Farm Horizons, September 1998

Milking to end at Bickmans' small farm

By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS

This will be the last year Felix and Sophie Bickman will be milking their Jersey cows.

Age and health problems have caught up with them, but for the past 25 years these two have milked their small herd.

Their love of Jerseys started with one calf, given to their daughter, Veronica, for a 4-H project.

"George Stifter gave it to her, and she took it to the county fair and won first place," Felix, 80, said. "She took it to the state fair and I think she got a blue ribbon."

Prior to this, Bickmans had bought one Jersey for butchering. "That was the best meat," Sophie, 76, said.

In 1967, a barn fire, started by spontaneous combustion of moist hay, burned down the barn and killed Veronica's cow.

The Bickmans rebuilt the barn and bought five more Jerseys from Dangers near Howard Lake. The Dangers were customers of Curtis Breeding Service, which Felix worked for.

The Bickmans' herd grew, but not much. Twelve milk cows, seven heifers, and one bull occupy their small farm, and the grade B milk is sold to Bongards Creameries.

Until a month ago, Felix and Sophie did the majority of the milking, then Felix had a stroke and Sophie has had surgery. The consequence is the cows will be sold, but it is not something the Bickmans are happy about.

"They're like pets of ours," Sophie said.

"When they're gone, I'm going to miss them," Felix said.

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