In 1895, William F. Arndt moved with his family from Lima Township to La Prairie Township just outside Janesville, WI. His oldest boys, Jack and Ben, drove the family cows down the roads while Willard, five years old, rode in a buckboard wagon with his mother and sisters, Hattie and Anna.
They rented the farm by mail, and when they arrived at the new farm, there was no barn for the cows like they had expected. Although they were devastated, they drove the cows into a hole in the ground where they were able to milk them night and morning.
In 1922, Carrie Mae and Willard Arndt bought their first farm on Read Road. Willard took great pride in his stud horses. He raised Brown Swiss cows, and Carrie Mae raised chickens. In 1929, the stock market crashed. This marked the beginning of The Great Depression.
In the fall of 1930, Willard Arndt Jr. was born. It is said that he was born to be a farmer.
When Willard Sr. became ill, Willard Jr. had to begin farm work at very young age in order to keep the farm running. The depression only worsened their living conditions, but they always made due. The family was almost completely self-sufficient. They had a garden for vegetables and canned meat since there were no freezers at that time.
At harvest time, Willard and Willard Jr. would go out into the fields and put the wheat into shocks by hand. The shock would have to dry for a certain amount of time before the wheat could be thrashed. Since they didn’t own any machinery, they would have to wait for the thrashing machine to come from someone who owned a thrasher. Twenty or so farmers from the area would work together to separate the grain from the chaff with the machine. The women would feed the men and take care of the home.
Because of Willard's illness, in 1945 the family was forced to leave the farm and move into town. Although they were no longer living on the farm, he couldn’t give up farming.
Willard Jr. was miserable living in town, and in 1947 he rented 80 acres from his father and began farming them. He was still in high school at the time. In 1948, Willard Jr. graduated from high school and moved back to the farm. From that year on, Willard Jr. made sure that he would never have to leave his farm again.
In 1951, a tornado knocked down the barn. That same year, Willard Jr. bought his first tractor, a 1947 Allis Chalmers WC, and began doing custom work. He also continued to raise cows and pigs.
In 1953, Donna Ransom and Willard Jr. were married in Shopiere United Method Church. Donna helped with the farm and ran the household.
In 1953, David was born to Willard Jr. and Donna. That same year, Willard Jr. rebuilt the barn that was destroyed by the tornado. Only a year later, on November 28, 1954, Robert was born. Like Willard Jr., David and Bob were born farmers.
From 1957 to 1958, Interstate 90 was built through LaPrairie. Men working on the interstate lived with our family, and Donna cooked them breakfast every morning.
In 1959, Willard Jr. put up a machine shed at the home farm. Measuring 100 x 60 feet, the shed was one of the biggest in the county. It was made out of steel and even had a cement floor. After it was completed, a barn dance was held. People from all over Rock county and southern Wisconsin attended.
The 60’s marked a decade of growth and expansion. In 1960, Willard bought a new piece of land, which is now “The Corner” and headquarters of Arndt Farms, Inc. In the fall of 1963, Allan was born. He would join his father and brothers to carry on the farming tradition.
By 1965 the farm consisted of crops, Holstein cows, feeder cattle and hogs.
At the beginning of 1970, Willard Jr., David, and Bob began designing a beef confinement barn. Completed in 1973, the barn measured 430 x 58 feet and enabled cattle from three different farms to be housed in one place. That same year Arndt Farms hosted the 1st Annual Beef Cookout of Rock County.
By 1974 the farm was harvesting several acres of crops. Willard Jr. even installed a two-way communication system in the tractors and the base station, Donna's kitchen. These radios allowed Willard Jr. and Donna to make business transactions even while Willard Jr. and the boys were working in the fields.
Because of the growth of the farm and the boys’ passion for farming, on January 1, 1975, Arndt Farms became a corporation. It insured that the farm would stay in the family no matter what. In 1977, Willard Jr. finally had the opportunity to buy the land that his grandfather, William, had farmed in 1895. He immediately installed Arndt Farms first irrigation system.
In the fall of 1983, Austin was born to Bob and Mary. He would become the first Arndt of his generation to continue the family farm. Abraham was born in the fall of 1988, to Bob and Mary. Like his father, he too was born a farmer.
The fall harvest of 1992 would be Willard Jr.'s last. He was diagnosed with cancer in late 1985, but he wouldn’t let that stop him. Faithfully, he worked hard for the next seven years. He always wanted to go "one more round". In April of 1993, at 62 years old, Willard Jr. passed away.
At the end of the 90’s, we began harvesting the specialty crop peppermint.
In August of 2000, Arndt Farms Inc. sold the dairy herd. By 2001, 70% of cropland was irrigated, which kept crop yields high even through drought seasons. David, Bob and Al were now farming with the help of Austin and Abe.
In the spring of 2005, Austin graduated from Iowa State University with an Animal Science Degree and began working along side David, Bob and Al full-time. In 2011, Abe also graduated from Iowa State University with Animal Science Degree. He too became a full-time farmer.
As of 2017, Arndt Farms Inc. is farming several acres with 75% of those acres owned by the farm. In addition, Arndt Farms Inc does custom farming and forage harvesting for neighboring dairies. Every year they raise a healthy heard of beef cattle and beef cows.