BRODHEAD, Wis. — Betty Anderson lives on what’s called “the Old Smith Place.” The first people on the abstract about 1845 were Daniel and Polly Smith.

“We own this piece of heaven,” Anderson said. “We walk around out here and have this sort of sense of people who went before. For me not having roots on the place, there’s still that sense. Who was here before? Who had this artifact that I just dug up? What Indian boy was hunting here? What was he thinking of as he was walking here?”

Her husband, Dane Anderson, has roots in the farm. His grandparents lived on the farm; he came home to the farm from the hospital where he was born.

The couple raises grass-fed beef and have two dairy cows.

“We got a cow, a house cow,” Betty Anderson said. “I didn’t think there’d be any particular attachment for me – like yeah let’s get a cow. So we got this cow and she gave us a calf within a month. And then we had milk and had cheese. And then she proved to be smart; she’s kind of the boss of our farm.

“The following fall we had meat and we had food to share. We had an on-farm slaughter so he never had a bad day until the moment his life was over. I can tell the difference in taste to any other grass-fed beef. It was incredibly eye-opening, the humane treatment, not scaring the daylights out of them in the last moments.”

This coming October they should have a calf or two on the farm to go with their chickens, ducks, goats and pigs.

“The pigs were so much fun we decided to do it again,” she said.

She makes gourmet jams and jellies along with pickles, which she sells at a VA market. They have lots of different berries and are planting more all the time.

“We want to have more things that are permanent,” she said. “We have a small orchard with cherries, pears, apples, peaches and plums. They’re still tiny. And we’re increasing our ironia berries – a niche market. I’m combining fruits with peppers and spicy things.”

It’s truly a diverse farm – including a harvest of peace.

Julie Belschner writes on various agricultural issues; she is the managing editor for Agri-View based in Wisconsin.


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