Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg visited Wisconsin Sunday and hit some Dairy State highlights, including a farm visit, a taste of raw milk and a stop for brats and cheese curds.
Zuckerberg visited a family farm in Blanchardville, about 50 miles southwest of Madison. In his posts to his 89 million followers about the visit — part of his efforts to hit all 50 states — he notes the hard-working life of the farm operators, Jed and Rona Gant, who raise dairy and beef cattle.
When asked why Zuckerberg commented “Someone on my team who helps me plan these trips knew someone who had visited them before. Normally we just brainstorm a bunch of ideas for people to talk to ahead of time and then when we get to a place we do a mix of planned and spontaneous stuff”.
I spent the afternoon with the Gant family on their farm in Blanchardville, Wisconsin.
Jed Gant and his family raise dairy and beef cattle just like five generations of Gants before them did. The last time Jed took a trip away from the farm was in 1981 when he and his wife Rona got married. That’s because he has to milk 30 cows every 12 hours — at 5am and 5pm. He told me, “If I leave, I leave my livelihood in the hands of someone else. And I don’t have enough help as it is.”
The family is incredibly disciplined. Everyone works daylight to dark, seven days a week. When we were driving around his property, Jed told me he’d rather feed the cattle than feed himself if it came down to that. And even though the demand for milk and cheese has declined in recent years, he’s never taken a subsidy check from the government. The way he sees it, “If you don’t take the check, they can’t tell you what to do.”
The Gant family is incredibly proud of the work they do. Jed calls farming “the greatest job there is” and he’s glad his kids are learning the same way of life. Their self-reliance is impressive.
Today was a bunch of firsts for me: first time feeding a calf, first time trying unpasteurized milk straight from a cow, first time driving a 70-year old tractor. Thanks to the Gants for being such gracious hosts. Priscilla, I hope you’re hungry for cheese because I’m coming home with a lot of it.
“The family is incredibly disciplined,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Everyone works daylight to dark, seven days a week.”
He said that the visit to the Gants came from a staff member’s recommendation.
“Someone on my team who helps me plan these trips knew someone who had visited them before. Normally we just brainstorm a bunch of ideas for people to talk to ahead of time and then when we get to a place we do a mix of planned and spontaneous stuff.”
Zuckerberg logged “a bunch of firsts” during the afternoon visit.
“First time feeding a calf, first time trying unpasteurized milk straight from a cow, first time driving a 70-year old tractor.”
Of the raw milk, he said: “It was delicious.”
He also hit State Street Brats in Madison and posted a picture of himself enjoying a brat and cheese curds.
“I basically inhaled the first brat and cheese curds before remembering I should take a photo to thank you all for telling me to come here, so then I ordered this second brat. I do not regret it.”