Mena Schmitt of Sun Prairie was excited about being invited to sell one of her heifers for the first time at the World Dairy Expo World Premier Milking Shorthorn Sale in October. It was not only a way for the 18-year-old UW-Madison student to pay some college expenses, but it was more importantly a way to get her Maunesha Creek herd name better known in the industry.
A little more than a month later, Schmitt’s story has added a new chapter.
The Country Today reported in September that she began showing about nine years ago with a cow bought by her grandmother. When Schmitt’s father died in 2012 and the family’s commercial herd was sold, she was able to keep back a dam and daughter pair. Since then, Schmitt has slowly built a small breeding and show herd of about 20 Milking Shorthorns.
The Expo sale offering Oct. 5 in Madison was for a choice of one of Schmitt’s two summer yearlings. Mad-M farm in Seymour won the bid and chose Maunesha Creek Lone Emfasis, a red heifer that had placed well in the junior show earlier in the week. The other heifer was going back home to support Schmitt’s future genetics program.
“Most unexpectedly, a 10-year-old boy approached me after the sale and told me he was the contending bidder, and the white (Maunesha Creek Miscellaneous) had caught his eye,” Schmitt said. “I could not say ‘no’ to allowing a fellow youth to begin his own story like someone had started mine, so Missy, the white heifer, is headed to Gobles, Mich.”
The boy, Kaden Petroshus, has been showing pigs and cattle at his county fair open shows for about four years and showed for the first time in 4-H this summer. He saved money from the sale of his market animals to buy the heifer, said his father, Randy Petroshus.
Petroshus and his wife, Marcy, operate a 1,000-cow dairy in southwest Michigan with 85 to 90 percent Holsteins. Seven-year-old brother Carlton likes Jerseys but Kaden likes his Milking Shorthorns, Petroshus said.
After the sale, Kaden insisted that Missy was the heifer for him, so his dad tried some negotiating.
“(Mena) said she would only sell her on one condition,” Petroshus said, laughing. “Kaden had to give Mena a hug.”
Kaden not only gave Schmitt a hug but helped her wash and do chores a couple of times during Expo.
“We willingly let him,” Petroshus said. “His goal is to someday exhibit cattle maybe at the show, and he’s wanting to learn more about the intensity of that show versus the county fair.”
He said his family’s dairy and others in Michigan are in their third year of struggles with low milk prices, but he has hopes that in future years Kaden will find a way into the industry.
“But he’s got a lot of growing up and education, and hopefully he’ll figure something out to make everything fly,” Petroshus said.
The other heifer, Emmy, went to the small Shawano County hobby farm herd of Kevin and Michelle Krueger and their three boys, Austin, 18; Jacob, 13; and Patrick, 10. Michelle and the boys do the showing.
“I’ve always wanted to do this, because I grew up on a small farm, and my parents said we don’t have time for that,” Michelle said. “I kind of started talking to my boys about it, and they thought it would be kind of fun, so when my boys were old enough, we all kind of got into this together. We do have a lot of fun doing it.”
Kevin said they hadn’t planned on bidding on an older animal but were swayed by how Emmy had done in the ring and the fact that she was later confirmed bred to North Stars Famous Patriot EXP to freshen in early June. Depending on what she has, they might have the option of showing a heifer calf or registering a bull next year, he said.
Michelle said Schmitt cried when they went to pick up the heifer, “but she said, nope, I’m glad you guys got her. I know she’s going to a good place.’ It kind of made us feel good.”
“Honestly, I cried my eyes out as I watched the heifers load the trailers to their new homes,” Schmitt said, “but I felt that I had started the beginning journey for their new owners. For sure I will probably call and text asking for updates, because those heifers I had poured lots of time into. But what really matters was the passion and love for them.”
Schmitt said in September that she had always been told not to sell the youngstock, because it was the future of her herd, but she still has both dams.
“So, I still can breed from them and maybe get two sisters,” she said.