Frank Klimek sets the scale on the TMR he uses to mix feed for his milking herd. Klimek’s herd increased milk production by 1,000 pounds when he began using it to mix feed.
PHOTO BY ANDREA BORGERDING
Frank Klimek sets the scale on the TMR he uses to mix feed for his milking herd. Klimek’s herd increased milk production by 1,000 pounds when he began using it to mix feed. PHOTO BY ANDREA BORGERDING
    ALEXANDRIA, Minn. – There is no career Frank Klimek could see himself doing other than dairy farming. He grew up on his family’s 50-cow dairy working alongside his siblings, and so it was a natural progression for him to eventually purchase the farm. His father, Glen, has supported him at every step.
    Klimek milks 50 Holstein and Red and White Holstein cows in a tiestall barn near Alexandria. He also raises corn, alfalfa and wheat or oats on the farm’s 300 acres.
    “Growing up, I always enjoyed doing fieldwork,” Klimek said. “I also like seeing the calves grow and eventually get into the barn to milk. I enjoy seeing how they do as cows.”
    That joy of seeing life progress on the farm is what kept Klimek dairying throughout his life. After high school graduation in 2007, Klimek attended Alexandria Technical College in Alexandria to learn diesel mechanics.
    “I did that so I could use that knowledge on the farm,” Klimek said.
     Klimek stayed living on the farm but also worked as a mechanic in town while attending school. He graduated with a diesel mechanics degree in 2009.
    In 2011, Klimek formed a 25:75 partnership with his father.
    “I took care of 25% of the feed and whatever it took to get 25% of the milk production,” Klimek said.
    The father-son working relationship flourished in the common interest in keeping the family farm going.
    “We always got along,” Klimek said. “We never fought about anything. We had our difference in opinion, but we always figured something out.”
    Klimek credits everything he knows about farming to his dad. Glen began milking in 1977. That year, Glen’s father purchased the farm site and built the current tiestall facility for him to start milking a herd of cows.
    In 2019, Klimek took over the farm as sole operator and continues to make payments on a contract for deed. Klimek feels there is no other way an incoming farmer could start without working with a previous owner.
    “It would have been 42 years of him milking cows,” Klimek said of Glen. “He reluctantly semi-retired last year after he banged up his knee. It forced him to slow down.”
    Until his injury, Glen helped on the farm every day. He is eager to see the farm continue.
    “He didn’t pressure me to take over,” Klimek said. “When the milk price went down, it got hard to have two people in it. That’s when he decided to give up the reins.”
    Klimek has since made a few changes to the dairy, including adding automatic take-offs and a TMR mixer. His goals for the dairy herd include increasing production, improving hoof health, cow comfort and breeding more Red and White genetics.
    To help save on operating costs, Klimek learned to A.I. He also does much of the repair work on machinery and tractors.
    The addition of a TMR increased milk production by 1,000 pounds and also improved the herd’s milk components.
    In the future, Klimek would like to build a calf facility.
    “I’d like to grow the herd but times are a little uncertain right now,” Klimek said.
    Klimek said Glen does not say much when he sees the changes Klimek makes on the farm.
    “He likes seeing the cows still here and knowing he can come help,” Klimek said.
    Despite the uncertainty of the industry, Klimek resolves to continue dairying. His wife, Lindsey, and their four children appreciate life on the farm. Lindsey helps feed calves but also works full time as an instructor at Alexandria Technical College.
    “I have no regrets,” Klimek said. “I’m just hoping I can make it lifetime work. I always wanted to take it over to keep it going. It’s nice to keep it in the family.”
    With help from his dad, Klimek can hopefully keep the farm in the family while continuing the career that has come so naturally for him.