Safety first when using ATVs

All-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are a useful tool for all sorts of work on the farm.
At the Carlson farm west of Pipestone, Jared Carlson and his father, Randy Carlson, use ATVs to check on livestock in the pastures and fields, survey their crops and fence lines, spot-spray for weeds and more. The family grows corn, soybeans, alfalfa and wheat on about 1,500 acres, has two hog barns with around 5,000 hogs, and a cow-calf operation with 50 cows.
Jared Carlson said the family has used ATVs for as long as he can remember because they are a convenient and quick way to get around.
“It saves us a lot of time,” he said.
The Carlsons said their family has never experienced any accidents or injuries while using an ATV.
“You’ve just got to use common sense,” Randy said. “Don’t drive too fast and don’t turn too fast. That’s where you tip over with them.”
As is the case with any piece of equipment, ATVs can cause injuries or even death.
According to records from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), there have been 148 ATV accidents in the state to date in 2019 resulting in nine fatalities, 153 injuries and 16 instances of property damage. In each of the last two years there have been over 20 ATV-related fatalities by year’s end.
Jennifer Mueller, southwest regional training officer with the DNR, teaches the DNR’s volunteer trainers who provide ATV safety instruction throughout the state. She said ATVs are “handy tools” on the farm and, like Randy Carlson, she said safety is all about how the machines are used.
“If you ride it safely and slowly they can be safe, she said.”
 Mueller said the vast majority of ATV accidents happen on private property and one of the most common is a rollover, often caused by high speed.
“Speed always seems to be a factor,” Mueller said. “Or they hit a fixed object.”
Another common problem is that riders use ATVs that are too powerful for them. Mueller said ATVs come in a wide variety of sizes and that even her 4-year-old had one that fit him.
Even if the ATV is the right size, however, Mueller said it’s important that riders know how to use the machines appropriately and follow local regulations. She suggests checking with local city and county governments to learn about the local regulations. She said riders should also check the state’s off-highway vehicle (OHV) regulations. ATV regulations in Minnesota vary by age, where the machine is used and how big it is, and are available at
The basics include that anyone under 18 is required to wear an approved helmet while operating or riding an ATV on public land. While it isn’t required, Mueller recommends that all users wear a helmet and safety gear.
In addition, anyone born after July 1, 1987 must have a valid ATV safety certificate showing they’ve completed the DNR’s safety course to operate an ATV on public land. A certificate is not needed to operate an ATV on private land as long as the ATV is 50 inches wide or less, but Mueller said it’s still a good idea to take the training.
“We recommend that course for anyone who uses an ATV or OHV (off-highway vehicle),” she said.
For children ages 10-to-15, the safety training course includes an online portion at, which Mueller said is “quite extensive” and takes about eight hours, and a hands-on portion that can be completed in a single day. The hands-on portion includes sections on basic ATV operation, protecting the environment, common ATV parts and controls, Minnesota rules and laws, responsible ATV riding skills for trail riding, and skills practice on an ATV course. Those 16-and-older are not required to attend the hands-on class.
The DNR also offers a free ATV study guide course about basic safety for children ages 6-to-9. That study guide as well as links to sign up for the online and hands-on courses, as well as a list of upcoming hands-on course locations are available at
There are currently no ATV courses scheduled in southwest Minnesota, but Mueller said the DNR does offer them on a regular basis in Marshall, Worthington and Pipestone. A greater number of the courses are available in the spring.

