PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
PHOTO BY MARK KLAPHAKE
    ELROSA, Minn. – The combination of hard work and a lot of hours culminated in a successful day on Roelike Dairy Sept. 5 near Elrosa.
      In between the hours of 4:30 a.m. and 10 p.m., many tasks were accomplished. The chores for the family’s dairy herd, which includes 200 cows, were done, and a good part of the silage pile was built on a warm Saturday afternoon on the Stearns County dairy.
    “We got about 25% of chopping done for the year,” Robbie said. “That was a pretty good feeling knowing you had that big of a chunk done.”
Phil (Butch) and Sandy Roelike, who farm with their son, Robbie, had corn silage on their mind when the first Saturday of September started.
    Robbie and his cousin, Brandon, started the day before sunrise. They got the milkers ready in their double-14 parlor and brought the cows into the holding area. Brandon, who has been milking for 10 years at Roelike Dairy, then milked the cows while Robbie scraped the barn and started mixing feed.
    Robbie mixed three batches for the day. The ration consisted of beet pulp, haylage, soybean meal, corn silage and shelled corn.
By 7 a.m., Nicole, Robbie’s girlfriend, and Phil, arrived. While Nicole fed calves, Phil helped finish milking and cleaning up the parlor.
    After a quick breakfast, corn silage was on the forefront for the Roelikes.
    Robbie went to a neighboring dairy to open up a couple of their corn fields with his 6-row self-propelled chopper.
    While Robbie was gone, Phil, Brandon and a neighbor, Kevin Wesbur, who helps with chopping on the dairy, worked on getting their silage pile ready.
    The dairy had not used all of last year’s silage, so they had to take off the tires and pull the plastic back, as well as take the gravel off on the ends so they could incorporate the 2020 silage into the pile. Once that task was complete, Brandon greased the boxes and the Roelikes were ready to chop.
    By 2 p.m. Robbie was filling loads just south of the farm site, while Mark Weller, Matt Kasper, and Kevin and Brian Wesbur hauled loads. Brandon took the job of blading and Phil drove the tractor with duals for packing purposes.  
    “I just fill in where I have to, and we go from there,” Phil said.
“We know what has to be done.”
Robbie agreed.
“Sometimes it is pretty hectic but for the most part I enjoy it. It keeps me on my toes,” he said. “It went really good.”
By 5 p.m., Nicole started the evening milking and a short time later was joined by Phil. The two finished chores by 7 p.m.
In the meantime, the silage crew stayed at it until 10 p.m. when they figured they had done enough for one day. At the day’s end, Robbie figured they had harvested around 50 acres.
“It is nice to have pretty good help. We have been fortunate over the last few years. Everybody who helps us is pretty good,” Robbie said. “It’s fun when everything works like it should. You can do a lot of stuff in a day.”
Roelike Dairy will plant several varieties of corn including Allegiant and DeKalb.
    “We are trying to get close to 68% moisture and doing a good job packing,” Robbie said. “Everything I have seen looks pretty good.”
    The Roelikes formed an LLC four years ago. Before that, Robbie worked off the farm for several years as an electrician. He then came back and did electrical work and farmed with his parents before setting his sights completely on the dairy farm.
    “I like to see the cattle and the end result after your breeding and feeding,” Robbie said. “It’s something I always wanted to do. I’ve always enjoyed it. I like being my own boss. I like working with the animals and the fieldwork.”
    Robbie will be the third generation of Roelikes to work on the farm. His grandpa started the dairy in 1956.
     “I always had a notion that’s what he wanted to do. He was always involved in farming. You knew in the back of your mind that he was going to come back,” Phil said. “Once he started coming back, he started buying cows and adding to it.”
     The farm has continued to grow since Robbie made the commitment to come back. They have increased the herd to 200 cows and now milk in a double-14 swing parlor.
    The Roelikes were hoping to finish their corn silage pile in the next several days and have one of the biggest fall challenges, chopping, behind them.
    “I will be happy when we are done,” Robbie said. “As much as I enjoy doing it when everything is going good, when it’s done it’s going to be a good feeling.”
    Phil agreed.  
    “Once we have the feed on a pile, then we know we are good for another year,” he said.