Family farm has had dairy animals for 150 years

Pictured (left to right): Mike Salter- Farm Bureau, Pete Mullen and Morgan Rynish-Fairest of the Fair. – Submitted photo

By Sara Tischauser

One local man from the Town of Osborn said being on the farm is what has made him happy and he continues to raise dairy heifers on his family farm that has been in existence for almost 151 years.
Pete Mullen was recognized at the Outagamie County Fair in July for having a sesquicentennial farm. Mullen said his great grandparents moved to the farm in 1867 and brought with them six of their children. Mullen’s grandfather was 14 years-ld when he moved to the farm with his parents.
One of the first things, Mullen said his great grandparents did was build a log house. He said he can only imagine what it was like to endure the long winters at that time with no running water.
The original log house and all the other buildings on the farm were lost in 1899.
“In 1899, a week before my dad was born all the buildings were flattened as a tornado went through,” Mullen said.
After the tornado, Mullen said the family rebuilt the house (which was no longer a log house) and the farm buildings. In 1967, Mullen said his parents made an addition to the house and bathroom facilities were added.
Growing up on the farm, Mullen said money was always tight for his parents and that was why his parents didn’t remodel the house until they were more financially stable.
Being on the farm and around the animals is what Mullen enjoyed, and he tried to be around the farm as much as he could.
“The only time away from the farm for any length of time was when I was in the army for two years,” Mullen said.
Mullen went to teach biology in South Milwaukee for 44 years, but continued to come back to the farm on weekends, vacations and the summer to help with the farm.
“I always liked coming back to farm,” Mullen said. “If I was gone a day, week or weeks first place I went was to the barn to check on animals.”
One of the things that Mullen said helped them keep the farm in the family was to keep the farm small. He said they tried not to add costs to the farm that could possibly force them to sell because of debt.
Mullen bought the farm in February of 1980 after his dad had passed away on Thanksgiving day in 1979.
After Mullen bought the farm he had thought about just doing crop farming, but as the animals on the farm dwindled he changed his mind. He said that he missed the animals too much and decided to raise dairy heifers on the farm.
“There have been dairy animals on the farm for 150 years,” Mullen said.
While he was teaching in Milwaukee his neighbor helped with feeding the animals. Once Mullen retired from teaching and was living at the farm full time he found the day to day chores of the farm to be what he liked doing.
“It gives me something to get up for every day, doing chores,” Mullen said.
When his dad had considered retiring at the age of 65, Mullen said he told his dad to keep farming. Mullen said he believes that continuing to farm is what kept his dad going and will keep him going.
“I’m going to keep doing it [farming] as long as I’m healthy,” Mullen said.