CBD: A new product from an ancient crop
Product allowed by farm bill may improve farmer safety

A new retail product offering made possible by the 2018 farm bill may actually benefit farmers during the upcoming harvest season.
The 2018 farm bill paved the way for cannabidiol products to be legally sold in Minnesota and Jen and Jesse Hendrickson of Village Green Florist and Greenhouse in Lakefield have taken advantage of the change. Village Green is now a retail outlet for CBD products.
Cannabidiol products are derived from industrial hemp, one of the oldest crops on the planet. The products are free of tetrahydrocannabinol, or, THC, the chemical responsible for much of marijuana’s physical effects.
“There is no intoxication from using it or the products made from it,” Jesse Hendrickson said of the cannabidiol products Village Green sells. “People get no high from this product. It is not marijuana.”
The Hendricksons said a lot of CBD is imported from other parts of the world, but the products they are selling in Lakefield are grown in North Carolina.
“We chose cbdMD because the products they have are 100 percent U.S.A. grown,” Jesse Hendrickson said of the company with which they are partnering. “Cannabidiol has different delivery methods. The plant is refined similar to soybean oil, so what you get is pure cannabidiol oil.”
Consumers using the product typically put the oil under their tongues — but just a drop or two from a dropper.
When the Hendricksons started hearing about the benefits of cannabidiol a year ago, they further investigated it for themselves.
“Local farmers have planted the plant,” Jesse Hendrickson said. “I understand there are 300 to 400 acres of hemp planted within a few counties from here.”
So the Hendricksons looked for an answer to the question, “What can we do to be a part of this?”
And they determined for them the easiest answer was to put the end product in their store, offering it for sale along with all their other plants, plant-related products and flowers.
It was the health benefits associated with the product that really motivated the Hendricksons to go ahead and make it available to their customers.
“Anyone can benefit from CBD,” Jen Hendrickson said. “It is not a one-symptom reliever either. It helps people sleep better, relieves anxiety, headaches, helps the digestive system, inflammation, arthritis and muscle pain and it has been shown to help diminish brain damage. Athletes commonly use it as a dietary supplement.”
“It is recommended for adults only and is not sold to children,” Jesse Hendrickson said. “It is up to parents to determine if their children will benefit from using CBD.”
Once the CBD oil is placed under the tongue, the body quickly absorbs it into the circulatory system and it then helps relieve whatever symptoms a person may be experiencing, Jen Hendrickson said.
“Farmers and others involved in physical labor, such as construction or factory workers, find it helps them sleep better at night,” Jesse Hendrickson said. “Others take it in the morning to help relieve their aching muscles as they start their day, while others take it to help reduce their stress during the day.”
“In stressful times, like the upcoming harvest season, farmers can use CBD to calm them down in those anxious times,” Jen Hendrickson added. “It not only helps them sleep better, settling their brain down better at night, but it also helps with all the aches and pains of riding in a truck, tractor or combine for long periods of time.”
The Hendricksons have limited their stock to the small 30-milliliter bottles that come with droppers as that is the typical-size CBD bottle sold. But they also offer it in a variety of flavors, such as orange, mint, berry and the original unflavored variety, which has a taste somewhat similar to soybean oil, Jesse Hendrickson said.
Beyond that, the Hendricksons at Village Green have a stock of CBD products in other forms, from cbdMD in lotion form, which is simply rubbed on the body; a topical roller in liquid form called CBD Freeze, which is especially good for sore back muscles and provides a cooling feel to the body; CBD gummies, similar to the gummy vitamins that come in a bottle and in a variety of flavors; and straight capsule form people just take with a glass of water like a person might take a regular vitamin.
“We have been using CBD oil ourselves under our tongues and have both slept well,” Jesse Hendrickson said. “I have felt like I have slept two nights in a row I feel so rested at times. We also sell CBD bath bombs in a variety of fragrances.”
And not forgetting the family pet, the Hendricksons have CBD pet treats.
“They relax a pet too,” Jen Hendrickson said. “But our customers for CBD are really anyone with chronic pain, stress or anxiety issues, are suffering from lack of sleep or have digestive issues.”

