A career 7 decades in the making

Seibert continues to farm at 92 years old

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SEBEKA, Minn. — Clyde Seibert might not get on the tractor as quickly as he used to, but the fact that he does get on it is simply remarkable.

Clyde, 92, is a mainstay in the field helping his son, Ray, and granddaughter, Allyson, on their 80-cow dairy farm in Wadena County near Sebeka.

“I just like to keep busy,” Clyde said. “I do whatever has to be done.”

Clyde has been helping his family with fieldwork since he stopped milking cows in 1990. 

When the fields are dry in the spring, Clyde works them in preparation for planting. During the summer, it is common to find Clyde in a tractor for up to 10 hours cutting or harvesting hay. In the fall, he is chopping corn, doing tillage and chopping cornstalks, among other duties.

“I’ve done most of the tractor driving this year,” Clyde said. “It gives me something to do.”

Ray said his father finds enjoyment in getting the work done.

“He helps because there’s something to do, and he can help,” Ray said. “It’s just the feeling of a job well done. God knows it’s not for the money. He has always wanted to stay busy rather than sit still.”

When Clyde exited the Air Force in 1956, he knew farming was going to be his career choice. He did not want to work for anyone else and bought his own dairy farm.

During Clyde’s early days of farming, he farmed a modest 40 acres with a John Deere Model B and a two-bottom plow. Of the family’s land, 100 acres had to be cleared. Clyde sold the trees for pulpwood or logs.

Clyde said he considered the John Deere Model B to be advanced at the time because it had a trip bucket loader to clean the barn.

“I had a 5-foot tandem disc,” Clyde said. “Now, we go out there with 30- to 40-foot implements. That’s the part where there has been so much change. It’s always been enjoyable sitting out there getting something done.”

Clyde said he distinctly remembers his first tractor upgrade, one that helped with the weather challenges he faced in northern Minnesota.

“In 1975, I bought a Leyland, a British tractor; that was the first cab tractor on the farm,” Clyde said.  

This fall, while operating equipment, Clyde had more amenities at his disposal, including a radio and the comforts of a heater and air conditioner. 

Watching technology improvements across all machinery is something Clyde said he has marveled at. 

“When I was in high school, I plowed with a team of horses,” Clyde said. “Now I sit out there and it’s hard to believe. I’ve been through quite a bit. It’s mind-boggling to me.”

Clyde also recalls the long days of cutting hay with a sickle mower and filling the silo with a single-row chopper.

A chopper was added to the farm in 1960, which Clyde purchased with two of his neighbors.

“When I started, we only chopped enough to fill one silo,” Clyde said.

Fieldwork continues to ignite Clyde’s senses whether it is the smell of freshly turned soil and new-cut hay or seeing a seed turn into a 12-foot high corn plant.

Clyde has also had a front-row seat to unique experiences.

 A couple years ago, Clyde said bear cubs were playing in one of their fields, and more recently, a fall harvest day provided a picturesque memory. 

“At 6 o’clock (one night), the moon was coming up over the trees,” Clyde said. “It was beautiful.”

Oddly enough, the view he remembers was in the field that Clyde had one of his biggest health scares. 

“I had a heart attack while I was in the field,” Clyde said. “I had to get a stint put in.”

Clyde’s recovery time was short. A few days later, Ray said, his dad was in a tractor. 

Clyde also had to overcome broken ribs, but 10 days later, he found comfort in a tractor seat.

Although his strength and speed are slowly deteriorating, Clyde has not let it prevent him from coming to the farm and helping with other jobs when fieldwork is not being done. 

“When Dad comes over, if there is a pile of wood at the end of the driveway, he always stops and makes firewood for us,” Ray said.

Clyde also drives to get parts for the farm and makes firewood for his own home.

Living a long life may run in the family for Clyde. His three siblings are 87 years old or more, but his wife and his siblings’ spouses are no longer living. 

Clyde’s age has not stopped him from taking in experiences away from the farm. In September, Clyde, with one of his nephews, rode in a race car. 

“That was the highlight of Dad’s summer,” Ray said.

Looking back, Clyde said he feels blessed to have spent so much time working the land and being a farmer.

“It’s just natural that I can do it,” Clyde said. “I’m fortunate that I am able to do it.”

Mark Klaphake contributed to this article.

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