Generations working together

Golombieckis named farm family of the year for Stevens County

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CHOKIO, Minn. — Not far from the town of Chokio, four generations can be found working together to operate Golombiecki Family Farms LLC. Their hard work was rewarded  when they were named the Stevens County Farm Family of the Year.

“When I first read the letter (announcing the selection), I was thinking, ‘There is no way we got it; there are other families who do way more in the county,’” Elizabeth Golombiecki said. “I was pretty surprised that we got it.” 

Golombiecki and her brother, Lester, run the dairy side of the farm, milking 50 cows in a double-8 parlor which was installed by their late father, Ron, in 2016. 

On their uncle Dennis’ site down the road stand the bins for the family’s grain storage. Dennis’ son, Brian, who is in the process of building a new feed lot, houses all of the bull calves born on the farm and has a beef herd. 

Brian’s son, Tony, and his wife, Abbie, and their children, Peter and Emma, live within the area as well. While everyone has specific responsibilities within the farming operations, all of the families pull together when it comes to harvesting and other fieldwork.

Getting to watch her young cousins take interest in the farm is one of the many things that Golombiecki said is a favorite part of her job.

“Peter and Emma have been great buddy-seat riders this year,” Golombiecki said.

Sharing the farm with the younger generation, whether family or not, is a highlight of Golombiecki’s. 

One way the family gets children involved in the dairy industry is by hosting a Dairy Day Care Day in June where the Golombieckis bring a calf and feed to a local park to meet with the day care children. There, children can pet a calf, learn what a cow eats, play with the feed and then make ice cream. In the future, the family hopes to have the children come to the farm.

Golombiecki and Lester are also involved in the Dairy Farmers of America Young Cooperator program, and Golombiecki and Abbie are a part of the Chokio Community Club where they help organize community activities while trying to incorporate the dairy industry.

“Through being a dairy farmer on the board (of the community club), I learned that an event (in town) used to be called Dairy Days,” Golombiecki said. “I am trying to think of ways we can bring dairy back into (events) more.”

Because of their passion for dairy, the Golombieckis donate dairy products to their local food shelf every month, not only to help people in need but also to support dairy farmers. The family donates anything from yogurt and sour cream to cheese and cottage cheese, and there is always 10 gallons of milk included.

“Being able to ensure families are going home with milk is huge for us, and I’m glad we get to work with (the organization),” Golombiecki said. “It’s also a cool way to make connections with the college students who volunteer there.”

Another community project Golombiecki was involved in was the All You Can Drink Milk Stand that the county 4-H organization manages at the Stevens County Fair. Farmers donate the milk so that all the money made on wristbands goes to 4-H. Golombiecki and her brother joined 4-H when they were young and showed cattle, which also led their parents to lease cattle so that others could start showing as well.

“We love being around the cows, and I love that I got to grow up right alongside my parents,” Golombiecki said. “I’d get off the bus and go run into the barn, and I always knew they were both there.”

Along with fond childhood memories, Golombiecki said she enjoys working with her family now and setting her own schedule for the day — if everything goes according to plan. 

Golombiecki said there are no dairy farms that are the same. 

“A neighbor said that they wished there was a cookie cutter for what makes a farm succeed, but there are so many different ways, which is part of the excitement,” Golombiecki said. “We don’t have to look the same as the neighbor for it to work.”

Golombiecki said their family is grateful to have more acres than what they need to feed their animals.

“Being able to grow our own feed really saved our dairy,” Golombiecki said. “Having extra land also gives us the potential to grow without worrying about where our feed will come from.”

While the family hopes to expand their dairy, they know that getting bigger is not necessarily the way to become more profitable. They want to do so, Golombiecki said, because dairy farming is what they love. The dream of what the farm will look like in the future is constantly changing, but having dairy cattle is always a part of that image, even though the dairy industry is filled with challenges.

“It’s worth it,” Golombiecki said. “I look forward to having my own kids on the farm.”

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