Catholic Herald staff
Jerry Geisler and his fiancée, Amy, were in marriage preparation classes about 25 years ago when they first learned about natural family planning.
A dairy farmer, Jerry looked at his future bride and said, “This is just like cows.”
“We both came from heavy dairy backgrounds,” he explained. “It kind of just clicked.”
The couple married in autumn and Amy moved to Jerry’s family farm in Bruce, where they live, work and raise their children: Daniel, 21; Karla, 19; Claire, 13; Casey, 12; and Emily, 9.
Today, the Geislers milk 30 Jersey cows and live a fairly self-sufficient lifestyle at Buff Creek Jerseys. They have goats, chickens, rabbits, cats and a dog, as well as a greenhouse and a large garden. Jerry’s parents live a mile away.
Raised Lutheran, Amy also grew up on a dairy farm in Bruce. Jerry took her out for chocolate on their first date, but every subsequent date included Saturday night Mass. She agreed to convert before they married; neither wanted to deal with religious division.
“We wanted to be on the same page while raising our family,” she said.
Members of St. Mary, Bruce, the Geislers are active in their small parish. Jerry is an usher, sacristan and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion; Amy takes communion to the homebound. The girls play piano and violin, all the kids are altar servers, and Daniel is a greeter and an extraordinary minister of holy Communion. The family also cleans the church.
Besides serving their parish, Jerry and Amy have ministered to their diocesan family as natural family planning teachers and promoters for more than 10 years.
The couple was certified in 2000 to teach NFP classes, and they served in that capacity for a couple of years. Now NFP promoters, they give out brochures and speak about their experiences; they are scheduled presenters at the For Two Are One seminar Oct. 18 in Phillips.
“That’s our way of doing that – helping others do God’s will in their marriage,” Amy added.
When they married, the Geislers were also allied in their desire to homeschool their children. They never really needed to discuss it.
“We homeschooled right from the start,” Amy said. “We’ve graduated two; three to go.”
“Amy’s the main teacher,” added Jerry. “I’m the substitute, the principal and the superintendent.”
The couple said part of the decision was sacramental.
“We took our baptismal vows very seriously,” Amy said. “We are the first and best teachers of our children.”
While they enjoy the flexibility and freedom of homeschooling, Amy feels personalized instruction is the greatest benefit.
“You know your children, you know where they’re at, you know their level,” she added.
The Geislers use a Christian-based curriculum that jibes with their philosophy.
“We live our life as Catholics,” she said. “We pray a daily rosary together, and we go to church on all holy days and Sundays, and we live the faith.”
When they aren’t working, the Geislers like to play games and instruments – piano, violin, mandolin, flute and more. Casey is a big fan of hunting.
“I like ballet dancing and I like babies,” said Claire.
“Even though I don’t get to do it very often, I like horses,” added Emily, who also gave an impromptu violin recital.
Jerry and Amy enjoy going on the occasional motorcycle ride – the same mode of transport they took on their first date – and stopping by a restaurant en route.
The couple’s adult children, Karla and Daniel, live at home; Karla is studying business management at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Rice Lake, and Daniel works at Tractor Central in Sheldon. He also owns Geisler Repair, a provider of farm tire sales and service.
This is a busy time at Buff Creek Jerseys. The Geislers are seasonal milkers, which means they breed the whole herd to produce calves around the same time.
Starting in early July, none of the cows need milking until they calve in September.
“All of our cows are dried off for about six weeks,” Jerry said.
“So Jerry has all the cows on NFP,” Amy added.
“That’s where the NFP really started – with these cows,” her husband said with a grin.
Seasonal milking allows them to take a break from chores each summer; this year, they went camping, hiking and fishing in the Colorado Rockies for four or five days. Jerry’s nephew, a local, was their tour guide.
The family intended to go to the Grand Canyon, Jerry said, but they got hung up in Steamboat Springs. Maybe next year.
Now back into the swing of agrarian life, the couple compares their farm work to their ministry as NFP promoters.
Although they’ve given witness talks for many years in Medford, “It’s very hard to measure our success,” Jerry admitted.
“We can only plant seeds,” said Amy.
“That’s what we do,” her husband added. “We farm. We can only plant seeds and hope they come up.”