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Postscript to Wisco vs. Cali cheese blog

Earlier this week, I posted a blog about a friend from California who -- while visiting Milwaukee -- bought Wisconsin cheese curds to give to his friends as souvenirs. I asked him why a Californian would buy cheese in Wisconsin, considering his home state rivals ours for cheese production, and he claimed he preferred Wisconsin cheese because it was made on family farms versus California's corporate farms.

Patrick Geoghegan, Senior Vice President of the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, responded to my blog with some very interesting information, including random cheese factoids and an explanation of the modern Wisconsin family farm dynamic.

Here are some excerpts from his detailed email:

1. The average dairy herd on a Wisconsin farm is about 85, whereas California averages about 900 cows per farm.

2. In Wisconsin, 99 percent of diary farms are family owned, however, in recent years, dairy farming families have joined forces and started corporations together so they could enjoy amenities like the occasional vacation. Hence, my friend's belief that Wisconsin doesn't have corporate farms is only partially true.

3. Dairying has a $20.6 billion impact on Wisconsin, which is nearly twice as large as tourism.

4. There are 1.4 million dairy cows in the state, and each one generates about $17,000 in economic activity, creating more than 160,000 jobs. "The unsung fact about the dairy industry is that it doesn't go through a lot of highs and lows -- you can't lay off cows when the price of milk is low. It's a steady industry that contributes mightily to our state economically and socially," says Geoghegan.

5. The Wisconsin vs. California debate is addressed at every national and international cheese competition and Wisconsin wins EVERY time. In fact at the American Cheese Society competition held earlier this month in Vermont, Wisconsin cheese makers captured 20 first place awards and 25 percent of all awards in one of the biggest cheese competitions in …


It's unofficial: Wisconsin cheese rules

In my heart, Wisconsin will always be the cheese capital of the world, regardless of what other states --  like California -- try to claim. And I hate that commercial with the cold, unhappy Wisconsin cows.

Today, however, I had a small but meaningful moment of Wisconsin cheese pride. A good friend from San Francisco stayed with us for a long weekend, and bought bags of cheese curds to bring home for his friends as souvenirs.

"What's a Californian doing with CHEESE from Wisconsin? Are you admitting ours is better?" I asked.

"Absolutely," he said without missing a beat. "Wisconsin cheese is made on family farms and California's is from corporate farms."

I haven't had the time or desire to research this as fact, but I like it, and declared it a small victory point for the Wisconsin team. In your face, sun-lovin' Cali cows.

This garden spider is lovin' up my yard.
This garden spider is lovin' up my yard.

Attack of the backyard bugs

Your yard is probably like mine right now. After a week of rain, it's more of a science project than a sanctuary, with scores of insects ranging from freakishly fascinating to totally gross. (I've got slugs the size of man fingers back there.)

However, since Saturday, my sons and I have been observing this spider. A quick Google search told me it's just called a garden spider, and pretty common for this time of year in Wisconsin. However, it's the first time I saw one in my yard.

"Charlotte" (we've been pronouncing it "Char-lot" in a fake accent that ranges between Spanish, French and British) is about two inches long. She built a massive web in my irises, and every time it rains, she diligently rebuilds it.

Yesterday, Kai caught a moth with his butterfly net and tossed it into her web. As a winged insect, it got caught in the sticky silk immediately, and within a split second, Charlotte snagged it, bit it in the neck and began to wrap it into a neat little package until it was, as 5-year-old Kai put it, "the size of a booger."

The fun continued this morning, when Kai noticed a small army of ants feasting on a dead cicada. He insisted I look at it with him -- as close as my squeamishness could allow -- and discuss the fact the cicada's face was half-munched. 

Lunch, anyone?



The Miller Park/Sprecher beer saga continues

Although Anne Sprecher says she was originally told Sprecher beer would be removed from Miller Park, the product remains available to game-goers. Sprecher says she was told in a recent conversation that her beer would stay in the ballpark, but the availability would be reduced.

Tom Olson of Sportservice says this is not true. According to Olson, beers are rotated throughout the baseball season to coordinate with nature's seasons, and that nothing different is happening with Sprecher beer.

At this point, however, Sprecher says she is unsure of the relationship with Miller Park and believes orders will be reduced.

"I was given a rather fuzzy scenario about what had been changed and where we would be. Unfortunately, no one has provided me with the details," she says.

Stay tuned to OMC for more details about the relationship between Sprecher and Miller Park.