FRAZEE, Minn. – Being both dairy farmers and fathers is a rewarding experience for the Aho sons, and one they feel has blossomed from watching their dad in the same roles.
    “We learned a lot from Dad,” Adrian Aho said. “He has always worked hard and taught us to be honest, two traits I hope to show my kids.”
    Reino and Peggy Aho raised 11 children – Tanya, Tim, Amanda, Jamin, Laureena, Adrian, Thomas, Jolie, Brett, Stacie and Moriah – at the family’s farm, Aho Brothers Dairy, near Frazee, Minn.
    As a dairy farmer, Reino was immersed in the dairy industry, and, now, he has the privilege of watching his children find their pathway in farming and fatherhood.
    Tim, the oldest son, milks 140 cows with his wife, Sarah, near Frazee, Minn. Together, the couple has 10 children – Kent, 20, Jacob, 18, Gloria, 16, Brianna, 14, Lance, 12, Jacqueline, 10, Carter, 8, Kirk, 5, Catherine, 3, and Ellie, 7 months.
    In May, Jamin and Adrian began leasing Aho Brothers Dairy, where the family grew up.
    Jamin and his wife, Gina, have five daughters – Avery, 12, Maija, 10, Krysten, 8, Callie, 7, and Claire, 3.
    Adrian and his wife, Tamra, are raising one daughter, Rykynn, 9, and three sons, Lane, 7, Wes, 5, and Lars, 4.
    “I think we all had an interest in farming because it’s the lifestyle we grew up in, and we enjoyed it,” Jamin said. “There was always freedom to roam around and being home with family was also good.”
    The other Aho siblings who are involved in the dairy industry are Laureena, Jolie and Moriah. They farm with their spouses, Andrew Keranen,  Andrew Ingvalson and Neil Meech, respectively. Thomas also lends a helping hand on the farm Jamin and Adrian now operate.
    Growing up, every child had their set of responsibilities on the dairy – like milking cows, feeding youngstock and cleaning pens.
    As Aho Brothers Dairy grew, the chores became more extensive and milking was divided amongst the Aho cousins in four stall barns.
    “Dad was always a hard worker, and we worked hard with him, but Sundays was our day to relax,” Adrian said.
    Jamin agreed.
    “Us boys would all go camping on fishing opener,” he said. “We wouldn’t get much sleep, and then we’d come back to the farm and have to pick rock.”
    Then, Reino and his five brothers built a 500-cow freestall barn which made the work simpler.
    The patriarch of the Aho family has always been well known and respected in Becker County and throughout the dairy industry.
    In his younger years, Reino would often take his children on calls to other local farms and to visit neighbors.
    “We would go out in the evenings,” Tim said. “Those were the best memories, getting to know other people from other farms.”
    The sons all agreed the evening farm visits exemplified their father’s passion for people and cows.
    “If he didn’t know what was wrong, Dad would say, ‘It’s an infection around the heart,’” said Adrian, laughing. “But in all seriousness, he taught us how to take care of the cows and make sure we’re doing a good job.”
    As the sons have started their own career in dairy farming, Reino has always been present.
    Tim has been dairying on his own for more than 20 years. In that time, Reino has frequented the dairy, helping with tough calvings and simply catching up with what is happening on the farm.
    Since May, when Jamin and Adrian started leasing the family’s 400-cow dairy, Reino has remained active in its daily operations.
    “He’s out here in the barn every day. … He just works hard,” Jamin said. “[Adrian and I] listen to him talk about his mistakes and heed advice, especially as we’ve been switching over the operation.”
    Reino was a partner in the dairy farm with his brothers for more than 45 years.
    While dairy farming has played a large part in the Aho family’s lives, they also enjoy time away from the cows.
    The sons can remember hunting and fishing trips with Reino when chores were complete. They even would partake in gopher trapping.
    One of their fondest memories was the family’s annual fishing trip, where Reino would take his sons to the lake and fish for sunfish.
    “Dad knows how to enjoy life, too,” Adrian said. “You can’t work yourself to death, and you have to learn how to have fun while working.”
    Throughout the year, the Ahos have also enjoyed spending time together at the lake.
    As Tim, Jamin and Adrian raise their children, they can see Reino’s influence in their own roles as fathers.
    “Dad has always had a good relationship with us kids,” Tim said.
    Jamin agreed.
    “I hope we can pass on the same experiences to our kids as we got as kids,” he said. “Dad really taught us how important family is.”
    Reino’s impact as a father and farmer is undeniable. He recently became Grandpa to his 42nd grandchild and is a role model for many dairy farmers, always having optimism for the agriculture industry.
    “He’s been a good dad,” Jamin said. “Dad influenced our entire family and a lot of young dairy farmers in the area.”