Jim and Kim Henschel farm 425 owned and rented acres and milk 150 registered Holstein and registered Jersey cows near Elkhart Lake in Sheboygan County, Wis.
Both grew up on Sheboygan County dairy farms and started dating when Kim was still in 4-H. Jim, 51, and Kim 46, have been married 23 years and have three children: Sarah, 21; Austin, 18; and Katelyn, 15.
Jim serves on the Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah School Board.
In June, the Henschels were shocked to learn Jim has Stage 3 colorectal cancer.
“You never think it’s going to happen to you or your family,” Kim says. “We take one day at a time, and we do whatever we can do.”
So far, Jim (pictured) has had two rounds of chemotherapy. The second round forced him to be hospitalized for 12 days. On Oct. 4, he was given radiation treatments in the hospital for five days.
“Then he will go back on lighter doses of chemotherapy,” Kim explains. “Hopefully after that, in November or December, he can have surgery.”
Kim works full time on the farm, Deer-Vue Acres, milking cows and feeding calves. Their oldest daughter, Sarah, also works full time on the farm milking and doing chores. Katelyn is a student at Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School and helps part time on the farm. Austin is a freshman at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa, where he is majoring in marketing and business.
In addition to working many hours each day on the farm, Kim has a full-time job off the farm at Hennings Cheese in Kiel, Wis.
In July, Jim knew he wouldn’t be able to harvest their corn silage, so he contacted Ken Strack Jr., a dairy farmer who milks 450 cows in Random Lake and does custom harvesting, to see if he could chop their corn silage.
“I didn’t know Jim, but my wife and I are good friends with Jim’s brother Jeremy and his wife,” Strack says. “Jeremy is our hoof trimmer.”
After going out to the farm and getting a tour of the fields from Jim, Strack decided to donate half his time and equipment. Six other area farm families donated their tractors, wagons, a packing tractor and their time to harvest 140 acres of corn silage at the Henschel farm. The harvest started on Sept. 28 and, thanks to all the help, was completed the next day.
“Normally this job would have cost the Henschels $16,000, but thanks to everyone donating their time and equipment, it only cost them $4,000,” Strack says. “We did this because we care. I always like to help people out who are going through tough times because if something were to happen to me or my family, I’d want the community to help me.”
Kim says they are thankful for all the help and support.
“We’re grateful for our friends and neighbors,” Kim says. “After they finished chopping corn, the football team and some football alumni from Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah High School came over and covered the silage pile with tarps and tires.
“Our friends have been so great through all of this. If I have to go to a doctor appointment with Jim, one of our friends or neighbors will come over and milk so I can go.
“It’s truly amazing — all the people who have helped. It’s very humbling that we have friends we didn’t even know we had.”