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Daniel Smith's family began farming the Smith home farm in northwestern Illinois in 1938, where for more than 50 years they shipped milk from the dairy herd without missing a day. Daniel began operating the farm with his father in 1978, eventually owning and operating the farm with his wife, Cheryl and sons, Austin (published Longhouse poet), Ryan and Levi.
In the mid-1990's, the Smith transitioned the farm to a grass-based dairy utilizing sustainable farming practices. In 2008, with their sons grown and decades of dairying behind them, Daniel and Cheryl sold their farming operation and relocated to a small farm in southwestern Wisconsin where they pasture-raise poultry and beef along with hay and organic vegetables.
Smith's poems have chronicled his decades on the farm, and more recently his emotional detachment from it and into a new life on new land. His book, Home Land, was published in the collection Human Landscapes by Bottom Dog Press in 1997. His essay, An Honest Living, which dealt with his decision to sell his dairy herd, appeared in On, Wisconsin, the alumni magazine of his alma mater, The University of Wisconsin - Madison.