Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Wisconsin family business

When you hear the word, "start-up" these days, it's usually in the context of technology.

But you better start thinking, "butter."

Al Bekkum is a world class cheesemaker who found that butter would be his niche. He and his family just started a butter-making – and butter-making only – operation on their family farm in the heart of Wisconsin's "dairyland" near Westby. It's the first of its kind in the state.

For a couple years, Bekkum – on a weekly basis – drove two-hours east to Columbus to make 50-75 pound batches of butter at Sassy Cow Creamery. No longer. His new production center and store on the farm will keep him home more. That means more time with his wife and their six children. It will let them raise their own herd of cows.

Spend a little time with the Bekkums and you'll sense something special brewing: a true family business. It would be great to get out to the farm in the winter to continue documenting the family doing their first milking.
 
 A family photograph of the Bekkum family sits in a windowsill of their store during a grand opening at Nordic Creamery near Westby, Wis., Friday, Aug. 19, 2011. 

 Torger, left, and Dusty Bekkum, 13 and 11, respectively, sons of Al and Sarah Bekkum, handle Rose, a pony, during the grand opening of Nordic Creamery's store. In the background is the family border collie, Biscuit. 

Workers behind the counter wore novelty t-shirts during the opening.

 Al Bekkum wraps up an interview with a local television station in his butter production area.

 A selection of artisan butters made by Nordic Creamery: clockwise from left, garlic and basil butter, summer butter, maple syrup butter, and cinnamon sugar butter.

 The opening.

 Al Bekkum and his wife, Sarah, share a laugh after being presented with a special recognition from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture during the grand opening celebration.
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