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Ach, Henry!

Henry Schroeder and his Clydesdale plow horses circa 1930sHenry Albert Schroeder (1898-1967) must be rolling over in his grave at Kroghville Cemetery.  Either that, or he is about ready to come down from Heaven and give corporate farming hell, bringing with him the Clydesdales that once plowed his farm fields in the township of Pleasant Springs, 20 miles from Madison in eastern Dane County, Wisconsin.

From 1926 to 1951, Henry Schroeder farmed 80 acres off County Trunk BN and Schadel Rd. in Section 2, Range 11 East, Town 6 North — a parcel that included five other farms of similar size.  Schroeder got into the work he loved as Wisconsin farming was completing a major shift to crop diversification as corn replaced wheat as the state’s most productive and profitable grain and the College of Agriculture encouraged more farmers to raise dairy cows to produce milk, butter, cheese and beef.

Schroeder raised corn for feed, oats for animal bedding, and devoted one-tenth of his land to tobacco, a labor-intensive cash crop.  His farm featured a steep hill that was the second-highest elevation in Dane County, according to county land records and interviews with descendants.  To conserve his topsoil, Schroeder used the high land for pasture and initiated contour farming practices.  He applied manure and other farm wastes to fertilize crops, never using chemical alternatives. Livestock included cows, pigs, and chickens for family use or sale to neighbors.  Schroeder was proud of his ecologically and economically efficient family farm long before those terms were used.

“He was in his glory when he was on the farm,” his late wife Meta used to tell me as we looked through old photo albums.

You see, Henry Albert Schroeder was my grandfather.

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