March 15, 2021 at 4:37 p.m.
Not the same career but aligned career paths brought dairyman Richard Reiman and milk truck driver Jim Skogquist together in a working relationship – and eventual friendship – that has held steadfast through the years.
“Richard was on my first milk route of 18 dairy farms when I started hauling milk in March 1980,” Skogquist said. “He is the only one left on my original route.”
Reiman took over the family farm near Princeton in 1978. The dairy includes a 50-cow tiestall barn and cropland. Reiman previously milked in a step-up parlor for a few years when his cow numbers grew to 75. Today, Reiman’s daughter, Kristen, and her husband, Thomas Duden, own the farm as the fourth generation. Reiman continues to work on the farm, milking 40 cows and completing daily chores.
In 1980, Skogquist was just steps away from beginning his own career as a dairy farmer. Skogquist later withdrew his farm loan application. Weeks later he found himself with his own milk route, hauling milk for Cloverleaf in Minneapolis.
“One thing led to another,” Skogquist said. “I like dairy farming. I grew up with it, and by hauling, I was able to be around it.”
That was also the year Skogquist began his every other day milk pick up at the Reiman dairy farm.
With common interests in dairying and farming, Skogquist and Reiman quickly developed a lasting relationship.
“It’s like when you meet someone and you find out what type of person he is, I knew Jim was the type of person you want to be around,” Reiman said.
Skogquist was surprised one day shortly after starting hauling Reiman’s milk that they shared a connection. Skogquist attended the same 4-H group as Reiman’s wife, Margaret. He had not seen her since they were 14 years old.
“I saw her at the farm one day and I was kind of shocked to see her,” Skogquist said. “I stopped and reminisced with her.”
In 1995, Skogquist moved to the Princeton area where he purchased cropland and raises corn and soybeans. Farming in the same area brought him and Reiman even closer through sharing equipment and helping each other with farming tasks.
“The relationship worked,” Reiman said. “We found something in common, and we often worked together.”
In 2001, Skogquist sold his milk milk truck and began a construction company. At the same time, Reiman transitioned to producing organic milk requiring a different milk hauler.
But in 2012, Skogquist found himself filling in for the local milk hauler and once again began visiting the Reiman farm every other day.
“I went back to selling conventional milk and Jim happened to be hauling milk in the area for First District,” Reiman said.
Skogquist was pleased to once again be stopping at the Reimans’ farm.
“It just happened that I was hauling for First District and Richard’s neighbor was selling to First District too,” Skogquist said. “Richard is my first stop in the morning.”
At 8:30 a.m., Skogquist backs his semi-trailer into the quarter-mile long driveway. While the milk is loaded onto the truck, the two men catch up for a few minutes in the milkhouse.
“I’ve enjoyed a lot of different conversations with farmers over the years,” Skogquist said. “All different subjects. I have an interest in farming so it’s easy for me to talk with them.”
At 63, Skogquist continues filling in for drivers three days a week. The schedule works well for him to enjoy time off but also continue doing something he enjoys.
“I’m going to keep doing it for a while yet,” Skogquist said. “I don’t know how long but as long as my health is good. I would miss it if I didn’t.”
At 67, Reiman, too, intends to continue farming for as long as he is able.
“They say don’t do anything different when you retire,” Reiman said. “It’s easy for me to say as I have something I can keep doing as long as my daughter needs me to milk cows and my knees keep working.”
Long, enjoyable careers have carried both Reiman and Skogquist through many ups and downs in life – all while building a lasting friendship with each other.
Although neither Reiman nor Skogquist plan to retire soon, they both know they will keep in touch even without the visit in the milkhouse.
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