Hard work, honesty keep Tetzner's Dairy going strong

Thu, 01/28/2010 - 6:14pm

By Joe Cadotte and photojournalist John Thain, FOX 21 News

WASHBURN - A dairy farm in Washburn has stood the test of time for more than a century. While many small farms have disappeared, milk from the Tetzner farm and its tiny store near Washburn have become a way of life for generations of local families.

When the Tetzner family purchased their farm in 1891, there were dairy farms scattered across the nearby countryside.

“There used to be in this township, 20 farms with three kids each, every one of those kids worked. They learned to work; they learned to like to work. Now it's gone. So a lot of the trouble in this world is from that. It's early training they couldn't got and it's gone, said farm owner Phillip Tetzner.

“My dad died when I was 18, and so that's really when I took over," he said. "I bought it when I was 20. Well, nobody thought that was a good idea. Banks or attorneys or whatever. We had to do it to survive.”

When Tetzner took over the farm in the early 1950s he inherited six cows. Since then the farm has grown to 600 acres of land with 100 cows, producing 350 gallons of milk every other day.

“We built this, me and my two boys, every nail," Tetzner said. "That's satisfaction to see this come up.”

Customers come from miles around to buy milk right at the farm.

“We save a lot of people in this area a lot of money on their milk," he said. "People that buy milk here have paid an average of 50 cents a gallon less than they would have in a store. Any milk you buy, is a week old. The milk people buy here is hours old.”

As one of the only dairy farms in the state that pasteurizes its own milk, the Tetzner farm serves as a remnant from the past.

“It's rare, to do what we're doing, very rare," Tetzner said. "I think there's only...there's one in Marshfield that's been doing it this long, and otherwise I don't know of any.”

For the past 119 years the Tetzner farm has stood the test of time. It's a reminder of a time when work ethic was a necessity of survival.

Countless generations of Washburn residents have grown up on Tetzner's milk, and the next generation of the Tetzner family stands ready to continue the tradition.

The Tetzner farm sells its milk and ice cream on an honor system. People are free to leave money in a mailbox and pick up their milk. The family says no one has taken milk without paying in more than 35 years.

For more information, go to www.tetznerdairy.com.