November 29, 2021 at 7:59 p.m.
“Last week, I had a gal come up to me and said if the people from years ago were to drive past your farm today it would be unbelievable,” Arland Voth said. “They wouldn’t know the farm from back then would be the way it is now.”
Arland and his wife, Ardie, ran Voth Dairy for many years until they moved off the farm in 1990. Arland continued to help with field work, and today, he stops in to see what is happening. Now, most of the farm operations are done by his son, Brad, and his wife, Denise, who are passing the farm down to their sons, Brady and Nathan. The family milks 700 cows and runs 730 acres of corn and alfalfa for corn silage and haylage.
“I think we are all proud to say that this farm is on its sixth generation,” Ardie said.
Voth Dairy was started in 1877 with 160 acres purchased by Arland’s great-grandfather, Peter, who was born in Germany in 1843.
Then, Peter passed the farm to Arland’s grandfather, William, in the late 1920s. He later passed the farm to Marvin, Arland’s dad, in 1947. Arland took over the farm in 1961.
“It’s always been in the Voth family name,” said Arland, who has been on the farm his whole life.
As many farms were structured in years prior, the Voths’ dairy farm also included pigs, chickens, sheep, ponies and rabbits.
The only original building from 1877 that is still on the Voths’ farm is the kitchen and upstairs of the house which have been remodeled.Other buildings which were rebuilt when Arland was farming consist of the tiestall barn built in 1957, the Harvestore built in 1973 and the slatbarn also built in 1973.
“We built one of the first slatbarns in the area, and there, we fed out steers,” Arland said.
The tiestall barn was converted into a parallel parlor, the slatbarn is used as a sorting area for the parlor, and the Harvestore is used for high moisture corn.
“For me, just to look out the window here, it’s amazing because the buildings were old and you didn’t have any cement or crushed rock. We milked the cows when the barn was over here, and we had to carry the milk to the road because there was too much mud to get the truck into here,” Arland said. “I mean that’s the way it was 70 years ago. How things changed like that is pretty amazing. We dug waterpipes in from the house to the barn. And, we did it by hand, and there’s no thought about doing that now.”
Today, Brady does a lot with the crops and machinery, breeds cows and mixes feed. Denise handles all the youngstock and calves. Brad does most of the feeding, mixing, and ordering and inventories for feed. Nathan helps the herdsman, Marlyn; he also handles most of the animal protocols, crops, fieldwork, employees and bookwork.
In addition to Marlyn, who has been with the farm for more than 20 years, the dairy has 10 more part-time and full-time employees who help with feeding the cows and calves and milking. One of those employees is Vanessa Johnson, Brad and Denise’s daughter. She works with the dry cows, administers vaccinations and cares for the calves.
One of Ardie and Denise’s favorite parts of dairying was raising children on the farm.
“You knew where they were, and you always had them helping and learning new things,” Ardie said.
Brad and Denise are thrilled to be able to share their work ethic and love of farming with their five grandchildren they now have running around the farm with them. They also have two more grandchildren on the way.
“It gives us a chance to visit and connect with the kids one on one,” Brad said.
Similar to Arland, Brad grew up on the farm and worked his way into staying on the farm; however, he wanted a different experience for his sons.
“As far as my sons here, one thing I wanted them to do was get some further education,” Brad said. “I wanted them to try different jobs and see what they thought of it out there. The farm will be here when you come back. And I was pretty proud they both came back to the farm.”
Brady went to school at Minnesota State College Southeast Technical in Winona and got a job as a small engines mechanic before deciding to come back to the farm.
“As a kindergartener, he never wanted to go to school. He just wanted to stay home and farm with his dad,” Denise said. “It was hard to push him to school because he knew what was going on at the farm.”
Nathan went to a 16-month course for architectural drafting and design at Northwest Technical Institute in Eagan and got a job for a general contractor in Lakeville after college. He worked in commercial construction as a project manager for seven years before deciding to come back to the farm.
“I came back to the farm because I enjoy the lifestyle,” Nathan said. “I like working with my family, animals and being active outside.”
Nathan and Brady are happy everyone kept their role so they could be the sixth generation.
“It means a lot that my dad, grandparents and everybody before me kept the farm going so we could take it over,” Brady said. “They made it through all the tough times and were able to keep it afloat and keep farming.”
In addition to being full-time dairy farmers, the Voth family has always been involved in their community starting with Arland running a trucking business in addition to farming.
“We had three trucks on the road along with milking cows and everything else we did,” Arland said.
Arland also operated an insurance agency, was on the Haycreek Board of Directors, was elected mayor of Goodhue and drove school bus with Ardie for the school district. Brady and Nathan have been involved in youth organizations, like 4-H and FFA, and Brad and Denise help with the county breakfast on the farm event each year.
Farming has changed over the years, but the Voth family’s commitment to the dairy remains unchanged.
All in all, the Voth family is excited to see what changes and improvements the sixth generation will make and looks forward to the years to come.
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