September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
Verndale, Minn.; Wadena County
How did you get into farming? I grew up on the farm where I now live; farming with my Dad and brother, Mark. In 1991, the partnership dissolved with Dad's retirement. I purchased the home farm and Mark moved to another farm and built a new milking parlor.
Tell us about your farm. We farm about 600 acres, growing corn, soybeans, hay, and oats. Utilizing our feed source to maintain our 90-cow dairy herd and raising our own replacements. My nephew, Paul, has a farm nearby and helps us with everything. My wife, Sharon, has an off the farm job but handles some of the outside feeding morning and night. We have two daughters; Sara, 18, is in college and commutes back and forth which enables her to help with milking. Our other daughter Stacy is in junior high; she describes herself as "chore boss" handling the baby calves and gives herself a promotion to "milking assistant" when necessary.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Just being successful at this business and having well-maintained up to date equipment to work with. About five years ago, we put in some irrigation and that has worked out very well.
What has been the most challenging aspect of dairy farming for you? There are many challenging aspects to this industry. When the milk prices are poor and unstable that alone is always a challenge, along with the weather not always cooperating and the high input costs.
What is your favorite technology? Why? The smartphone; being able to check the weather and market conditions from the tractor or barn is a great time saver. The cell phone in general is a great tool, as help is just a call away. Technology growth in tractors with power shift capabilities is a huge asset for ease of operation.
What is your plan for your dairy in the next five years? Stay where we're at for a few more years then start cutting down on cow numbers.
What is your favorite job to do on the farm? I enjoy most everything, but raising baby calves watching them thrive and grow to maturity would have to be my favorite.
What is your favorite dairy product? Cheese; there are so many choices available.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. We're pretty good at properly servicing equipment and catching problems before they become major issues.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Short vacations are nice, but I most enjoy a ride on the four-wheeler around the neighborhood, watching crops grow, and like most farmers a catnap is always nice when I can sneak one in.
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