Raising a Farmer

Alot of work but always room for laughter

More Minnesota dairy farms fall to the ‘axe’

This Column was originally published in Agweek on January 25 , 2020

I came across a west Asian fable on social media the other day, “The forest was shrinking, but the trees kept voting for the axe. For the axe was clever and convinced the trees that because his handle was wood he was one of them.”

The number of dairy farms exiting the industry is heartbreaking. Many of these farm families are not exiting the industry by their own choosing but by an axe. Many of them are feeling like they are being pushed out.

The feelings of being pushed out not by one but by a number of reasons. According to Minnesota Department of Agriculture, in January 2018 there were 3,076 dairy farms in Minnesota. In January 2020, there are 2,601. There were 475 dairy farms that sold their milk cows, their livelihood, their lifestyle, their everything in a two-year period. Their hard work, their hopes, their faith, the many tears all for nothing: gone.

To break these numbers down, the state of Minnesota has lost an average of 20 dairy farms a month in the last two years. Twenty dairy farms a month left the industry. Twenty families every month made difficult decisions in silence across rural Minnesota. Twenty families a month had to figure out, what now? Twenty farms a month have left in silence, fading into the background. Some of those families needed to move away from the life they were building. Many of them had to walk away with nothing left but guilt, shame and the feelings of letting generations before them down. Many of these families are going over and over in their head, what could they have done differently? Where did they go wrong?

There is nothing they could have done differently. When pay price is $13, $14, $15 per hundredweight and cost of production is $17, $18, $19 per hundredweight, no matter how you do the math, you are always short, no matter what. Within my own home of Morrison County, we had 219 dairy farms only two short years ago. Today there are 177 dairy farms in Morrison County. Almost two farms a month left the dairy industry in Morrison County. Our family farm was one of them for the month of September.

How is the landscape of rural Minnesota going to look in the very near future?

We talk about how we want our rural communities to thrive. I ask, are we doing anything to change it? We talk about mental health and what we need to do once we reach a breaking point, but we don’t talk about what is causing it: The financial burden dairy farms have been in the last five years. We don’t want to talk about where we really are because it is so “Debbie Downer.”

I don’t see the dairy industry “bouncing back.” I see a way of life dying. I see rural communities hurting. I see lost looks on farmers not knowing who they are anymore. I see farmers once proud of the hard work they did and that was enough. Now I see broken and defeated faces.

I wonder what rural Minnesota will look like in the next two years.

Rudolph Dairy 0035

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Quick and Easy Egg Bake

I love breakfast foods.

Anything you would eat for breakfast.

Cold cereal is at the top of my list of breakfast favorites. I’ll even mix cereals in my bowl. Some Cheerios, with a dash of Fruity Pebbles with some wholesome corn flakes. Yum! And of course milk.

One day Everett requested Egg Bake. I didn’t have any milk in the house so I couldn’t make my traditional egg bake with a creamy cheese sauce and it also calls for to set over night.

I looked in the fridge.

Took out some mushrooms, chopped them up. Sauté

Add about a cup of chopped spinach. Sauté with mushrooms. Remove from heat

Whisk about 10 eggs together in a separate bowl.

Add about a cup of shredded cheese

Some Parmesan cheese about 1/4 cup

Add mushroom and spinach mixture

(I would have added onions but sometimes the kids are on the fence lately about onions)

Mixed it all together

Put it in a 11×7 pan or any cake pan about that size. If you use 9×13 your egg bake will be a little more flat. 05FD94A9-C7D4-486C-B884-739A9E35AC48

Sprinkle the top with Croutons (I didn’t have enough to cover the entire dish so just a few worked)

Place in oven at 350° F for about half hour to 45 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!





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Hellbent Bison Ranch

We headed on over to Hellbent Bison Ranch.

We learned all the wonders that are the American Bison.

When I showed the kids the rough cut edit, Everett said, “That was a good day!”

It was a great day!

Thank you to Kris Holmen at Hellbent Bison Ranch for having us!



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New Decade-New do

I had decided the beginning of December I was going to share this expiernce with my kids on New Years Eve. I didn’t tell them what I had planned.

It took them a little bit to get used to the idea I was going to cut my hair. Everett left the bathroom yelling, “I am not going to cut your hair!!” Nate stood in the door way with a sad face.

By the end of the night, all three of them had said they liked my new hair cut.

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Best Meal Ever follows Turkey Bingo in a Church Basement

This Column was originally published in Agweek on November 23, 2019


Thanksgiving can bring many debates about food at the gathering table. Those debates surrounding food can be what foods to phase in or phase out. Mashed potatoes versus baked potatoes. Cranberries fresh or from the can, jellied or berries. (I prefer jellied cranberries and it has to be a certain brand.) Marshmallows on top of the sweet potatoes or no marshmallows. Stuffing or dressing (yes there is a difference between the two.) Bake the turkey or deep fry the turkey. Green bean casserole or no green bean casserole. Oh, the desserts galore.

