The Huhe family – (from left) Tim, Diana, Katie, Abby, Jennifer, Linda and Galen – received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award. The Huhes milk 300 cows on their dairy near Cresco, Iowa.
The Huhe family – (from left) Tim, Diana, Katie, Abby, Jennifer, Linda and Galen – received the Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award. The Huhes milk 300 cows on their dairy near Cresco, Iowa. PHOTO SUBMITTED
    CRESCO, Iowa – When it comes to being a good neighbor, Tim Huhe keeps his philosophy simple.
    “We just try to do the right thing every day,” he said.
    That has been what has worked for the Huhe family and is part of the reason they received a Wergin Good Farm Neighbor Award presented by the Iowa Department of Agriculture in coordination with other agricultural organizations.
    Tim and Diana Huhe milk 300 cows on their dairy near Cresco, Iowa. Their daughter, Jennifer, works with them on the farm, as well as for a dairy genetics company, while their two younger daughters, Katie and Abby, are in college pursuing paths away from the farm. Although Tim’s parents, Galen and Linda, have transferred ownership to the next generation, they are involved in day-to-day chores.
    “When they first contacted me about this award … I said I wouldn’t accept it only for myself,” Tim said. “This place doesn’t operate because Tim Huhe is good at what he does. This place operates because everyone who is involved with this place is good at what they do and passionate about what they do.”
    Criteria for the award are simple. Farmers who receive it must be good to the livestock, land and community.
    Using high quality genetics plays a role in taking good care of their livestock, Tim said. About 95 percent of their herd is made up of medium-sized animals that are bred to have high components and milk, good health traits along with well-attached udders and good feet and legs.
    “They’re practical cows to make us money every day,” Tim said.
    The other 5 percent of the herd consists of what the Huhes call the fun cows – animals they show.
    “We’ve had some success in the show ring but that’s just a bonus,” Tim said. “That’s not the reason we do what we do. That’s fun.”
    The Huhes admit it makes economic times like this more bearable.
    “This is the stuff that gets you through the tough days,” Tim said. “You have to make sure you have a little fun along the way.”
    In addition to local shows, the Huhes have exhibited animals at the state fairs in Minnesota and Iowa, along with World Dairy Expo.
    Perhaps their favorite showing memory came a few years ago when their cow, New-Star Advent Hillary-ET, earned the grand champion ribbon at the Red and White Show at the Minnesota State Fair.
    “That was fun,” Jennifer said.
    The Huhes have been good to the land through each generation. Tim started working on the dairy in 1993 after going to college and working off the farm. He then bought a dairy in 1995 and started his own herd of 50 cows before also forming a partnership with his parents in 1996 for their 100 cows. In 1999, the family built their double-8 parallel parlor and freestall barn on Galen and Linda’s farm site.
    “It was time for everything to be at one location,” Tim said.
    In 2009, they bought another farm for youngstock; and in 2017, they welcomed Jennifer back to the dairy after she graduated from Iowa State University. She now takes care of the calves and transition cows. Eventually, Jennifer would like to take over the farm.
    “The norm has changed over the years,” Tim said in reference to the average number of cows milked on a dairy now compared to when his dad was in his prime in the industry. “What can I say is right for her (Jennifer) in the future? We don’t know what the norm is going to be when she’s sitting on this side of the desk, but we have to be prepared for anything.”
    Within the dairy community, Tim is president of the Dairy Foundation in Calmar, Iowa. He is also on the board of directors for the Howard County Fair and the Howard County Farm Bureau.
    “I’m active on a lot of boards, but the only way I can be active on those boards is if I have very good people all around me keeping the farm going,” Tim said. “That includes our workforce. We haven’t hired anybody for 12 years. They know everything inside and out.”
    When it comes to being a good neighbor, the Huhes said they have built relationships with those living around them. Plus, they try to communicate with their neighbors often.
    “There are probably some people who think we hauled manure on the wrong day or did this or that wrong, but all we can do is what we think is the right thing,” Tim said. “When they gave us the award there were probably 80 to 100 people there, and most of them were neighbors. Even though we were getting the award for being a good neighbor, I was looking at all the good neighbors.”
    Although the dairy industry is experiencing rough economic times, Tim tries to see the good in everything he does, a life outlook that came about because of a prior cancer diagnosis.
    “Until you go through an episode where doctors don’t know if you’ll see Christmas and you’re [diagnosed] in June, the rest is minute,” Tim said. “… I know there are bigger issues than just finances from time to time, so we find a way to get through tough times.”
    Learning to stay positive fits in nicely with his family’s philosophy to do the right thing, which has helped them be a good neighbor.