 head of young and dry cows. The parlor system has been in place for a decade now; but the new setup allowed the Nelsons to upgrade to an activity collar system, enabling round-the-clock monitoring of the cattle’s health regardless of who is assisting on the farm. This added comfort has allowed them to expand and hire employees to assist with evening milking.

The Nelson family is dedicated to leaving the land better than what they’ve inherited. “Take care of the land, and it will take care of you” is the motto Sherry and the family live by. The nearby Willow Creek wetland area winds its way through their farming community. They preserve soil health by rotating crops and using cover crops like rye and winter wheat. Nestled among several hills and slopes, the farm uses contour planting to prevent runoff.

The family utilizes two 33,000-bushel grain bins each year to support their sustainable farming operations.

The Richland Center community has been instrumental in helping to keep the tradition of farming alive and relevant. Every spring, elementary school children visit the farm for an interactive experience, filled with hands-on activities and learning opportunities about farm life. Highlights include the hayride and interactions with the calves. Sherry expressed pride in her grandkids involvement in 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA). “We are so grateful to the educators and teachers.” Education off the farm is just as instrumental in helping shape the next generation.

As people become increasingly disconnected from the sources of their food, events like farm tours and dairy breakfasts play a crucial role in bridging that gap. Small dairy operations in Wisconsin not only contribute essential food to our supply chain but also preserve the state’s rich agricultural heritage. Our dairy farmers dedicate their lives to caring for their animals, land, and communities. For June Dairy month, let’s all raise a glass (or spoon) in gratitude for their hard work in providing the delicious and nutritious products that nourish our families.

Huff-Nel-Sons Farm Family