Between managing her young brood, working full-time in a dental office, pitching in as usual wherever she’s needed on the farm – and now also doing some extra sprucing up for Farm Technology Days – it’s accurate to characterize hard-working April Heideman as harried.
April is the younger farmwife on the two-generation Heideman Farms, which is co-hosting Farm Technology Days in Outagamie County July 17-19 with a neighboring expanded dairy, Sugar Creek Farms. The Heidemans milk any where from 60 to 70 cows in their tiestall barn. While April’s mother-in-law, Doris Heideman, shoulders primary responsibility for the calves, April rolls up her sleeves for whatever and wherever she’s needed – as her off-farm job allows.
April’s husband is “John P.” (so noted because he’s one in what can be to non-family a rather-confusing line of John Heidemans). They have three youngsters: Sarah, 9; Maureen, 7; and Henry, 5. Their trio attends the elementary school in Sugar Bush (part of the New London district and right across from their house).
April and her husband dairy with her in-laws, Doris and John A. Heideman. John P. also does custom combining, baling and excavating. April does the farm bookkeeping and tax preparation for their accountant. She does all the billing and paying the bills for her husband’s custom business. He also rents out some of his equipment, she notes.
April grew up on a farm in the Tigerton area. Her folks, Elaine and Gary Erickson (her dad has passed away), were both from the area. They had separately moved to Milwaukee, but returned to Tigerton when they married. Heideman Farms now farms April’s home farm (140 acres with 80 tillable), where her mom still lives and where April enjoys riding her 26-year-old Arabian/Pinto mare. She used to do quite a bit more riding before their family was born.
This “woman of Farm Technology Days” graduated from high school in 1988 and started working at a dental office, which trained her on the job. Today, she works full-time as a dental assistant at the Stockbridge Mun-see Health and Wellness Center (named for two Native American tribes) at Bowler. Despite a 40-mile commute one way, it’s evident April enjoys her career assisting in dental procedures.
“No two days are exactly alike,” she remarks, echoing a comment frequently heard from farmers about that profession, too. Even no two filling procedures are a like, she elaborates. This farmwife also likes meeting new people who come into the office, and she reports, “Almost every day I learn something new from the patients.”
Meantime, back home on their farm, April has been rock-picking of late. The Heidemans recently opened new areas of land, and they are picking up fence lines in expectation of Farm Technology Days. She freely admits at the prospect of thousands of visitors, they’ve done things faster the last three years than they otherwise would have (i.e. more projects around the farm than usual).
In addition, she and Doris (who is known locally for her ultra-green thumb) have put in extra flower beds around April and John P’s farmhouse. April, who along her kids and Doris, has also been painting certain sections of a barn and fence in the area where the dry cows are located. The Heidemans are proud to have the opportunity to co-host Farm Technology Days, and April admits they want their farm to look nice.
A recent addition is a 12 X 12 two-store playhouse with a loft and porch near her mother-in-law’s “beautiful garden,” says April, who seems about as excited as her daughter, Sarah, is about the playhouse. Last year, they did garden playhouses for the kids, which April says will be included in a host farm family book that will be featured at Farm Technology Days. This far-more-elaborate structure will also provide many hours of enjoyment for the Heideman kids.
They have added farmland seven times – twice full farmsteads in the last couple years with houses and buildings. As if hosting Farm Technology Days isn’t enough, she is also in the process of remodeling one of those acquired farmhouses. Presently, the younger Heidemans live in the farmhouse by their milking barn and other buildings. However, April says she can see the house that they are remodeling from her backdoor. Plans are to eventually move into it. She says she has re-planned the entire house. “Nothing is in the same spot,” she remarks of what is a major project, but one that will result in a home perfectly suited to her family.
In their free time, April, John P. and the kids head to their get-away spot up north, though April admits, they haven’t seen it in two years because of Farm Technology Days. They own a lake lot in Florence and take their camper up there. Otherwise, April likes taking the kids swimming. Sometimes they just swim in the pond out back, she adds.
Her husband is in charge of fieldwork. They have one employee who milks, with her father-in-law John A., known more commonly as “Jack.” “Doris helps, too,” says her daughter-in-law with admiration.
This farmwife can recall attending Farm Technology Days with her parents. She has also gone the last two years, since their farm has been picked to co-host the 2012 show. Her favorite areas are the youth and family living tents and the Fleet Farm-sponsored area, which, she notes, has some nice shows. The horse trainers are of special interest to her.
April notes they are frequently asked what they get out of hosting Farm Tech Days. “They think we get paid,” she says of public misperception. “If anything, it costs lots and lots of dollars, for extra maintenance. We always want our farm to look great,” but they are going above and beyond for next week’s show. Further, April says tent city and all the extra field traffic creates compaction and additional field work to resolve it.
Nevertheless, April and her husband and in-laws appreciate the chance to co-host this year. The payback, she stresses, “is the pride of showing what agriculture has to offer!”