Farm Horizons, August 2010
Carver County dairy farmers receive awards, are part of national tour
By Linda Scherer
The Flower-Brook Holsteins farm in Hamburg has been making the news this year, because of owners Andrew (Andy) and Jodene Stuewe’s successful dairy operation and their award-winning Holsteins.
Just this spring, the Stuewes and their two children, Ava and Jayde, were named the 2010 Carver County Farm Family of the Year. Farm families are chosen for making significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities.
But that isn’t the only recognition the family has received this year. In June, the Stuewes were named the premier exhibitor at the Minnesota State Holstein show in Rochester. In addition, their Holstein, Gabrina, was named reserve intermediate champion at the show.
This is the second time the Stuewes have won premier exhibitor at the Minnesota State Holstein Show. They also won it in 2008, and that same year their Holstein, Giddy, was named the 2008 Star of the Breed by the Holstein Association USA. The Star of the Breed Award recognizes the complete Holstein cow an animal that excels in both the show ring and the milking parlor.
And recently, the Stuewes made news once again, when the Flower-Brook Holsteins farm was part of the 2010 National Holstein Convention’s tour June 27. It was the only farm in Carver County to be included on the tour.
An estimated 500 people toured the Stuewe farm, from Australia, Canada, and all across the US, according to Andy, more people than the couple had anticipated. They arrived in four coach buses at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, then another four buses came at 2:30 p.m. In between, there were people who just drove in on their own.
“It was overwhelming,” Jodene said. “Not so much having them here, but all of the preparation before they came. Getting the farm looking nice, and having every animal washed.”
“We tried to have people available in every barn who knew our farm or knew our animals,” Jodene said.
“A lot of the people really liked the cows,” Andy said.
Besides the visitors checking out the buildings and the animals, it would have been impossible for them not to have noticed the farm itself.
Driving up the driveway, the first thing to come into view is a large pond with a water fountain; there are flowers everywhere. The farm is immaculate. Up by the house, there are more flower gardens, a trellis of climbing thick green foliage, and a large vegetable garden.
Andy and Jodene took ownership of the farm in April 2005 from Andy’s parents, David and Joyce, who now live in Waconia.
The couple had a pretty good idea of what kind of work was involved in farming because they had both grown up on Holstein dairy farms.
Jodene remembers those early years growing up on her parents, Mike and Roxanne Piepers’, farm in Carver. There wasn’t time for family vacations, only an occasional night off to maybe stay at a hotel and play in the pool.
“I said I would never marry a dairy farmer, because I knew how much work it is,” Jodene said. “There is little freedom for dairy farming. You have to be there two times a day to milk, and there are chores all day long in between.”
But when Jodene was dairy princess at the Carver County Fair in 1997-98, she met Andy, who was involved with the 4-H and FFA, and he definitely changed her mind.
Today, the Stuewes have 70 registered Holstein cows to be milked every morning and evening, plus another 20 to 30 young stock which need to be fed separately each day.
The Stuewes have a hired man who comes to help with chores for three or four hours every morning, and one of Andy’s brothers comes to help at night for two hours in exchange for leaving some of his animals on the farm.
The family also has help from many family and friends who come at planting time, or when there is hay or silage to make and put up.
The Holsteins are Andy’s favorite part of farming and he admits to getting attached to them.
“He has a lot of time invested in them. Especially his show animals,” Jodene said.
He has been showing Holsteins since he was only 3 years old. Jodene has pictures to prove it. And he does all of the training of the animals for the shows himself.
“I used to go and watch and help out at the shows, but now, with the two kids, I am more of a spectator,” Jodene said.
There are usually four or five shows a year, and Andy often hires someone to help haul the cattle with him, usually a dozen animals, total.
The Stuewes have about 300 acres of rented land that they farm each year. There are 100 acres of alfalfa, which is made and fed to livestock; 125 acres of corn used for high-moisture corn and corn silage, and the remaining 75 acres is in soybeans, which is all sold off the field for profit.
Jodene does most of the work on the gardens, with some occasional help from her mother-in-law. She also works three 12-hour shifts per week as an RN at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia, and cares for the couple’s two daughters.
If there is extra time, she helps with farm chores, but isn’t able to help as much as she once did because of the girls.
The Stuewes are not afraid of hard work. The only thing that might keep them from dairy farming in the future are the milk prices.
“Last year was bad,” Jodene said.
“The last couple of years have been bad,” Andy said. “We are just starting to break even now, but we still have to recover from the last couple years. Milk prices are up a little, but not where they need to be,” Andy said.
“It’s tough,” Jodene said. “I am proud of my husband. The farm is a great place to raise kids and teach them hard work and responsibility, and we hope the dairy industry thrives and milk prices can come up so we can continue to farm.”
More about Holsteins
Holstein dairy cattle dominate the US milk production industry, according to the Holstein Association USA. Nine of every 10 dairy producers currently milk Holsteins.
Top-producing Holsteins milked three times a day, have been known to produce over 72,000 pounds of milk in 365 days.
The reasons for their popularity are unexcelled production, greater income over feed costs, unequaled genetic merit, and adaptability to a wide range of environmental conditions.
Holstein cattle are most quickly recognized by their distinctive color markings. Holsteins are large, stylish animals with color patterns of black and white or red and white.
A healthy Holstein calf weighs 90 pounds and stands 58 inches tall at the shoulder. Holstein heifers can be bred at 13 months of age, when they weigh about 800 pounds. It is desirable to have Holstein females calve for the first time between 23 and 26 months of age. Holstein gestation is approximately nine months.
While some cows may live considerably longer, the average productive life of a Holstein is approximately four years.