Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Stats & humor from America’s Dairyland November 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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A dairy farm along Highway 14/61 south of La Crosse.

A dairy farm along Highway 14/61 south of La Crosse. It appears, though, that this barn no longer houses cows.

I’VE LEARNED A LOT about Wisconsin in the five years since my second daughter moved to Appleton on the eastern side of the state.

I’ve learned that Wisconsinites are crazy about the Green Bay Packers. If you want to travel with minimal traffic through Wisconsin, drive while a Packers game is on. Most everybody will be holed up at home/a friend’s house or gathered in a bar watching the football game in their Packers’ green and gold.

I’ve also learned that Wisconsin residents love their beer and brats as noted by all the bars and signs advertising Brat Fries. Grocery stores even sell brat buns dyed Packers’ green and gold.

And then there’s the cheese. Oh, yes. Wisconsinites love their cheese. Big time. You can even find football and cow shaped cheeses.


A memorable barn due to the humorous signage.


This state is known as America’s Dairyland. According to the Wisconsin Dairy Producers Milk Marketing Board’s 2014 data, Wisconsin produces 13.5 percent of the country’s milk and 25.4 percent of the cheese. That comes from 1,271,000 cows housed on 10,290 licensed dairy farms.

Apparently New York dairy farmers who resettled in southern Wisconsin in the 1840s and 1850s propelled this region into cheese-making. New York was, at the time, the leading dairy producer. Today this East Coast state remains the third top dairy state behind California and Wisconsin.

As someone who grew up on a family dairy farm—in southwestern Minnesota—I value the dairy industry. Pass the cheese, please.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Country meets city in northeastern Wisconsin November 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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A farm just off Northland Avenue in Appleton, Wisconsin.

A farm, left, just off Northland Avenue.

ON THE NORTHERN EDGE of Appleton or maybe its the southern edge of Grand Chute, Wisconsin (I examined maps and cannot determine which), lies a farm place with two vintage silos, a barn, a collection of aging outbuildings and even an old windmill.

The place, a rural oasis separated from busy commercial Northland Avenue by a cornfield, has intrigued me since I first spotted it three years ago.

What I hadn’t noticed, though, until my last trip to Appleton, were the cows grazing in a pasture just across the street from a residential area.

This is the thing I love about Wisconsin. This state appreciates rural. You’ll find barns and silos, corn and cows seamlessly blending into urban settings. And the mix doesn’t feel awkward or patronizing or out of place.

It feels, oh, so right in this state tagged America’s Dairyland.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling