September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
That was about thirty years ago.
Today, he is still chasing that dream. And the minority status is becoming a much bigger issue.
Back then, he thought he had the best of both worlds; doing what he really wanted to do and making money at it! Course, that was back in the early 1980’s, so there really wasn’t a whole lot of money being made since the interest rates were suffocating.
Before Kevin graduated in 1979, he bought about fifteen 400# heifers. He then took the necessary training in order to artificially inseminate them as they became of age. He was still working his regular job while he was caring for the cattle and looking for a farm to buy.
He did not find an affordable farm to purchase close to him in Sherburne County, so he was forced to look further and further from home. That’s how he ended up in Todd County, Minnesota! When I first saw the place he bought, I was immediately frightened for him and all the work that lay ahead for him. Then, the excitement came. And if I was excited for him, it was nothing compared to the enthusiasm he showed.
No matter that the place needed much clean-up and repair; so what if the fields had been neglected; not a big deal to live in an older trailer house; nothing was clouding his vision for what the farm could be!
The enthusiasm was contagious and I caught on.
“Of course,” he told me “You will have to wait until I get my feet under myself before I can even ask you to marry me.”
(That was May 26th, 1981. We were wed August 1, 1981. And no, his feet were not firmly underneath and holding fast, but we figured we would go the battle better as a team!)
In our twenty-eight years of marriage and farming, we have sold out more than just a couple times, only to jump right back in. Fortunately, we took our marriage vows much more serious. We have regretted some of those decisions, while some were very solid ones.
We have been on this farm since 1991. Here, we have tried a variety of different ways to operate a dairy farm; even milking a different breed. The nice thing about farming is that you are our own boss. No one is telling you what time to do chores, how to run your operation or make your profit.
Or are they? The freedoms to operate they way we want to are diminishing at a steady pace. Looking as far as we are able to into the future, we can assume that this trend will leave the family farm only for the history books. And what about the next generation who envisions themselves as farmers? Do they have the enthusiasm that Kevin had when he first started out?
I do not want to see the family farm disappear. I would like to believe that the future looks bright for this next generation of farmers. Minority or not, we are a hard-working, determined bunch who would rather work for our income than get a hand-out. You know what they say about farmers: ‘a fraction of the population feeding the entire population’! We are a proud group of American citizens whose dream is truly an American dream.
Besides encouraging each other, how can we help to make sure the family-size dairy industry does not dry up? [[In-content Ad]]