Norb Bechtold feeds TMR to his milking herd the morning of June 14. 
Norb Bechtold feeds TMR to his milking herd the morning of June 14. PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
    ST. ROSA, Minn. – Each day is something new for Norb and Deborah Bechtold. June 14 was no different.
    “Each day you get something else done,” Norb said.
    Norb milks 66 cows on his farm near St. Rosa, Minn., which he has owned for 10 years. Previously he farmed with his brothers near St. Joseph, Minn.  
    “I like this place,” Norb said. “It is peace and quiet out here.”
    Norb married Deborah Brusewitz two years ago. As she is not originally from central Minnesota, they met on
    Beginning at 5 a.m., Norb started his day with breakfast before heading to feed the cows and clean the barn.
    The Bechtolds’ bed their cows with wood shavings.
    “They soak up good, and they go through gutter grates,” Norb said.
    After morning chores, Norb begins milking around 7 a.m. During milking, Deborah helps to feed the calves.  
    “They haven’t lost a calf in three years,” Deborah said. “I have my routine.”
    Outside the farm, Deborah works full time at the Mother of Mercy Nursing Home in Albany, Minn. But she does enjoy the dairy life.
    “I like being outside and the freedom,” she said. “I don’t have to answer to anybody except myself. And, I like the animals. I have to be in scrubs at my other job, but here nobody cares what I wear.”
    In addition to helping with calves, Deborah also does the farm’s financials.  
    Inside the barn, Norb continued to milk. During milking, his Dairy Herd Improvement Association tester called and set up a time for Friday to test.
    “I have an idea what I am going to do today,” Norb said. “But I go with what is thrown at me each day.”  
    Half way though milking, neighbor Cory Herdering came to begin cutting hay.
    After milking, the Bechtolds’ cleaned up and began the next thing on the to-do list.  
    Norb does all the breeding on the farm himself.
    Keeping busy with random tasks throughout the day, Norb does not mind doing any of it.
    “Its like I’m married to dairy farming,” Norb said. “You keep doing it… I’ve just been doing it my whole life.”
    Even though prices are not great, Norb still sticks with farming each day.
    “I once told a young guy, ‘You don’t get rich farming. It’s a way of life,’” Norb said. “One guy once told me, ‘Farming is an addiction,’ and I had to agree with him.”
    Norb will be 55 this year and eventually will not be able to keep doing this every day. Despite it all, Norb said he will miss dairying when he is done.
    “Maybe one day I’ll be lucky enough to find a young person who wants to take over my farm,” Norb said. “Then I can teach him.”
    On June 14, Norb had 15 acres of hay down and planned to be wrapped in the afternoon.
    With the 40 acres he still had left to do and his wife at work, Norb was thankful for the help of Chris and Cory Herdering, the sons of neighboring dairy farmers Tom and Sandra Herdering.
    Cory and Chris come help when Norb needs extra hands for fieldwork.    
    “They have been good to me, and I have been good to them,” said Norb about his working relationship with the Herderings. “We help each other out.”
    At 1 p.m. on a beautiful sunny afternoon, the Herderings and Norb started baling hay.
    Cory hauled bales, Chris wrapped bales with his family’s wrapper and Norb ran the baler. Together they baled 83 bales of hay on about 15 acres of land.
    “It was an excellent crop,” Norb said. “It wasn’t as good of quality as it could be, but it is good for the heifers.”  
    Finishing at about 5 p.m., Norb mixed feed and fed cows for about an hour and a half until it was time to milk.
    While milking normally takes just over four hours, Norb was in to the house by 11 p.m.
    “It was a little later than usual, but I had to get it all done,” Norb said. “Everyday is a to do list. But, it often gets thrown out the window when something else comes up. But that is the way farming goes.”
    Having better days, but also having worse, Norb had a decent day. Everything worked out.
    “There were no tough calvings, the baler didn’t clog up, and we didn’t lose any bolts,” Norb said. “I think that is a pretty good day.”