September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
"It's a calling," Sadie said. "We both grew up on farms and have that same connection to animals."
Now after seven years of making their start in the industry, their calling has grown into more than a career, but rather into a lifestyle they love. Glen and Sadie - who have two children, Dan (5) and Monika (3), and another one on the way - were named the 2012 Producers of the Year by the Minnesota Milk Producers Association. The family received an award during the evening gala on Nov. 27 at the Midwest Dairy Expo in St. Cloud, Minn.
"We were shocked and surprised," Glen said about receiving the award. "We're just ordinary people who are farming."
The Frerickses milk 75 cows on their farm in Stearns County near Melrose, Minn.
"Lots of stars had to align to be where we are now," Sadie said.
The couple met at the Minnesota State Fair while working in the Gopher Dairy Bar. They dated while attending college at the University of Minnesota and were married in 2002. The two each had industry jobs - Glen as a meat inspector for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Sadie at the Farm Service Agency in Isanti County - when the opportunity to dairy became available.
"My dad wanted a different job, but didn't want to sell the cows or the farm so he asked if we wanted to manage it for one year," Sadie said about the farm she grew up on in Tamarack, Minn. "I couldn't stand the thought of my dad selling the cows."
Glen and Sadie had talked about dairy farming at some point, but it wasn't in their plan to start this early.
"I basically twisted Glen's arm," Sadie said.
In 2005, the two moved to Tamarack to start their new venture as young producers.
"It was challenging, and people thought we were crazy," Sadie said.
But it was their opportunity to try farming without making a huge investment.
"It was all part of the stepping stones and the journey that needed to happen," Sadie said. "If it had not gone that way, we might not have been able to get established."
The next year, a dairy farming couple, Jane and Sam Salzl, asked Glen and Sadie if they would be their herdsmen for a year after Sam was in an accident. Glen knew the family growing up and the two even did relief milking for the Salzls when visiting Glen's family on the weekends.
"We knew it was what we had to do. It was almost like the hand of God intervened and said this is what you need to do," Sadie said.
Although it was hard for Sadie to move away from her family, the couple moved to Stearns County and closer to Glen's family on Aug. 26, 2006. They brought their herd of cows with them. The next spring, they were given the option to stay with the Salzls for another year.
"By that point, we were ready to find our own farm," Sadie said.
They wanted to be within a five-mile radius of Glen's parents so they could share equipment. Sadie put a map above her kitchen sink with the parameters and went to work; however, the process was more challenging than they thought. After searching the area and looking at more than a half dozen farms, they discovered the farmsite across the road from Sam and Jane - a 20-acre parcel- was in their price range. They immediately contacted their realtor and started the purchasing process. They finally bought their current farmsite in July 2007.
Finding their farm was one of the biggest challenges in their career. Another challenge has been balancing family time and farm work, especially as the kids grow and become more involved in school.
"We get a lot of help from family, friends and neighbors," Sadie said about help on the farm and with the kids. "We also have a great team of advisors and consultants."
Along with help from others, Sadie and Glen rely on faith to get them through the challenging times.
"It's the faith that everything will work out in the end. People would constantly ask us what our next move was and I would say, 'I don't know, but it will work out,"' Sadie said.
When facing a challenge, they also like to remind themselves of their successes thus far.
"Our lender once told us to look at how far we've come and what we've accomplished so far. We can't always focus on the challenges before us," Sadie said.
These successes have included earning their first milk quality award and improving their reproductive program. Updating areas on their farm, such as better stalls, lighting and ventilation in their barn have helped their herd. They have also been able to add manure storage and now feed calves using an automatic calf feeders. All these aspects have helped improve the quality of life for their animals. The Frerickses started farming with 40 cows and have now doubled the herd.
"It's been challenging to learn how to sell cows. We get so attached," Sadie said.
As their herd continues to improve, Sadie and Glen keep a philosophy in mind: on their farm, they want happy and healthy cows, happy and healthy people, and high quality milk.
"We try to give the cows the best life possible," Sadie said.
The Frerickses' herd is milked in a tiestall barn. During the summer, the cows spend the majority of their time on pasture. In the winter, they stay in the barn and go outside during the warmest time of the day.
"Letting our cows out everyday is a lot of extra work, but it's what's best for the cows," Sadie said.
Beyond the farm, the Frericks are members of the Minnesota Milk Producers Association and are involved in Minnesota Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers and Ranchers. Sadie is part of the committee that coordinates the county's Breakfast on the Farm and is also a writer for the Dairy Star. They also take the time to open their farm to tours.
"... We feel it is crucial for farmers to actively engage in their communities," Sadie said.
In the future, Glen and Sadie have made it a goal to try to continue to make improvements on their farm to increase efficiency and animal comfort.
"We want to be more efficient so we can be more involved in our kids' lives, the community and the dairy industry," Sadie said. "We don't plan to be in a tiestall barn all our career."
Regardless of the time in their careers, they still feel the best part of farming is being together.
"I am able to work with my spouse and do something as a family that the kids can be a part of," Glen said.
It's all a part of their calling.
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