WWOA members, Don and Geneva Krahn of Arkdale, have involved their family and friends in their woodlands for many years. While Don has always been interested in the outdoors, he says, “it was a conservation course in college that really stirred my interest in tree farming.”
Their story starts the day after Geneva and Don closed on their first home in Fort Atkinson in 1962. Don and his brother-in-law, Howard, headed to Adams County to look for land resulting in the purchase of 40 acres in the Town of Big Flats. Don states, “Needless to say, the proximately of those two purchases brought some slight friction to the Krahn household. Worse yet, both my brother-in-law and I had to borrow the farm funds from his father.”
One of their first steps after the purchase was to contact the County Forester. They calculated that by hand planting 3500 white pine, under a jack pine-oak overstory and with federal cost-sharing, they could get 14,000 red pine planted at no cost by the County on 14 acres. So as Don says, “we ended our first tree farming venture with 17,500 trees in the ground, two planting bars, and a gallon of Aldrin for an out of pocket cost of $38.00 each.”
Don left teaching in 1968, then he and Geneva purchased the 80 adjacent to their land. Between 1976 and 1984, the Krahns acquired four more forties, three were contiguous; one, now their home, was across the road from the first purchase. They had help with their woodlands (three children, neighbors, in-laws, friends and hunters). They made mistakes, lost trees to floods and droughts, and their woodlands narrowly escaped damage from the Big Flats tornado and the Cottonville fire.
The Krahn woods are a place to live, work and play! One of Dons goals, in addition to providing a place for family activities, was to try to get the children bonded to the land.
Deer hunting, land clearing, logging, tree planting, cabin building, snowmobiling, trail riding, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, turkey and grouse hunting, bird watching, berry picking and hiking are all activities engaged in by family and friends. The lands are currently in the Managed Forest Law with 160 of 280 acres open to the public.
As their children grew, they spent Christmas and Easter vacations at the cabin. Working weekends were not always the top priority for high school children so friends came along to ease that problem.
Now, one daughter and her family live on the south end of the farm. A second daughter and her family live on the second farm, eleven miles away. Their son, who lives in Beaver Dam, has purchased Dons brother-in-laws interested in the first property. Friends, who spent time at their farm have purchased woodlands nearby.
“My accountant, who owns land south of Adams, introduced me to the concept of timber basis and WWOA at the same time,” says Don. At his accountants suggestion, he attended a meeting in Adams on alternative woodland products.
Later, Nancy Livingston and Central Sands Chapter “sealed the deal” and the Krahns joined WWOA. Don found the technical information in the magazine and educational opportunities compelling. He explains, “Geneva and I have tried to be contributing members. We have served on Annual Meeting planning committees. I serve on the Government Affairs Committee, the MFL Division Advisory Committee and as Vice President of Central Sands Chapter.” The Krahns have gifted memberships to neighbors and friends. Don hopes that WWOA can become the prime advocate for woodland owners in the State of Wisconsin.
Choose to invite a family or friends to spend the day with you at a WWOA chapter field day, summer picnic, or the Annual Meeting. The enthusiasm and knowledge that WWOA members share with each other about their woodlands is contagious! You never know where it might lead. Sharing your woodland passion with your children and grandchildren can create many wonderful memories and instill a love of the land like nothing else.