A devastating fire two years ago left a large portion of the Strickler Dairy farm in shambles.
“I felt so good that people were happy to see us rebuild,” said Steve Strickler, a partner in the dairy, Monday afternoon.
The community support is in large measure why Strickler Dairy is hosting Farm-City Days festivities this weekend.
The Strickler spread was among the first farms toured when the annual fall festival unfolded 43 years ago and included a farm tour. Strickler had planned to host a Farm-City Days tour of the farm in 2012, before the fire intervened.
The Farm-City Days tours start at 3 p.m. Saturday.
TOURS WILL reveal a modern-day operation.
The dairy is a highly technical and involved industry that is more than herding cows into a barn and attaching milking machines.
“I know a lot of people go to the store, buy a gallon of milk for $4.50 and think that’s what the farmer gets,” he said.
Truth is, Strickler said, by the time all those with a hand in processing and marketing take a share, the dairy farmer will get about $1.80 from that $4.50 gallon.
And, he said, that’s gross, not net. Numerous components — from cost of feed and equipment to wages and property taxes — whittle away at the bottom line.
“We hope to show people what it costs to farm,” Strickler said.
Doug Strickler, who tends to crops, will have a combine and four-wheel-drive tractor for visitors to see, with price tags attached.
Beyond that “we’ll have 10 stations where people can see exactly what goes into producing a gallon of milk,” Strickler said.
Darrell Monfort, Iola veterinarian, will give a tutorial on the importance of keeping cows and bulls healthy and what goes into it. Steve Strickler’s son, Cody, his wife, Tegan, and their children, Remington, 5, and Avery, 3, will give tours of the calf barn.
Several sheets of plywood will be laid out with daily portions of corn, silage and other nutrients that are fed to cows, with tags showing prices of each. Harry Clubine, dairy foreman, will demonstrate how cows are prepped for milking and give tours of the milk parlor.
The dairy’s water treatment plant will be explained, visitors will see the milking herd and information will be given on manure management.
“We also may have a powered parachute, which some farmers use, as well as several small all-wheel vehicles that we use on the farm,” Strickler said.
PLANS are extensive for the ongoing renovations to the dairy, including having the farm office refitted as a memorial to his parents, Ivan and Madge Strickler, each of whom had extensive farm and community roles in Iola. She died in 2005; he in 2008.
One wall will hold family photographs. Other areas will have displays of memorabilia and awards each won.
Ivan Strickler was known worldwide as a leader in the dairy industry. He was the first chairman of the National Dairy Research and Promotion Board and spent 14 years on the National Milk Producers executive board. He served 27 years as a director of Mid-America Dairymen. Under his guidance, Strickler dairy grew to milk 400 cows a day and produce 10 million pounds of milk annually. The farm has won numerous national records.
Madge married Ivan Aug. 7, 1949. She taught choral music at Iola High School and was deeply involved in music in the Iola area. She directed the chancel choir at Iola’s First Christian Church for 50 years, and started Iola’s famed Christmas Vespers in 1953.