What time do families gather around the table to eat can be debated in families.

There is one thing for sure that isn’t debated about food is what meal is the best on the planet. This particular meal is only delicious in a church basement or fellowship hall. This simple meal is a sandwich with lunch meat and butter, a pickle on the side, a dessert bar, with milk or watered-down Kool-Aid and, of course, coffee. This meal is always served after turkey bingo at a church.

The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving parishes around Central Minnesota are offering your chance to win a turkey for Thanksgiving. Twenty games and each game wins a turkey.

I love bingo. I especially love turkey bingo. I always smile when someone yells “Bingo” because the crowd groans and moans and carries on how they didn’t win. This is the only game where your disappointment is greatly shown of not winning while the winner smiles all the way to “That’s a good Bingo.”

You can feel in the air during a bingo game when someone will yell “Bingo” soon. The bingo players begin to become silent. All you can hear is the tumble of Bingo balls waiting to be called. You can hear each Bingo card close the plastic window hoping to win a turkey for Thanksgiving. The watchful eyes of moms making sure their children didn’t miss a number called.

With the excitement building, wondering who will yell, “Bingo!” When someone yells “Bingo,” the instant moan of not winning fills the room. The hum of players shuffling in their chair explaining to the person next to them how close they were fills the air. Each player saying how many times they were one number away. Some players begin to rise from their chairs to change out their Bingo card in hopes of a better card before the next game begins.

After all the games are played and no more turkeys to be won. The group waits for the best meal on earth. A sandwich, a pickle, and a bar.

I have often wondered how this simple meal tastes so good in a church basement. When I make this meal at home, it isn’t considered a meal; it is at times considered a disappointment.

So why is it so delicious in a church basement? It is because of the fellowship we share with others. It is the time and smiles we share with others that make the moments and food delicious. Not the food.





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Top 5 Blog posts for 2019

2019 is coming to an end. I am looking forward to a New Year.

Below are the top 5 blog posts for 2019 on Raising a Farmer. This last year has left us with many new challenges but as I look back some pretty great things also happened in between our struggles.

#5 Hungarian Soup 

#4 Morrison County Milk Project Week 1 

#3 Raising a Farmer Podcast 

#2 Morrison County Milk Project Week 2 

#1 Blog post for 2019, Saying Goodbye to Lady Wilt 


Morrison County Milk Project 2019


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What does Advent mean to me

As I share this with you I type with one hand. Vivian is snuggling with me in the chair as I wrap my other arm around her. The earth is white. The sky begins to glow a light blue as rain and snow falls from the sky. This afternoon I will gather with family to celebrate Christmas. Five years ago I sat in this same chair snuggling my newborn. Listening to every breathe she took. Every noise she created. Our heartbeats were one. Every breathe I took, I could smell her newness. Now as I sit with her, I can smell traces of Play dough on her hands.

We didn’t celebrate Christmas the year Vivian was born with gatherings and celebrations. We didn’t even make it to church that year. We celebrated quietly in our home. Thankful we were a family of four.

Below are the links for my  two part meaning of Advent for Catholic Rural Life 

The Meaning of Advent (Part 1)

The Meaning of Advent (Part 2)


Vivian in December 2014 in my arms 


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Holiday Baking Videos

My favorite cooking video.

Vivian with the flour.

She was so tiny.

Everett had short hair.

I wish I could report Vivian stays off the counter.


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Popcorn Stuffing

We tried a new recipe.

At first I thought it was a joke recipe I found in one of my mom’s old cookbooks. My uncle thought it could most defiantly work.

So we had to try to see if it would work to stuff a bird with popcorn and see if it would pop.

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Pumpkin Roll

My favorite Thanksgiving dessert is a pumpkin roll.

A couple years ago the kids and I shared how to make one.

I would be kicked off of Holiday Baking Championship. Flavor would have to carry me through.

As I watch this I see how I let my kids cook with me. We taste, we make a mess and we smile. This isn’t staged or pretend. This is how I am with my kids. I am not perfect. When I watch this I think of my first  year in college when I stayed with my aunt and uncle. My aunt made a pumpkin roll about every week that fall until she had it perfected.

I watch this, I see Vivian’s bangs or there lack of is a better description. She had cut them so short she didn’t need a bang trip until June. I watch this and I see the same mannerisms Everett has today as he did then two years ago.

I watch this and I am reminded how much I enjoy my time with my kids in the kitchen.

Happy baking!


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