Farm Horizons, August 2010
Milking parlor makes farming easier for LP family
By Starrla Cray
Anyone who’s lived or worked on a dairy operation knows that farming is hard work, but for Rick and Mindy Jeurissen, good equipment and a peaceful living environment have helped make the job a little easier.
The Jeurissens milk about 120 cows three miles south of Lester Prairie, and they are thankful to be in the McLeod County area.
“We love it here,” Rick said. “The kids adapted very well.”
The Jeurissen children include Genna, 14, Grace, 9, and Sam, 5.
Before moving to Lester Prairie in 2009, the family farmed in Shakopee, on the land where Rick grew up.
“We were right up against Mystic Lake Casino,” Mindy said. “It was a busy, busy road.”
Rick and Mindy, who went to high school together in Shakopee, enjoyed being close to home. However, they weren’t fond of the city environment surrounding their property.
“Land was getting eaten up by housing,” Mindy said. “It’s not very agriculture-friendly there.”
“Traffic was pretty difficult to deal with,” Rick added.
When the family started thinking about the long-term future of their dairy operation, a new location was first on the list of needed changes.
“We had looked in Wisconsin at a few places, but it just wasn’t right,” Mindy said.
Thankfully, they soon found the perfect spot, a few miles out of Lester Prairie. The first time the Jeurissens visited, however, Rick wasn’t sure it was the right one, because the barn was too old.
Then, they had the idea of building a new milking facility, which also fit in with the Jeurissen’s long-term plan. By November 2009, the family had moved in, and the cows were enjoying their new parlor.
The parlor can hold 24 cows at a time, and it eliminates the farmer’s need to squat down to put on the milking machines.
“This is helpful on the knees,” Rick said. “We were trying to eliminate some of the physical labor.”
Mindy had back surgery about a year ago, and wasn’t able to milk cows in a traditional tie-stall barn. With the parlor, milking isn’t nearly as physically demanding.
“It’s way less work,” Mindy said.
The Jeurissens even had young nephews and nieces try milking for the first time at their farm.
“If they can reach it, they can milk,” Mindy said.
There are still some safety issues to watch out for, however, she added. People need to be careful not to put their hands underneath the cow’s foot, and they should also be watchful in case the cow tries to kick.
Cows only come into the parlor when it’s time for milking, at about 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“Their home is the free-stall barn,” Rick said.
During the winter months, the parlor can be quite cold, so the Jeurissens rely on a heater to bring the temperature up to 40 or 50 degrees.
“We can’t have water freezing,” Rick explained.
In the future, the Jeurissen family plans to slightly increase the size of their herd, and possibly add more features to their parlor.
“It’s set up to have more technology added to it,” Mindy said.
One device they could get scans each cow’s ear tag as it walks in, which helps to monitor and record temperature, milk production, and other helpful information.
“We’d like to get into that someday, but it’s really expensive,” Mindy said.
For now, the family is happy to be settled in at their new farm.
They had an open house early this summer, and several neighbors came to welcome the Jeurissens, and to tour the new parlor.
“People have been really nice here,” Mindy said. “We were used to the city mentality where everyone does their own thing.”
The Jeurissen children, who go to school in Lester Prairie, are also enjoying the new place.
“I like it better,” Genna said. “It’s more spacious.”
Genna had been involved in 4-H in Scott County, and would like to get involved in McLeod County’s 4-H program next year. After high school, she hopes to go to school for dairy animal nutrition.
Grace is also interested in animals, and would like to become a veterinarian. As for Sam, “as long as he’s moving, he’s happy,” according to Mindy.