BROOKLYN, Wis. – The Klondike Gold Rush has long fascinated Kevin and Erika Klahn – so much so they named their farming operation Klondike Farms.

“We’re intrigued by the allure of adventure and the risks people took,” Kevin Klahn said.

During the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897 tens of thousands of people traveled great distances to find gold in the Klondike River of Canada’s Yukon Territory.

The couple also owns and operates two agricultural-product trucking businesses – Klondike Express and Yukon Transfer. Klondike Farms of Brooklyn will host June 8 the 2019 Dane County Breakfast on the Farm.

As farmers the Klahns understand risks so they manage their business accordingly. They’ve diversified to weather market fluctuations. While most of their business involves growing corn and soybeans, they also grow sweet corn, peas and lima beans for canning customers.

The couple owns and rents more than 5,000 acres of farmland. In addition they provide custom-farming services, and in-state and out-of-state hauling. And they recently acquired Dawson Pointe Stable near Oregon, Wisconsin. There they provide boarding services for as many as 65 horses.

Kevin Klahn manages the day-to-day operations of the farming business while Erika Klahn manages payroll and accounting. The couple can count on help during busy seasons from his brothers – Todd, Bob and Brad Klahn – and parents, Lloyd and Ruth Klahn. Todd Klahn owns spraying equipment that the farm uses for liquid-fertilizer and crop-protection applications.

Kevin and Erika Klahn also have the help of their four children – daughters Abigail and Gabrielle, and sons Tanner and Gabe. The children have been involved in 4-H and FFA.

Klondike Enterprises – the umbrella for all of the businesses – employs 13 full-time workers. During planting and harvest seasons, Erika Klahn prepares two meals daily for the employees.

“We have an excellent staff and one of our employees has worked with us for 25 years, but finding high-quality labor is difficult,” Kevin Klahn said.

That’s one reason why Klondike Enterprises is reducing its number of custom-farming acres, he said. But custom farming is how he built his business. It helped him to be able to afford the equipment fleet now used by the farming operation.

Klahn began farming even before he graduated in 1987 from Oregon High School. He attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and was just a few credits shy of a degree before farming seemed to call him back, he said.

Breakfast on the Farm highlights grain

The annual Dane County Breakfast on the Farm is generally held on a dairy farm, but this year attendees will see a grain operation featuring a 400,000-bushel grain elevator. A significant portion of Klondike’s corn is marketed through Landmark Cooperative; it’s used to produce ethanol.

Kristin Olson, spokesperson for the Dane County Dairy Committee, said the breakfast at the grain operation will showcase the diversity of Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. The event’s expo tent, which traditionally has focused on dairy, will be extended in 2019 to displays and activities on the state’s other agricultural products.

The Klahns will showcase their trucks and semi-trailers, and attendees will be able to see the types of products those vehicles haul. Attendees also will be able to see end-products made from grains, such as ethanol from corn. Highlighted will be a display about the clean-burning qualities of ethanol and the partnership between the Wisconsin Corn Growers Association and the American Lung Association.

Also planned will be an educational display focused on sustainable farming to show how it can help protect water quality. Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water so the breakfast committee is highlighting that in the display, Olson said.

Klahn said he’s excited for the opportunity to talk with visitors to the breakfast – especially attendees who don’t have a farming background and want to know more about how their food is produced.

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Lynn Grooms writes about the diversity of agriculture, including the industry’s newest ideas, research and technologies as a staff reporter for Agri-View based in Wisconsin. Email to contact her.