A day in the life of the Duskes

Family has a productive spring day

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WAVERLY, Minn. — Three generations of the Duske family worked together to face the challenge of a busy day of spring fieldwork and farm chores May 13 near Waverly.

Garret Duske was joined by his dad, Cliff Duske, uncle, Keith Duske, and cousin, Nathaniel Farber, on the beautiful 75-degree day.

“Family, I can trust, and they know what I expect out of them,” Garret Duske said. “It’s fun to work with family. You are not guaranteed tomorrow, so you just enjoy the day with them.

Duske and his wife, Amber, have four children, Emmit, Hazel, Colton and Charlotte. The family milks 96 cows on the farm that was started by Duske’s grandfather, Herb, in the 1930s.

Cliff and Keith took ownership in 1970. Duske started taking over the farm from his dad and uncle in 2005.

The Duskes raise bull calves to 400 pounds and farm close to 500 acres.

“My passion is to be hands on with the animals and stuff on the farm,” Duske said. “I like being there. We have been blessed in more ways than I can imagine with what we have.”

The day’s plan May 13 was orchestrated by Duske while doing the morning milking.

“Either the night before or during the morning milking, I am already planning out my day and what I should try to get done,” Duske said. “I usually finalize it when I am milking in the morning.”

Shortly after milking was complete, Duske mixed feed while Keith, Emmit and Farber arrived.

Keith cleaned the barn and then started his day in the field, which included spraying pre-emergent herbicides on soybeans. Farber fed calves and then worked with Emmit to feed the total mixed ration to the cows.

Emmit, a freshman at Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted High School, took the day off from school to plant corn and soybeans.

Emmit has taken on a greater role with fieldwork since Cliff broke five toes in a farm accident. Emmit cleaned up the 12-row planter and then filled the seed boxes with his dad.

When the father-son team added liquid fertilizer, they faced the first adversity of the day. The hose broke on the fertilizer tank, and fertilizer sprayed on Duske’s arms and legs.

“That was a sticky mess,” Duske said.

Once the hose was mended, they finished filling the planter. Emmit went to the field to begin planting, and Duske went home to take a shower.

“I’d rather let everybody else drive the tractors while I stay on the farm because I know what has to be done there,” Duske said.

Farber, a college student at Southwest Minnesota State University, helps full time during the summer and part time during the school year. He helped finish calf chores before cleaning off and greasing the cultivator.

Cliff arrived around 10:30 a.m., and he and Farber sharpened the blades on the lawn mower before Cliff mowed lawn.

Once the tractors were humming in the field, Duske and Farber grabbed their lunch, loaded the skid loader and went to cut trees and move branches off the edges of a field several miles from the farm. Duske said last year’s harvest was diminished because of the trees.

By 3 p.m., Duske and Farber were home, and they started working on evening chores.

Once Hazel, Colton and Charlotte got off the bus, they walked across a 10-acre field to the farm with Amber to help with evening chores.

Farber fed cows and heifers and got ready to start milking.

Amber helped bring in fresh cows and helped Farber and Duske milk in the L-shaped barn. Duske has modified the barn with tunnel ventilation, new mats and larger stalls.

“That paid for itself in one year and makes us a lot of money every year,” Duske said. “I sell 20-30 heifers because I don’t need them.”

Charlotte helped care for chickens and calves, and Hazel helped milk and did chicken chores.

By 6 p.m., the busyness of the day was over.

Emmit finished planting 70 acres of corn and 20 acres of soybeans. Keith sprayed close to 120 acres of soybeans.

“It’s a regular, productive day,” Duske said. “From last Friday to Monday, we’ve had a lot of productive days. It was nice to keep moving without any major breakdowns.”

By late afternoon, plans switched to off-farm activities. Keith had a track meet to attend, Emmit went fishing, and Duske, Amber, Hazel, Colton and Charlotte went home for supper.

“I try to get started earlier in the morning so people can have their afternoons,” Duske said. “It works pretty good.”

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