September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

A day in the life of the Flanders

By Jennifer Borash- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Editor's note: A Day in the Life will be a constant feature in the Dairy Star. We hope you enjoy this feature as we follow different dairy farmers around for one day in their busy schedule.

GROVE CITY, Minn. - At the Flanders' dairy farm near Grove City, Minn., it's nothing out of the ordinary to find multiple generations working together.

Just as Rick Flanders worked with his father and took over the farm in 1978 to become the fourth generation of Flanders on the farm, his son, Joe (31), and nephew, Adam (21), are now working with Rick to become the fifth generation. The three - along with Rick's wife, Sandy - work together to manage the Flanders' milking herd, calves, dry cows, 100 steers and 1,200 acres.

"It's nice," Rick said on April 3 of the working relationship between himself, Joe and Adam. "It's working good."

Friday, April 3, like most mornings for the Flanders, began early.

"Adam and Joe get here everyday around 4 a.m.," Rick said. "I try to be in the barn by 3:30."

Milking was underway by 4:30 a.m., with Joe and Adam managing the seven units. In August 2008, Adam - who has been working for Rick for five years now - bought 30 Holsteins of his own and added them to Rick and Joe's herd, bringing the milking herd number up to 77.

"It usually takes just over an hour to milk," Adam said.

Rick, meanwhile, milked the fresh and sick cows in separate pens and fed the calves. By 6 a.m., early morning chores were done. Rick headed to the house for breakfast with Sandy while Joe and Adam went to Joe's house.

Sandy, who grew up in the Twin Cities, has been learning the ropes of farm life since she and Rick married one and one-half years ago. And she has been a quick learner, Rick said. She helps with monthly DHIA testing and regular chores when Joe or Adam are gone, along with managing the everyday housework.

"Sandy's done really well," Rick said.

However, being a farm wife is not Sandy's only job. She works four days a week as a dental assistant in Willmar, Minn.

Friday is Sandy's day off from her town job, but instead of sleeping in and relaxing, Sandy spends her Fridays catching up on housework, helping on the farm, and baking bread. Friday, April 3, was typical.

"While I was feeding calves at 5 a.m., she was making bread," Rick said.

"I mix it up in the morning," Sandy said. "It takes about half an hour. Then I let it rise while I do other work."

After breakfast, the Flanders worked on cleaning the barn and feeding the dry cows. On April 3, Joe skipped out on these chores and headed to Osakis, Minn. for an auction that had been rescheduled from Tuesday, March 31. Adam, after feeding the dry cows, vaccinated some cows while Rick cleaned the barn and loaded the manure spreader.

For the remainder of the afternoon, Adam and Rick did odds and ends chores. Adam went to the heated shop - "The best building I've built here," Rick, who has worked as a carpenter, said - and worked on the discbine until he ran out of bolts for replacing the blades; Rick headed to the machine shed.

"I've gotta grind a couple of loads of feed now," he said.

At 3 p.m., Joe pulled back into the Flanders' yard, hauling the farm's latest piece of machinery - a silage blower.

Evening chores began with the Flanders feeding their steers and heifers and bedding cows. At 4:30, Adam and Joe were once again manning the milkers.

"I just like milking cows," Joe said of his main job on the farm. "If you treat them right, you see the results in the bulk tank. With crops, you don't see the results until fall harvest."

Adam also enjoys the cows, especially from a nutritional standpoint.

"I like seeing what you put into the cows and what you get out," Adam said. "Just taking care of the animals."

Having finished housework and the bread, Sandy was able to go out to the barn and help her husband finish feeding the calves. With that many workers, things tend to go smoothly and quickly on the Flanders' farm. As Joe watched the final cows, Adam washed the milkers and, eventually, the pipeline.

The milkers were put away by 5:50 p.m. allowing Rick, Sandy, Joe and Adam an evening to themselves. For Adam that meant an early night, with hopes of being more awake and accurate for his dart tournament the next day. The thought of food and good company called to Joe, who decided to visit his grandmother for a fish supper. Rick and Sandy spent the evening at their neighbors, visiting.

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