Farming with YouTube

Klejeskis document life on their dairy

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    STURGEON LAKE, Minn. – When Alan Klejeski started milking cows in 2006, the thought of sharing their life online was not even a consideration. Now, the Klejeskis upload multiple videos per week to show their day-to-day life on Trinity Dairy.
    Alan and Jennifer Klejeski milk 30 cows and farm 310 acres near Sturgeon Lake with their five children. They started their YouTube channel, Trinity Dairy, Jan. 4, 2020.
    “We are the epitome of a family farm; every cow has a name, the kids are running around, and everyone helps,” Jennifer said. “I think our viewers really connected with that.”
    A unique aspect of Trinity Dairy is their utilization of older farm equipment and their variety of dairy breeds.
     Alan went to school for automotive mechanics before starting the dairy on his grandfather’s farm. His background in mechanics allows the Klejeskis to utilize older equipment on their farm, because that equipment is also what Alan grew up using.
    “We will get comments on our videos from younger kids and farmers asking where our GPS is for planting the fields,” Alan said. “I sometimes forget that many of the young farm kids grew up with brand new equipment.”
    Jennifer said they share every aspect of the farm, from tractor problems to cows having a difficult time calving.
    “Our channel has allowed us to become more personable with our audience,” she said.
    The Klejeski family’s growing presence on YouTube has put them in the limelight and brought the battle of misinformation and activist groups to their attention.
    “We had a viewer comment to us that he just saw a clip of us in an animal rights activist video,” Jennifer said. “I started panicking a little, because the video we put out on artificial insemination explained in detail that it wasn’t a harmful practice and that we do it to benefit the herd.”
    Alan agreed.
    “That instance brought to our attention that it’s better for us to tell our own story rather than someone else, because chances are they won’t tell it right,” he said.
    The channel started as a way for the Klejeskis to address common myths about the dairy community, and after a shout out from another YouTube channel, their following grew and grew some more.
    The Trinity Dairy channel has more than 18,000 subscribers and more than 4.5 million views. The channel has also created a second source of income on the farm which has brought Jennifer back home to work as the video editor and teacher for the kids.
    “With the milk price where it was when we started the channel, I was working off the farm,” she said. “I would come home to milk and catch up with what the kids were doing on top of editing videos. Once we started getting a monthly check from the channel, it became a second income, and I was able to come back to the farm.”
    The Klejeskis are grateful for the opportunity their videos have given them to get the kids involved on the farm and for both Jennifer and Alan to watch them grow up on the farm.
    One of the videos that received attention was Alan’s father, Leonard’s, draft horses. Something Leonard mentioned when the channel was first starting was how much he would like to stay out of the camera. After hearing how much interest the farm had, they convinced him to do a video with his horses, which received more than 640,000 views.
    The camera has become a part of each family member’s life, and even the kids will walk by and make a funny face during filming.
    “It has now become a thing when the kids are farming with their toys, they pretend to have video cameras in their hands,” Jennifer said.
    The name Trinity Dairy has brought up many questions from the channel’s viewers. Alan said the explanation of the matter is rather simple.
    “In a sense of the word, we are paying homage to the many blessings we have had and prayers we have had answered on our farm,” Alan said. “We end every video saying, ‘Thank you for watching and God bless.’”
    Jennifer agreed.
    “We used to be NorthStar Dairy, but when we started registering some of our cows, that prefix was already taken,” she said. “So, after pondering many options for names, we agreed that we need to pay tribute to our faith and how much we rely on God’s blessings.”
    The channel has helped more than just the Klejeskis. One instance gave them affirmation to continue the filming.
    “We were contacted by a viewer who had been a New York City first responder for many years,” Jennifer said. “He explained that he has post-traumatic stress disorder, and when he has attacks, he watches our videos to calm himself down. He had grown up on a family farm just like ours.”
    This platform has given the Klejeskis a community of people to call friends. Alan can often be found talking on the phone with people who have become acquaintances because of the channel.
    “People are following along with our farm, watching it grow and improve,” Alan said. “More people need to share their farm stories.”
    Jennifer agreed.
    “We can’t assume people know what we are doing on the farm, and we need to be more transparent with people to build trust,” she said. 

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