FFA student Jordan Beyler doesn’t have any farm animals of her own, but she’ll still have a chance to show cattle because of the help she gets from a local farmer who’s been mentoring kids like her for about a decade.
Beyler is among countless other youth who have been able to get hands-on experience with showing cattle because of help from the Caine family of Fitchburg.
Local farmers since the 1940s and business owners since 1955, Jeanne and Tom Caine laid a foundation in community service and farming for their son Pat, 47, to continue having kids come out to the farm.
“We’ve all always been into the cattle,” Jeanne said.
Pat, a Fitchburg native living on Byrne Road, and his family are what people might picture when they think of a typical Wisconsin dairy farm family. With his parents nearby, Pat lives at the fifth-generation dairy operation with a two-story farm house.
Many in the Fitchburg-Oregon agricultural community are already familiar with the “Caine” name (as in Caine Road off Hwy. M), which comes with history and respect, and Pat’s dedication to local youth carries on that tradition. His work represents rural values that can sometimes be forgotten in a big city filled with sprawling urban growth and economic development.
With Pat’s parents owning a local tack shop, Caine’s, that sells goods for horses, the 1985 graduate of Oregon High School grew up showing horses. His parents still have photos of him showing in grade school up on their wall at the shop.
As the middle child of three kids, Pat would eventually become the main caretaker of the herd, which includes about 40 main milking cows, allowing him to become the skilled in everything about cattle.
Learning, growing and caring for farm animals are values Pat aims to pass on to younger generations.
His farming experience, education, including a 1988 farming and industry associate degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison, and passion for the animals has led him to allow youth, from ages 8 or 9 to high school, to show his herd, which has a total of 112 Brown Swiss cattle.
It’s something he learned to enjoy through watching his parents Tom, 81, and Jeanne, 80, as 4H leaders when he was a kid.
But Pat said his teachings go beyond showing cattle. He wants students to know how to care for their animal thoroughly – from ensuring a proper diet to how to groom it – and he watches as they build a bond that goes beyond simply using the cattle to win fair competitions. His goal is for them to also learn sound animal care, cultivation and breeding from the start of a calf’s life.