Large Family Leads to Loads of Tradition for This Iowa Farm Family

John & Jackie Fedeler

With a love for the land and of the great outdoors, John Fedeler feels fortunate that his father provided him with an opportunity to start farming 32 years ago when he was a senior in high school.  In 1984, he moved to the farm where he and his wife of 22 years are raising their family.

“Jackie is a great partner,” says John.  “She worked the first 10 years of our marriage at Rockwell Collins, and her off-farm job really helped us with the family living expenses.”

As their family grew, however, Jackie was needed more at home.  Since 2001, she has worked different part-time jobs but farming and family definitely takes priority.  The family raises corn and soybeans.  They also sell small, square bales of high-quality hay.  In addition, they calve between 60 and 80 cows that they then finish to market weight.

“Farming is a way of life for us,” says Jackie.  “By helping with chores, our kids have learned to be responsible.  They’ve learned to work hard.  They even ask their friends to pitch in and help.  When the work is done, we feed them well and John usually makes a batch of malts.”  The promise of pizza or grilled burgers plus John’s malts are key to rounding up a group of willing workers.  (NOTE TO SELF:  Remember to stop by the Fedeler farm place when black raspberries are in season.  Even if you have to help unload hay, it will be worth it for a taste of John’s homemade black raspberry or chocolate malts!)

John and Jackie are the proud parents of six, active children:  Jacob, 20, is  a freshman at Kirkwood Community College, majoring in Ag Business.  Daughter Kristine is a high school senior, and this fall she will attend the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) for nursing.  Danielle, 15, is a freshman, who loves sports, music and drawing.  Noah, 13, loves all sports, music and video games.  Ten-year-old Alex loves farming, and as a first-year 4-H member, he’s looking forward to showing two steers at the county fair.  Youngest daughter, Jerilyn, is eight.  She’s a little socialite, who likes just about anything.

It goes without saying that family gatherings are big for the Fedelers.  Jackie comes from a family of eight children and John from a family of nine.  John’s parents have 32 grandchildren, yet everyone makes it a priority to come home for the holidays.  John and Jackie hosted Christmas 2011 in their home for both sides of their family.  They said it’s not unusual to feed 45 or more, but they wouldn’t have it any other way.

In addition to spending time with family, John is also a volunteer fireman and EMT.  He plays on a men’s softball league and really enjoys riding his Harley.  He enjoyed Latham’s Freedom of Independence Ride around eastern Iowa and western Wisconsin last year and is looking forward to the company’s annual ride in 2012.

Jackie has joined a women’s golf league and is looking forward to the start of the new season.  She and the children are very involved with church activities, plus she enjoys spending time in the kitchen.  Jackie is such a good baker that she’s been winning contests since high school.

“During my senior year, I needed a project for my Home Ec class,” says  Jackie with a smile.   “I saw this recipe for Candy Cane Coffee Cake in an old Betty Crocker cookbook, and it was voted Best of Class.  Since it was such a good recipe, a few years later, I entered a holiday baking contest sponsored by the newspaper.  I won that contest, too!  This recipe has become a family tradition ever since.  My  mom, some of my kids and I enjoy making these coffee cakes and sharing them with neighbors and others in the community during the holidays.”

Candy Cane Coffee Cake



  • 2 packages (1/4 oz. each) active dry yeast
  • ½ c. warm water
  • 2 c. warm sour cream (110 to 115)
  • 6 T butter, divided
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 5 ¾ to 6 ¼ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ c. finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1 ½ c. finely chopped maraschino cherries
  •  2 c. confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 T. cold water
  • Additional cherries, halved



  1. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
  2. Add sour cream, 4 Tablespoons butter, sugar, eggs, salt and 2 c. flour; beat until smooth.
  3. Stir in enough remaining flour to form soft dough.
  4. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes.
  5. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to greatest top.
  6. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
  7. Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into thirds. Roll each portion into a 14-in. x 7-in. rectangle on a greased baking sheet.
  8. Combine apricots and cherries; spoon down the center of rectangle.
  9. On each long side, cut ¾-inch-wide strips about 2 inches into center.
  10. Starting at one end, fold alternating strips at an angle across filling.
  11. Pinch ends to seal.  Curve top.
  12. Bake at 375° for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  13. Melt remaining butter; brush over warm coffee cakes.
  14. Combine confectioners’ sugar and cold water until smooth; drizzle over top.
  15. Garnish with cherries.


Yields 3 loaves.