The Callstrom family – (front) Walter; (back row, from left) Carl, Torin, Jake and Richard – milk 40 cows on their dairy near White Rock, Minn. They spent a good portion of Oct. 18 combining soybeans. 
The Callstrom family – (front) Walter; (back row, from left) Carl, Torin, Jake and Richard – milk 40 cows on their dairy near White Rock, Minn. They spent a good portion of Oct. 18 combining soybeans. PHOTO BY KRISTA KUZMA
WHITE ROCK, Minn. – While this fall has not been ideal for being in the fields, Oct. 18’s sun and wind provided good conditions to put in a full day of harvesting.
The Callstroms took full advantage of the conditions on their farm in Goodhue County near White Rock, Minn. In addition to milking 40 cows, the family also farms 1,200 acres, finishes 200 steers, raises 40 beef cows and manages a trucking route.
The patriarch and matriarch of the family, Richard and Alice, farm together with their two sons and their families: Adam and his wife, Shannon, along with their children, Lexy, 16, Jake, 14, and Ciara, 12; and Carl and his wife, Katelyn, along with their children, Torin, 9, Walter, 8, Milton, 6, and Lois, 5.
Chores on Oct. 18 started at 3:30 a.m. with Carl milking the cows and Richard feeding them, much like most mornings.
“I don’t mind it,” Carl said about milking cows. “If it took me three to four hours, I’m not sure I would like it as much.”
Starting milking early allows them to get daily chores done so they can start on other projects earlier on in the morning.
Most days, Carl and Richard take care of on-farm chores while Adam hops in a cab for a full day of trucking.
“He hauls for other people and is here at the farm to help at night and on the weekends,” Richard said. “He likes to do it (trucking) and it’s good income for the farm.”
By 9 a.m., Carl and Richard were preparing the combine to harvest soybeans accompanied by their helpers Jake, Torin and Walter. The kids were home from school for MEA break. The Callstroms finished their 40 acres of corn silage one week prior and moved promptly onto soybeans.
“Normally other years we would be combining soybeans right now,” Richard said. “So we’re not really that far behind. Maybe two weeks or so.”
However, the rain has been plentiful, said Richard.
“The fields are wet, but they’re not impassable,” he said. “We won’t get stuck, but there might be a bit of mud on the road.”
Of the Callstroms’ 1,200 acres, 350 acres are beans, 50 acres are dedicated to alfalfa and the rest of the acres are corn.   
“The corn is wet at about 25-30% [moisture],” Richard said. “It’s going to take a lot of gas to dry it.”
They also plant rye as a cover crop on the ground where they have chopped corn.
“I’ve been planting cover crops for at least 30 years, long before they started calling them cover crops,” Richard said.
When the gas tank had been filled and all hinges greased, Carl drove the combine out to the soybean field followed by Richard in the truck pulling the combine head and Jake with Torin and Walter in the tractor with the grain cart.
Carl started on the farm full time in 2005 after he attended Dakota County Technical County for heavy equipment mechanics.
“We try to work on equipment ourselves,” he said. “But when it’s the electronics or computer we don’t.”
After Richard helped Carl get the head on the combine, Carl started harvesting the field. As the combine rolled through the field, the day’s strong wind gusts kicked up dust and bean stubble, swirling it around the powerful machine. Just to the north, was a small field of fourth crop of cut alfalfa waiting to be chopped the next day.
“I like that every day is different,” Carl said of his favorite part about farming. “I like it all.”
Richard headed back to the main farm to feed the beef cows.  Although they are usually on pasture at a different farm site, the beef cows were at the dairy for pregnancy checking the day before. Richard likes this arrangement of work.
“I like livestock better than crops,” he said. “I don’t get a kick out of sitting in a tractor.”
During that time, Alice was outside trying to tidy up the garden and landscape areas before colder weather came. She is also in charge of feeding calves, and she and Shannon each tend to their flocks of chickens.
“I liked working in the field and driving the tractor,” Alice said about her favorite part of farming in the earlier years. “I like the calves, too, except when they’re sick.”
Richard attested to the quality of Alice’s fieldwork skills.
“She was my best tractor driver,” Richard said. “When she left the field, it was ready. She was particular about getting it right.”
Now the majority of the tractor and equipment driving is given to their sons. It is how their farm progressed as Richard and Alice figure out farm transition for their family.
“Transition is hard,” Richard said. “Things have gotten so expensive.”
When Richard bought the farm from his parents in 1981, he paid $2,000 per acre.
“And then I farmed through the ‘80s when it was the tough farm economy,” Richard said. “My dad helped me until he passed away.”
Richard hopes to be able to help his sons while passing on the family farm.
The rest of the morning and afternoon were focused on getting the soybeans harvested. While Carl combined, Jake drove the grain cart and Richard drove the semi to the grain bin set up to unload when needed.
By 4 p.m., Alice, Torin and Walter fed calves and Richard brought in the dairy herd from the pasture.
“It looks like I’m milking tonight,” Richard said.
Milking usually is not his job anymore since he had knee replacement surgery a few years ago; however, Richard did not mind the change in the day’s schedule.
“Milking is an easy compared to everything we do,” Richard said. “It’s relaxing.”
After milking, they continued with soybean harvest before calling it a day at about 9 p.m.
“It gets to be a long day and we don’t need any accidents,” Richard said.
At the end of the day, the Callstroms are thankful to have had a good day to get in a full day of harvest.