Carrying tradition forward

Seedorfs named farm family of Otter Tail County

Posted

PERHAM, Minn. — The work of four generations of the Seedorf family was rewarded when Seedorf Dairy was named the 2023 Otter Tail County Farm Family of the Year.

“We didn’t really know we were even considered for it until they told us,” Amanda Seedorf said.

Paul, who is the third generation to own the farm which was established in 1905, and his wife, Amanda, and their children — Carter, Clayton and Caylee — milk 55 cows in a single-8 parallel parlor near Perham. 

The family farms 240 acres of land between corn and hay to provide feed for their cows, chickens, goats, turkeys and a rabbit.

“It’s just me, my wife and kids,” Paul said. “It’s just the family that keeps (the farm) going.”

Like many farm families, the Seedorfs face many difficulties throughout any particular day.

“There are a lot of different challenges, like keeping the cows as healthy and happy as they can be and trying to figure out how to keep the farm operating at the current milk prices,” Paul said.

Amanda said trying to balance her time between the farm and her career as a lab technician as well as their children’s school and 4-H activities can be hard at times but is worth it.

 “It gets hard, but I also have the mindset of when I’m at work, it’s my time away from the farm, and when I’m home, it’s my time away from work,” Amanda said. “I just think of it as a vacation from the other.”

Through all the variations of operating a dairy farm, many things make the farm special to Paul and his family.

“The memories I have here from my childhood and how long the farm has been here with being a small dairy makes it special,” Paul said.

Amanda agreed. 

“The animals make it rewarding because their personalities are all different, and they are like pets to us,” Amanda said. “We have one Jersey that follows us around like a dog. Also, we appreciate being able to build the farm up to where it’s at now.”

The family is involved with many organizations within the community.

“I help with 4-H from time to time,” Amanda said. “I also help with firearm safety and am a field-certified trainer for it.”

Paul has been a member of the Lakes Community Cooperative Board for a decade.

“At the time they asked me to join, it was an older group of guys, so I joined,” Paul said.

All three of the Seedorf children are or were active in 4-H. Caylee has been the most active. She took home the title of champion overall crossbred cow for the last two years in a row at the Minnesota State Fair.

“I have friends in 4-H, and they come from farms and understand me,” Caylee said. “It’s more than just my school friends.” 

Paul and Amanda started getting involved with 4-H when the kids wanted to join six years ago, and they continued to become more involved every year.

“Having cows that compete at the state fair is exciting,” Paul said. “Caylee always keeps pushing me to breed for better cows.”

The Seedorfs have been bringing their animals to their local breakfast on the farm for the last three years. Their 4-H club manages the animals there for others to interact with and learn about.

“It keeps us active in the community, and we get to see new people all the time,” Amanda said. “It also gets us off the farm.”

Paul agreed.

“We are giving back to the community,” Paul said. “Somebody has to do it. If nobody volunteers their time, a lot of the activities wouldn’t pull through.”

The Seedorfs are happy to be involved with the community while also keeping their farm operational.

“Being able to stick the highs and lows out, from drought to economic changes and even the longevity of the farm is special, along with being able to raise a family on a farm,” Paul said. “There aren’t a lot of people who can say they raised their kids on a farm.”

Amanda also grew up on a farm and never thought she would marry a farmer. But she is grateful that she was wrong and glad she can be involved in the dairy community. Farming runs deep through Paul’s blood, going back to when his ancestors first came to America. 

Paul intends to keep that tradition alive.

“I just hope to be able to keep farming,” Paul said. “Like everything, sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. I like working with cows. I’ve always liked cows, and I love doing what I’m doing.”

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