Farmers rally around family in Wisconsin

Here’s your daily dose of bittersweetness:

Late last month, 14-year-old David Briel and his 51-year-old dad, Daniel, were killed by a silage collapse in a silo at their Barron County (Wis.) farm. Another son escaped.

The family decided to sell their heard of dairy cows after losing the two.

John Benninger, the sales manager at the company where an auction was held in Thorp this month, saw a small calf from the herd and decided to buy it for $100 and give the money to the family.

Then he sold it. And donated the money. The person who bought it sold it again. And that person sold it to another. And that person sold it, too. And on and on it went. Eleven times, the calf sold. And the Eau Claire Leader Telegram reports the final buyer just got a call offering to buy it. All the money is going to the family.

“It is a very cute calf and it has personality,” Benninger tells the paper. “It may not know it is famous, but it kind of acts like it is.”

It has a name now, too. “D.D.” For Dan and David.

At the auction, root beer floats and pizza were served. They were the favorite drink and food of the pair.

“We had a local farm lady who came and made root beer floats and made so many, she had a blister on her hand,” Benninger said. “There were a lot of things, including cash, donated for the family. Just that day we had a total over $4,000, and it wasn’t just people in agriculture; it was everybody, from different states even.”

With all the hard times in the farm industry right now, Benninger said it was inspiring to see all the good that is still out there.

“Everybody pulled together and that is what we should do, we should all stick together,” he said. “No matter if you are a farmer or not, we all need to stick together and help each other.”

The good has continued to spread, reaching beyond the state line to Iowa farmer Steve Nolte, an administrator on the Facebook group “1/​64 Farming Operations.” After hearing about the accident, he wanted to do something for the family.

“We are a strong toy community and most of us are somehow involved in real farming operations,” Nolte said. “We knew a situation like this could have happened to any one of us.”

They formed a committee with another Facebook group from Indiana, “Farmers Toy Store,” and came up with an idea to hold a farm toy auction with proceeds going to the family.

The auction has received donations from more than seven states, including from toy manufacturer SpecCast in Dyersville, Iowa.

The roughly 75 items were sold and Nolte said they expect to be well over their goal of $5,000.

“We had no idea what to expect in this, but we knew that people would step up and boy, did they ever,” he said. “Items are selling for double their retail value. If we stay on our current track, we may get closer to $10,000.”