December 13, 2021 at 10:14 p.m.
St. Stephen, Minnesota
How did you get into farming? Peter: I grew up into it. I always liked the cows. I like their demeanor and they are fun to work with. I also enjoy the genetics part. Jim and Marilyn: This was my (Jim) parents’ farm and has been in the family since 1867. Peter will be the fifth generation to farm here. I (Jim) worked for five years and then came back to the farm. I knew the only way to stay on the farm was to milk cows. We bought 18 cows April 30, 1982, and started milking. We always concentrated on the cows.
What are your thoughts and concerns about the dairy industry for the next year? The biggest concern is the continued growth of these large farms; they get bigger and bigger. The small farms are getting out. We hope more young people will stay on the family farms. It is so important.
What is the latest technology you implemented on your farm and the purpose for it? The skidloader. It is the most important piece of equipment we have.
What is a management practice you changed in the past year that has benefitted you? We built a new barn. It’s a loose housing building that faces the south that we bed with corn stalks or straw. The cows went in Jan. 29. The cows were outside the first 38 years we farmed.
What cost-saving steps have you implemented during the low milk price? None really. We’ve always been conservative. We spend what we have and put our trust in God.
How do you retain a good working relationship with your employees? We don’t have any employees. The cheapest thing you can buy is your own labor. But we do hire out our corn planting, and chopping and combining of corn.
Tell us about a skill you possess that makes dairy farming easier for you. Peter: I know the cows inside and out. I know their personalities and pedigrees without referring to a sheet of paper. Jim: I try to keep the mood light around here. I like to joke around. Marilyn: I always keep the farm books up to date, and I’m very organized and particular about everything I do.
What do you enjoy most about dairy farming? Peter: Being your own boss and working with my family and cows every day. Jim: I love to work outside and the variety of work there is. Marilyn: Being with family every day, being with the kids (five, all of whom have grown up) and raising them on the farm.
What advice would you give to other dairy farmers? Trust in God. A couple others are do what you think is right and know your financial information so you can make good decisions. We joined the farm business management program in about 1989. Knowing our numbers and where we were financially all these years has helped us make decisions. We made mistakes, too, but with God›s help and knowing our numbers, it helped us make decisions. We know we are not the best or biggest farmers out there, but are just doing the best we can with what we have. Everyone’s situation is so different; it’s very hard to give anyone else advice. We kind of live by, “Just do your best, and let the Almighty do the rest.”
What has been the best purchase you have ever made on your farm? The skidloader. You have to have a good skidloader.
What has been your biggest accomplishment while dairy farming? Being able to raise our kids on the farm with all the life lessons that brings. Making the farm into what it is today. We have only two buildings left from when we started: an old log granary, which we are trying to preserve, and the house. We have had to tear down the old buildings and replace them with what we have today. Keeping the farm in the family for four generations and hopefully into the fifth if Peter continues to farm.
What are your plans for your dairy in the next year and five years? We would like to either build a parlor or make improvements to what we have, to make it more efficient. Turn the farm over to Peter.
How do you or your family like to spend time when you are not doing chores? Watch amateur baseball. All four of our sons played amateur baseball and Peter, John and Paul still play. John and Paul play for the Sartell Muskies, and Peter plays for the St. Wendell Saints. If the boys don’t have a game, we’ll find a different amateur game to watch. It’s great entertainment; baseball players and the fans are great.
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