1997 - Volume #21, Issue #1, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Wisconsin Woman Does Custom Baling, MilkingFew women are as deeply involved in farming as Julie Grahl of Eden, Wis., who for the past three years has been doing custom hay baling and wrapping in summer and full-time relief milking in winter. She also works part time at a large dairy farm where she raises calves. And she plans to buy a no-till drill so that she can do custom grass seeding.
"I want to be farming full-time in five years. The income from custom work is helping me get started," says the 29-yearold Grahl. "Also, I learn a lot because I get to talk to a lot of different farmers and see how they do things."
Grahl bought a used White 2-105 2-WD tractor for $15,000 and leases a new Welger baler and a Corry wrapper. She travels up to 40 miles away although she tries to stay within a 20-mile radius. On long hauls, she hires a cousin to transport the baler on a semi trailer while she drives the pickup (loaded with plastic, twine, toolboxes, grease guns, etc.) and pulls the wrapper. She charges $7 per bale and another $7 per bale to wrap, offering discounts when more than 250 bales are wrapped.
Grahl grew up on a dairy farm and has been milking cows and driving tractors since she was a little girl. "I saw a future in custom round bale silage in 1993 when it was so wet that it was virtually impossible to get quality hay. No one else was doing it around here," she says. "However, I've found that it's hard to make enough profit to pay for the baling equipment. I make my living off milking other people's cows and work for about 40 different dairy farmers. I charge a per hour rate and will do any job that needs to be done."
Grahl says she hasn't encountered any strange responses when people discover that a woman is doing custom farming. "But I do think there are people who don't call me because I'm a woman. It's tough being a woman in a man's world, but you do the best quality work you can do and people can't fault you for that."
Grahl is a graduate of a local technical college's dairy herd management program and the University of Wisconsin Farm and Industry Short Course. She plans to get a degree from the University of Wisconsin in animal science. This winter she will attend the National Holstein Association's Young Dairy Leader's Institute, which emphasizes leadership skills.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Julie Grahl, W3160 County Rd. F, Eden, Wis. 53019 (ph 414 477-3006 or 414 948-4677).
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