About Kevin Stoer

Kevin Stoer is a fourth generation farmer, taking over part of the homestead at 6827 State Highway 147, Two Rivers, that’s been in his family since the late 1880’s. Great-grandpa, Joe Stoer, came from Germany and married a neighbor, Mary Margaret Goedjen, and received a dowry of 13 acres of land, where the couple built their farm growing wheat.  They had 11 children, but only 10 survived.  When Joe died at age 54, their son Walter, took on the responsibility of running the farm at age 14.  He dropped out of school with only a 7th grade education, but had learned a lot from his father Joe.  Walter moved from raising wheat to raising dairy cattle, which helped the farm succeed through the Great Depression. He recognized people who had money were people with a food source, so he began bringing eggs, butter, and milk into Two Rivers to sell.  He also began building the second and current farmhouse on the property. Walter married Viola Schmoock, and had one child, Russell, (Kevin’s father) who took over the farm in the 1960’s. 

 

Walter Stoer loaded up a wagon pulled by horses, packed the milk in cans on ice from the river, and went downtown Two Rivers ringing a bell to signal his arrival. The ladies would come out of their homes with jars, and he would ladle the milk in their containers.   In the early 1940’s, a bottling plant was built on the farm and milk was pasteurized.  Milk delivery routes using a truck were established then and bottled milk was delivered to homes in Two Rivers and Mishicot. It was a successful enterprise until the 1970’s when milk sales at grocery stores, gas stations, etc. became more popular.  The Stoer Dairy couldn’t compete with the prices, and the milk delivery routes were dropped.  About 1970, a dairy store was constructed across the street from the farm where customers could drive in and buy their dairy products; a real novelty!  However, it closed in 1995.  The building itself was torn down in 2018. 

 

Kevin is a lifelong resident at the farm and worked in all aspects of the farm business in a multi-generational setting.  He learned a lot from his ancestors.  Additionally, he has two brothers and an older sister.  Two of his siblings reside in the area and continue to be engaged in agriculture; one brother relocated to California.

 

After high school, however, Kevin went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education with an emphasis in Animal Science.  Additionally, he earned his Master’s degree in Educational Child Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He taught Agriculture in both the Mishicot and Green Bay School Districts, grades 6th – 12th grade.  Kevin later went on to become a school counselor and Student Services Department Chair at Green Bay West High School. He retired from teaching in 2009.  Furthermore, he was an FFA Adviser in both the Mishicot and Green Bay School Districts, coaching two Farm Business Management teams, winning the state and then competing in national competition.   Kevin is also the founder of the 4-H Alpaca/Llama Project for the Manitowoc County and the founder of the Mishicot Marvels 4-H club.  Additionally, Kevin initiated the FFA Alumni in the Mishicot School District and continues to be an active member. He is a former Milkhouse Superintendent for the Wisconsin State Fair, and is the current superintendent for alpacas/llamas and goats at the Manitowoc County Fair.  Kevin also judges a variety of livestock and crops at other county fairs in Wisconsin.   

 

Kevin started LondonDairy Alpacas in 1996.  He knew he didn’t want to keep dairy farming. “I didn’t want to raise anything I would have to butcher.  Those days were done for me.”  He did a lot of research on other livestock and came across alpacas, which were a new import animal to the USA from South America at that time; primarily Peru, Chile and Bolivia.  Alpacas are related to llamas, but have very different characteristics which appealed to Kevin. “They were not bred to be animals of labor, but for the fineness of their fiber.”  They don’t require a lot of space and are well conditioned for cold weather.   He began networking with a few other alpaca owners in Wisconsin and that began what is now called, “LondonDairy Alpacas.”

 

Kevin started with purchasing eight alpacas imported from Chile and was highly successful with them.  At one time, LondonDairy was home to about 125 alpacas.  Today about 50 alpacas on average call it home. Fifty seems to be a good, manageable number for the farm, which is now 100% no-kill.  About 5-6 babies (called “crias”) are born annually, and some adult alpacas are sold to people who meet Kevin’s approval standards. 

 

“I enjoy being home and sitting and observing them in their pens or out in the pastures.  They are curious and expressive,” states Kevin.  He realized educating people about alpacas is a big part of owning them, which he enjoys as a former teacher.  “I decided to offer educational and interactive public tours.”  Simultaneously, knitting and spinning seemed to experience a resurgence in popularity, so Kevin remodeled the former milk bottling plant on the property and re-opened it as a gift store in 2002 to sell yarn and fiber for the knitters, crocheters, and spinners. 

 

The farm employs, part-time, about four high-school aged people who work on a rotating schedule to do farm chores, cleaning, feeding, and other maintenance projects. A few volunteers also help with a variety of tasks as needed. 

 

The farm continues to expand its outreach to the public.  It now features a website, www.londondairyalpacas.com and an active Facebook page, LondonDairy Alpaca Ranch.  In addition to participating in and sponsoring sanctioned alpaca shows through the Alpaca Owners Association and the Great Lakes Alpaca Association, LondonDairy Alpacas offers almost two dozen public social events annually, including some that support local charities such as the Two Rivers Ecumenical Food Pantry and Wildlife of Wisconsin.  Kevin also hosts an annual 10-day tour to Peru.  Most recently, the farm acquired a liquor license and now features selected exclusive, boutique South American wines.  Many of the social events include wine tasting and drinking for those over age 21. The selection of products in the gift store, now called “The Alpaca Threads Gift and South American Wine Store,” has expanded greatly and features items made in the USA, Peru and Ecuador, all using the fleece of the alpacas: blankets, socks, gloves, mittens, hats, sweaters, capes, scarves, figurines, rugs, place mats, pillow covers, felted soap, bottled wines and more.

 

LondonDairy has a large pole building for indoor activities and plenty of outdoor seating enabling it to become a venue for birthday, graduation, retirement, family reunions and bachelorette parties.  Guided tours are offered by appointment only, almost daily in non-winter months for a nominal fee.  Several coach bus travel services make LondonDairy Alpacas a featured stop on their itineraries. School groups often visit LondonDairy for educational field trips.  Kevin also teaches an “Alpaca Basics Clinic” annually to anyone who would like to learn more in-depth about alpacas, or is considering owning them in the future.  “While they are wonderful animals to raise, they do have several specific physical and medical needs, so potential owners should educate themselves as much as possible prior to purchasing and owning them.” Furthermore, LondonDairy Alpacas is a vendor at some public events like the Wisconsin State Fair and other holiday gift and craft shows.  Kevin and the alpacas have also been featured on several network television shows in-studio and at the farm.

 

LondonDairy truly is a full-spectrum agri-tourism enterprise.  A wistful Kevin reflects, “I think Great Grandpa Joe would be very impressed.”  LondonDairy Alpacas continues to honor the past history of more than 125 years, but also keeps embracing the future.