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Photog Captures 'Tough Kind of Beauty' in Daily Life on Wisconsin Farm

Sometimes during the hustle and bustle of the city life, people need to escape. Some escape to the country roads of Wisconsin, looking for that serenity.

Photojournalist Craig Schreiner went looking for a picture for a story and he turned to the country. Serendipity came into play when he saw a farmer bailing hay one late afternoon. He got out, captured the moment, and made a new friend out of the farmer.

The farmer was Jim Lamberty, who was a second generation farmer on that property. He farms with his brother, Gordy, while their mother, Marie, helps out wherever she can. The Lambertys use the same equipment their father used over 50 years ago.

Schreiner asked Lamberty if he could come back and take more pictures of the family’s way of life and they said yes. After a year’s worth of photographing the farmer and his family, Schreiner compiled his book, One Small Farm: Photographs of Wisconsin’s Way of Life.

Credit Wisconsin Historical Society Press
A photographer captures the intimate moments of life on a small family farm.

"It was a tough kind of beauty – and I thought of that (writer Norman MacLean) phrase a lot when I went to the farm," he says, "because that really was their life. The days were long, there really was not leisure time as we know leisure time.  But the trade-off was the beauty, the animals, and the land."

Schreiner first heard MacLean’s quotation in a radio interview. He applied the thought to the Lambertys and other farmers, who get their hands dirty and calloused to create beautiful crops and to take care of their dairy cows.

“People’s lives are written on the fields of the old farms," he says.

Jim and Gordy Lamberty have spent their entire lives on this farm. Their routine has remained the same, their equipment has not changed, and their lives evolved around the animals and their crops.

In the book, there are pictures of their clothing. What is unusual about their clothing is that they have kept the same work clothes for decades. They did not buy new clothes once they tore, but kept mending and patching, making their clothes more colorful and unique.

Craig Schreiner is a photojournalist and university photographer for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. He will be at a book signing at Books & Company in Oconomowoc on Wednesday, October 16th at 7 PM.