June 27, 2012
“I come to the dairy breakfast to catch up on the gossip,” the Buffalo County man told me. It’s about a lot more than pancakes or cows.
June is dairy month. Dairy breakfasts are an opportunity for city people to visit the country. But the breakfasts are also a great social gathering where local people catch up on the news. Who died, who got married, who is doing what and how the crops are growing.
I spent the morning listening to what was on people’s minds.
Whether you’re running a dairy breakfast or farming, weather is important. Unlike other parts of the state, in Buffalo County the rain came just in time. But people’s thoughts and prayers were with our fellow Wisconsinites in the northwestern counties who face clean-up from flooding caused by the recent torrential rain.
The crops look good and the cows are healthy. The price of milk isn’t quite what it was last year. But last year was such a good year it’s going to be hard to top.
The grapes are growing well. Our local Danzinger Winery took top honors in early judging at the state fair. This is quite an accomplishment for Dave and his family.
The Boy Scouts are back from camp. The Alma Troop won the coveted Clean Camp Award. The boys attributed their success to recently retired Scout Master, Lee Collins. He instilled a strong work ethic and good camp discipline in the boys. They thanked their current adult leaders for keeping up the tradition.
It is the people of our communities that create the vibrant fabric of life. What happens with families, neighbors and in the community are more important than politics.
Families and neighbors know they will live together for the next three or four generations. They are careful about political divisiveness. But folks do realize what happens in Madison effects what’s going on in their hometown.
Nobody wanted to bring up politics except in whispered conversations. I was pulled aside to talk about health care, sand mines and roads.
“My wife and I pay way too much for health insurance,” one fellow told me. “I wish you could solve that problem.”
“They are talking about a big sand mine out by me,” another mentioned. Folks wonder what changing the landscape will do to tourism. They are also concerned about the truck traffic on local roads.
People worry about safety on the narrow roads that snake up and down steep hillsides. One man put up his own sign to warn drivers of a dangerous road.
A few people wanted to share their thoughts on the political process. A Buffalo City woman said, “People didn’t like the recall election. Let him serve out his term, then get rid of him if you don’t like him.”
Another man was very concerned about money in politics. He said, “Fools vote against their own self-interest. And it’s the big money boys who win.”
Several people talked about schools which are the heart of a rural community. All too often nice buildings hide the financial struggles inside. Nearly every rural school in the area has faced several years of difficult budgets.
Folks work hard and they expect their government to do the same. And they want people to get along.
Stark partisan divisions don’t make sense. Teachers are a part of the community along with the sheriff and county workers. State government seems to be run by a completely different set of rules. Sometimes the two cultures just don’t seem to mesh.
The news from the dairy breakfast is mostly about people; neighbors living and working together. People finding common ground so they can make their neighborhoods great places to live.
It’s a lesson folks in the Capitol might actually benefit from learning.
One lady told me, “More than anything I want you guys to learn how to get stuff done. I’m just so tired of all the fighting. And I’m so tired of those outside interests saying what’s going to happen. Can’t you guys put your differences aside and stop listening to outside groups and actually make a decision that’s best for what’s happening here in Wisconsin?”
That’s pretty sound advice.