January 30, 2022 at 7:14 p.m.

Vierlings are full of history 

Farm dons surge buckets, step saver, model T fence posts 
The Vierlings – (from left) Becky, Mike and Bob – operate a 50-cow dairy in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The farm has been there since 1861.  PHOTO BY KATE RECHTZIGEL
The Vierlings – (from left) Becky, Mike and Bob – operate a 50-cow dairy in Prior Lake, Minnesota. The farm has been there since 1861. PHOTO BY KATE RECHTZIGEL

By Kate Rechtzigel- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. – Tucked within the metropolis of Prior Lake lies a dairy farm that has been there since 1861. 
“I still milk with the old surge buckets and a step saver,” Mike Vierling said. “It’s the old way of dairying, but I like it.” 
Mike and his wife, Becky, farm with their son, Bob, on their sixth-generation dairy farm in Scott County. The Vierling family milks 50 cows, raise 30 beef cows and run about 750 acres of corn, soybean, alfalfa and a cover crop of winter rye. The farm was recognized as a century farm in 1976 and a sesquicentennial farm in 2019. 
Over the years, the farm has become the way of life for all of the Vierlings’ kids; David, Bob and Bethany. 
“I started feeding calves in grade school,” Mike said. 
Bob agreed. 
“We all started that way,” he said. 
As Mike got older, he took on fieldwork. He started running the farm full time with the help of his sisters, Lucy and Susie, after their dad passed away in 1995. 
“They helped milk until the boys were old enough,” Becky said. 
The Vierlings’ ancestors came to the farm from Germany in 1861. 
“Back in those days, we used working horses. My dad said he bought the plow and the John Deere Model G with one milk check,” Mike said. “We also had pigs and 700 chickens.” 
Bob agreed. 
“We sold eggs to the grocery store back then,” he said. 
Currently, they own two farm sites about 1 mile apart. 
“We used to milk in a 20-cow barn with cans when we first started,” Mike said. “Then in 1982, we moved down to this farm site that had a 40-cow barn. We thought that was huge at the time.” 
Today, the farm is also home to 20 chickens, three peacocks and a pet turkey. 
“He was walking back and forth in the barn today watching me milk,” Mike said of the turkey.
The farm has expanded over the years, going up to 70 cows in 1990 and 100 cows in 2000. However, due to government restrictions, the farm had to cut the herd in half. 
“That and the city has probably been our biggest challenge,” Mike said. “But it’s also kind of fun living this close to people who have never seen a cow before.” 
On the farm, all the milking and feeding is handled by Mike. Bob manages all the crops and decision-making, and Becky handles the bookwork and runs errands. 
“She puts all the pieces together,” Mike said of his wife. 
Bob also runs a custom hay cutting and baling business. He also plows snow for residential and commercial properties. 
“This year, I went all the way from Webster up to New Germany. If it’s enough acres, I go and cut it,” he said. “Plowing snow is a fun gig, and it helps to cover the cost of equipment and feed we need to buy. It gives us money in the bank.” 
Over their years of farming in the city, the Vierlings have many fond memories, including their time farming on Prior Lake. The family has 55 acres of land surrounding the lake, where they take their herd to graze during the spring and bring them home around Thanksgiving.  
This was always a fun experience for the Vierlings because it also meant they had to walk the herd across the road. 
“They only got spooked one time by a school bus; otherwise, they knew exactly where to go,” Mike said. “Now we use a trailer to bring them home because traffic has gotten so bad.” 
Up until eight years ago, the Vierlings were using their original red barn which was over 100 years old. The barn was used for horses, calves and beef cows over the years. 
“It really started to lean so we had to take it down,” Mike said. 
The Vierlings have always treasured their rich history in farming. Six years ago, Bob found and purchased one of the dairy’s original tractors, a John Deere 620. 
“We traded it off in 1978, and we knew where it went, so when the guy had an auction, I went and bought it,” Bob said. “People wondered why I bid so high.” 
Unlike 50 years ago when it was the farm’s main tractor, the John Deere 620 is now used for raking hay and running the auger. The farm also has the original John Deere Model G which was used for cultivating. 
“My dad always said that stayed with the farm,” Mike said. 
They also have the granary which was built in 1886 and is used for storing ground feed. The original milkhouse and barn frame with the silo is also standing. The barn, which was built on the second site in the 1940s, they still milk in. And, the farm has the original windmill and pump house and fence posts that were made from Model T cars. 
“My dad said those fence posts would last longer than the wooden ones and, well, they’re still here,” Mike said. 
The only upgrades have been the milkers and a bigger bulk tank in addition to some equipment. 
“It’s hard to upgrade when the city puts laws on it,” Mike said. “But we try to upgrade the worn-out stuff as needed.” 
The farm has tried new cropping techniques. 
“We did a cover crop of winter rye the past couple years, do some no till and switched from 38-inch rows to 30-inch rows; it seemed to work really well for us,” Bob said. 
In the future, the Vierlings would like to buy a new farm where there is less traffic. 
“Until then, we are going to use what we got and keep going until we’re not here anymore,” Mike said.



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