A visit with the Belties at Klover Korners


Kathi Jurkowski stands among her herd of Belted Galloway cows, otherwise known as Belties. Kathi is the owner of Klover Korners Farm and owns 15 of the unusual animals.

In 1989, Jerry and Kathi Jurkowski decided to retire and change their way of life. At that time, they were the owners of Hootman Dental Laboratory in downtown Rockford, Illinois.

Both Jerry and Kathi were raised in farm communities. They decided to return to their roots.

They bought a 160-acre bat-infested farm in rural Rockton, Illinois, built a large and beautiful home, and added additional outbuildings. A 100-year-old barn is still in use.

They named their new home, Klover Korners.

After moving to the farm, Jerry and Kathi became fascinated with Belted Galloway cattle (Belties).

Jerry and Kathi began traveled across the US, Canada, and Scotland searching for Belties to add to their herd. At one time, they owned a herd of 54 cows.

What's a Beltie?

The unusual breed is characterized by a broad white band around their middle. For obvious reasons, they are sometimes called Oreos or Oreo Cookie cows.

Written records date their origin back to 1580, though their ancestors were brought to Scotland by the Vikings. They come from the Galloway region of southwestern Scotland, which was settled by a mixture of Viking and Gaelic people.

Because of the bitter cold sea winds in Scotland, the cattle developed heavy double coats of thick, wavy hair as protection. The hair coat provides insulation during cold weather and makes them an energy-efficient breed.

Klover Korners

Jerry passed away in 2017, after a long illness. The couple had been married for 43 years.

With the help of her son, Shawn Lopata, Kathi has continued to manage the farm and all that it entails. She not only cares for about 15 Belties, she raises chickens, sunflowers, bees, vegetables, including lots of pumpkins. Shawn taps the grove of maple trees and markets the syrup.

Kathi s typical day involves feeding and caring for her animals, taking down fences, scattering feed for the chickens, growing her garden and marketing the Belties. She is active in the Great Lakes Belted Galloway Association.

Kathi has a special place in her heart for her Belties, especially the females. The fluffy bovines come in three colors: black, dun (silver and chocolate) and red. They are grass and grain fed.

The meat is considered exceptional: tender, full of flavor and lower in saturated fat.

"I have fed and nurtured them. Now it's their turn to nurture people," Kathi says. "It's the circle of life."

Belties have longevity on their side. Cows often raise calves into their late teens before going to market.

Sixty acres of Kathi's land is set aside for the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The program pays farmers to remove environmentally sensitive land from agricultural production and to plant species that will improve environmental health and quality.

Jean and Gary and grandchildren Lily and Leo Seegers are ready for a tour around Klover Korners, home of the Belted Galloway cows. The farm in rural Rockton is owned and operated by Kathi Jurkowski.

Our visit

My grandchildren, Lily and Leo Seegers, visited the farm with me. Both children are animal and nature lovers. They had a great time exploring the farm and were especially enthusiastic about meeting the beautiful Belties.

After being introduced to the herd, they fed the chickens and walked through the 100-year-old barn.

The tour ended at the party barn,  where we all indulged in root beer floats.

A perfect day at the farm.

Leo and Lily Seegers get instructions from Kathi Jurkowski about feeding the chickens at Klover Korners Farm.
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