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

Women in Jeans: Stephanie Larson

Pennock, Minn.
Kandiyohi County
48 cows

Family: I'm married to David Hallberg (we celebrated our 25th anniversary this past December) and daughter Caroline, 13.

Tell us about your farm. We have registered Holsteins, both red and white and black and white. Caroline has her own herd as well. We raise corn for silage and buy the rest of our feed. We are a closed herd, Level 4 Johnes' free, TB accredited, and AI bred for over 25 years. We moved here 23 years ago after renting the facilities from Harold Lovander, whom David bought the original herd from, before we were married. We have not bought a cow since. We calve every month, raise all our heifers, sell our steer calves and have put some bulls into studs.

What is the busiest time of day for you? Usually the mornings are the busiest. That is when the cows go out, stalls are scraped and re-bedded, mangers swept clean and fresh TMR is put down. However, evenings can also be busy with normal chores, cows calving and a school or 4-H event. But, then throw in yard work, book work, house work or running errands and the whole day can be busy. During school days, if David is gone for a meeting and I am on my own, I can figure staying in the barn until noon or so.

How much time do you spend doing farm work compared to housework? The majority of my time is spent outside. When you live on a dairy farm, there is always something to do. House work gets done when it gets done.

What do you do in your free-time and why? The word free time is kind of like the word vacation - not in our vocabulary very often. I love to read, do cross stitch, bake and plant flowers every spring. We also like to meet up with friends and go out for pizza.

What's the best thing about farming? Working side by side with David, seeing a new calf born and watching her grow to become a milk cow. Teaching Caroline responsibility, common sense and compassion. It's hard to beat the smell of fresh clean air, fresh cut hay and fresh calf feed. It's also pretty great to go to bed at night, knowing that by taking care of our land and animals, we have provided a healthy dairy product for people to eat and drink.

When you look back on your life, what do you want to be remembered for? I'd like to be remembered for being a good wife, mother, friend and a strong promoter for the dairy industry.

Do you have any ideas that could make farming easier for you and all farming women? A few things that have made farming easier for me would be our Bobcat 3560, christened Rhonda, great help and the saying "washable, dry-able, and flexible." With Rhonda, I can haul small bales, bottles, a wheelbarrow of silage and a water barrel all in one trip. She saves me a lot of time and labor. We've been able to find some great help from our neighbors and after they graduated from high school and went off to their own lives, we have found some help with the dairy program at Ridgewater College. Definition of great help? Someone who understands that dairy farming is more than five days and 45 hours per week. They know plans can change if a new calf is born, a vet needs to be called, or the weather can change your plans. They know the day doesn't end just because the sun has gone down. Our super help would be named Paul, Brant and Skylar. Not that it falls under making farming easier, but it sure would be nice if people could better understand that just because I don't get in a car and drive to work, doesn't mean I don't have a job. All I have to do is open the door and step outside, whatever the weather may be and sometimes whatever time it may be.

Tell us your most memorable experience while dairy farming. Being I was also raised on a dairy farm, it would be hard to just pick one special memory. I think a few would involve moving to this farm and making it our home, a baby Caroline sleeping in her swing in the barn and seeing a cat snuggle up in the swing with her. When she was 3 years old, she was helping me put barn lime down on the floor and got it all over her face and clothes. I told her it was a good thing she was washable and dry-able. She ran over to David, who was sweeping the mangers, tugged on his shirt and said "Daddy! Daddy! Guess what? I'm washable and dry-able!" She was so happy to know that.
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