June 12 2012 08:28 AM

Dairy producer proposes marriage in barn among his cows

Kipp Hinz proposing on one kneeWe posted a photo yesterday on our Hoard's Dairyman Facebook page of a well-dressed young man standing at the end of his dairy barn with rose petals sprinkled down the alley. We thought it was a unique and personal image that would get a few "likes". We did not expect 2,000 likes, 275 shares, 100 comments and a reach of over 23,000 people. We felt compelled to share "the rest of the story" with the people who found the image so "likeable"!

Dairy producer, Kipp Hinz spent much of his free-time on June 2nd cleaning the barn and making the cows look their best. He spread fresh shavings down the center aisle. The cows were clipped, washed, shined and tails fluffed. A special guest was due to arrive shortly so he got the cows up, pushed feed and waited. Upon entering the barn, rose petals decorated the alley leading to Kipp at the end of the barn looking his finest. He wanted everything perfect when he proposed to his girlfriend, Brielle Betzold.

Why in the barn, why in this barn? Before we get to that point, we'll share some history.

Kipp did not spend his youth growing up on a dairy farm. His dad farmed with his uncle until Kipp was five years old. So, from the time Kipp was just starting school, his dad was no longer dairy farming. Kipp missed the animals so much that he got a job working on a dairy when he was just a sixth grader. He continued to work at farms throughout high school, and worked at two farms starting as a sophomore and did morning chores before school at one of them.

Kipp is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Farm and Industry Short Course. After college, he worked as the full-time feeder and heifer manager for Horse Creek Holsteins in Star Prairie, Wis., on their 300-cow Holstein operation. After a while, a unique opportunity presented itself. A local dairy producer was looking to move out of the business and his cows and facility would be available. So, Kipp started working at Rock Ridge Dairy Farm (20 cows) simultaneously to transition cows to his ownership the following year. Both dairies were located in Osceola, Wis. After several months of serving double-duty, Kipp focused all of his time on his dream of his own herd and farm at Rock Ridge. He transitioned the herd from a primarily pasture-based operation to one where he could better manage the cows, especially in the area of nutrition. In September of 2010, when he first started working with the cows, they were producing 56 pounds a day. Twelve months later, the cows were at 91 pounds. And in January 2012, they were averaging 102 pounds with 29,500 RHA (3X) and less than 100,000 SCC on a total mixed ration. The increase in production was not done with new herd members, it was the same group of cows with very low culling and a handful of replacements that had transformed over the past year.

On March 1 of 2011, he acquired the cows and formed Hinz Registered Holsteins. He now owns the 32 cows and has been milking in the rented facility for just over a year. Later this fall, he will be relocating to the Baraboo area to a facility that can accommodate more cows and has a parlor for future expansion. There will be renovations to be made, and one day looks forward to be able to own property, too.

Brielle helps feed calves, milks and even helped clip the cows for the proposal, yet did not know the purpose at that point. She is finishing her college education at nearby UW-River Falls, so her assistance on the farm can be limited. No stranger to cows herself, Brielle's grandparents were dairy producers and her parents managed a dairy in Russia when Brielle was younger. She is fluent in Russian and is majoring in broad field social studies with an emphasis in political science.

Kipp said, "Brielle keeps the ball rolling and keeps me going. She's my inspiration and since we are going to be dairy farmers for the rest of our lives, the barn was the right place to propose. Brielle was part of the decision to start milking cows on my own from the very beginning. The dream started here."

And . . .she said yes. "When there is green grass, it's generally not a good time to get married if you are a farmer," stated Kipp. They both enjoy late spring/early summer so a June 2013 wedding is planned. Maybe June Dairy Month is just a coincidence!

When asked about the romantic nature of the proposal, Kipp responded, "I wasn't trying to be romantic. I just wanted it to be a "WOW" moment and memorable. I had been planning the scenario for over a year. How she would open the barn door, see the cows, the petals and me waiting at the end of the alley with a ring. I wanted the barn to be immaculate. It would be a lot of work, but it was only going to happen once."

He thought about doing it at classification time, when the cows and the barn would be in top shape, but then decided that the proposal would need to be a stand alone event, and not tied to any other activity.

I've known Kipp for a few years, so I teased that I did not know he was such a romantic. He was quick to respond, "I have a mom and three sisters. I picked up on a few things over the years."

When asked about the attention the post generated he responded, "It is fun to be in the dairy industry. The people have been great." Kipp has invited readers to see additional photos on the farm's Facebook page, Hinz Registered Holsteins.
Kipp and Brielle
"We couldn't be happier," remarked Kipp.

Congratulations to Brielle and Kipp and thanks for sharing.