David and Leslie Meuer transitioned from milking 40 dairy cows and farming 150 acres to hosting as many as 25,000 visitors on their agricultural tourism (agritourism) operation near Chilton, Wis. They have successfully tapped into the “locavore” movement — consumers who seek locally grown or produced food — while fulfilling their dream of a sustainable farming operation.
They turn to local dealers and dealers of specialty equipment, searching for reliable, versatile used equipment. Meuer and Service Motor Co. have built up a relationship over the years, which includes cross promotion and equipment support. The dealership has 6 locations in northeastern Wisconsin and carries Case IH, Kubota, Land Pride, Woods, Meyer Farm Equipment, Thunder Creek Trailers and other lines.
Jim Haltaufderheide, store manager of the Fond du Lac location, says, “Right from the start, they approached us and we thought it would be a good way to get our name out there. We saw what they were doing and the ideas they had. So, we said, ‘We’ll partner with you and donate what we can.”’
For instance, the dealership sponsors the farm's corn maze and in addition to supplying equipment, they loan the operation an extra tractor and RTV during their peak fall season and are ready to help with a loaner when the farm’s equipment needs repair. “Last year, I had trouble with my RTV and I gave Service Motor a call. They picked it up and brought me a replacement. I had 100 people waiting for me to pull the tram,” Meuer says.
Searching Out Equipment
Meuer searches out specialty equipment from dealers throughout the U.S., either through internet searches, talking with other farmers or by attending trade shows for fruit and vegetable growers.
He purchased a Highline Manufacturing bale processor from Steinhart Farm Service, Platteville, Wis., which is located about 3 hours south of his farm. The bale processor breaks up the bales and then he blows the straw on the strawberry plants. He purchased a Holland transplanter (for strawberries) from Ag Resource of Detroit Lakes, Minn., and a multivator from La Crescent Orchard Supply of La Crescent, Minn.
Meuer also traveled to Montana for an oat roller and even to Austria for a stone mill. “It’s difficult to find the equipment we need for a smaller operation. That kind of equipment is just not being built in the U.S.,” he says.
He also holds on to older equipment that keeps getting the job done. For instance, he still uses his Gehl skid steer, which he purchased about 15 years ago from Waupun Equipment, Waupun, Wis. For drilling grain and planting sugar-snap peas, he turns to his early 20th century Van Brunt grain drill. The company was bought by John Deere in 1911 and Meuer is still able to purchase parts.
Read more about the Meuers and the equipment they use in this feature from the fall 2017 issue.