Farm Horizons, May 2006

Not farming anymore, and missing it

By Roz Kohls

Belinda Storms of Cologne doesn’t farm anymore and sometimes she misses it.

Storms was especially nostalgic about chopping in the fall. “You’d see the deer running in the field,” she said.

Storms and her husband, Randy, operated a 144-acre dairy and crop farm along Market Avenue south of Cologne. They milked 60 to 80 cows and grew corn, beans, alfalfa and oats, she said.

In 2001, they sold the cows. “Three years before that we didn’t run the land anymore,” Storms said.

Storms works full time as office manager now at Mid County Co-op in Cologne. It’s part convenience store, tire shop and provides bulk fuel and agronomy, she said.

“I get to talk to farmers,” Storm said, so it makes her feel she is keeping a hand in farming.

Still, Storms recalled a poignant moment, though, when a black cow, 99, “went on the truck. She was really nice,” Storms said.

“Oh, I miss milking cows too. I can’t believe I’d say that,” she added.

The Storms still live on the family site that is nearly 100 years old, but now have chickens, a few goats and steers. Their oldest son, Jacob, is attending Hennepin Technical College, and the two younger sons attend Central High School in Norwood Young America. None of them is interested in farming as their parents were, Storms said.

They needed to have the 90-year-old barn remodeled. It would have taken so much to upgrade it that it wasn’t worth continuing, she said.

“I did a little bit of everything,” Storms said. “It was just the two of us.”

Not only did Storms milk cows, she fed the calves, drove the tractor, chopped and hauled loads.

“I do miss the tractor driving,” Storms said.

When the boys were little, she’d hold one with one arm, and steer the tractor with the other arm. The boys grew tired of sitting in the tractor long hours, so when they got older, they left Storms alone whenever it was time to drive it. The peace and quiet alone in the tractor provided her with a refreshing break, she said.

Storms also liked milking the cows because she and her husband worked together. Also, some of the cows had personalities. The Storms didn’t call all of their cows by numbers. They had Long Shoes, Hoppy, Sausage, Cookie and a bull named Lucky. The cantankerous cows didn’t have such nice names, though, she laughed.

The boys rode their bikes completely around the barn while their parents were inside milking or they played with the calves. When they got older, the boys helped mix up feed and other chores. “They all had their jobs,” Storms said.

When the oldest son was tall enough to reach the pipeline, he helped milk, she added.

Having the boys in the barn when they were children wasn’t always easy. Storms always looked forward to when they were “gutter-trained,” meaning old enough not to fall in the gutter full of manure. “They’ve all fallen in there several times,” Storms laughed.

She’d have to stop work, change their clothes and clean them up, she said.

Storms listed a few things she doesn’t miss. Thunderstorms rolled in during milking time and knocked out the electricity, for example. All the milkers lost power and fell off the cows’ udders. Milk flew out of the glass jars that were part of the automatic milk system when the jars lost pressure, Storms said.

When the barn cleaner chain broke, it was disagreeable to have to shovel out the mess themselves, she added.

Financing fertilizer, feed and veterinary services was challenging also. “Things are tight,” Storms said.

Despite the disadvantages, having the opportunity to work with her husband, and not having to wait until evening to discuss the day’s events, was the best part of farming, she said.

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