Saddling up in the southwest

On Saturday Aug. 3, horse riders from near and far gathered at the horse arena at the Pipestone County Fairgrounds for the annual Pipestone County Fair Ranch Rodeo. The event kicked off with spectators standing with hands over heart, listening to “Ragged Old Flag” by Johnny Cash as the nation’s colors were carried by an entourage of riders and horses around the arena.
The rodeo is one of several in southwest Minnesota that is put on by Birch Coulee Arena in Morton.
Tim Hennen, a rodeo organizer and the owner of Birch Coulee Arena, said that they have been putting on ranch rodeos for around 20 years.
“I believe we have been doing the Pipestone rodeo for around 10 years,” Hennen said.
Twenty-five teams of four showed up to compete in Pipestone, he said. The cost for team entry at a County Fair Ranch Rodeo is $140, with around half of the fee going to the top performing team.
“We pay out a minimum of three placing teams — more depending on how many have registered and competed,” Hennen said.
In a ranch rodeo, everything is timed. There is no bucking stock. Every event is done with cattle that are numbered and everyone rides their own horse in teams of four or five depending on the rodeo, Hennen said. The name “Ranch Rodeo” represents the type of work participants do while competing.
“It simulates the kind of work that is done on a ranch,” Hennen said. “We usually have four events: doctoring, penning, trailer loading and sorting.”
In the doctoring event, a number is called out and a team member must rope the calf either by the head or feet to immobilize it long enough for another team member to run out and “doctor” it by slapping shaving cream on its side before running back to a designated area.
 In penning, three numbers are called out and the team has to sort them out from the herd of calves and get them into a pen.
For trailer loading, a team needs to sort out two calves with the same number from the herd, load them into a trailer, shut the middle gate of the trailer, load one horse into the back of the trailer, then shut that gate, run to the front of the pickup and touch it to end the time. Everyone on the team that is not on horseback must be at the front of the truck for the time clock to stop.
In the sorting event, a number is called and calves are sorted sequentially across a time line.
“The highest scoring team overall receives a buckle for each team member,” Hennen said. “They ride for money too.”
Participants also gave other reasons for returning to the Pipestone ranch rodeo every year.
Travis Holck, a rural Ruthton native who now lives near Mankato, said that the Pipestone event is one of his “hometown rodeos.”
“I like coming to Pipestone because I get to come home and see a lot of people that I grew up with,” Holck said.
Alan Jones of rural Pipestone said he comes for his favorite event, doctoring.
“I like to rope,” Jones said. “I don’t always catch anything but I always have fun.”
Jones, who with his wife works with 4-H kids at their ranch, teaching them riding safety and a variety of other skills, said that if people want to learn to rope, ride or work with cattle they should give it a try.
“It takes a good horse, but it’s pretty fun,” Jones said.
Lane Hacker, a rider from Brownton, said he comes to Pipestone to ride, compete and enjoy the atmosphere.
“It draws a big crowd,” Hacker said. “Its a big arena in a nice town that draws a lot of competition.”
Hacker said that he enjoys seeing the smile on people’s faces when they watch the rodeo, and hearing cheering from the crowd.
“Its a confidence booster when you catch one and you hear the crowd getting excited,” Hacker said.


The Horse Connection: Tanner Marie Christoffers has formed a bond with her horses that she said cannot be broke

Tanner Marie Christoffers began riding horses when she was 8 years of age.
Five years later, she was named Junior Miss Rodeo Minnesota. And just last month, the 14-year-old received the prestigious overall high-point horse award at the 151st Jackson County Fair in Jackson.
Christoffers decided at age 8 she’d like to try her hand at riding horses. She enrolled in a 4-H horse clinic and instantly knew she wanted to learn more. Her parents agreed, and got a horse for her and her brothers, Preston and Walker, to share; the horse quickly became Tanner’s own.
She started taking lessons, joined 4-H and worked with her horse every day. Now she has five.
“Roxie” was her first horse. “Tarzan,” who is 19, is the horse upon which Christoffers learned almost everything she knows; he’s basically retired now. “Zorro,” a yearling, is in training. “Moe” is her main horse, and the one she planned to ride at the recent Jackson County Fair before he tore a muscle; he’s in healing at present. And then there’s “Profit,” who Christoffers uses for barrel racing, poles, her 4-H events, rodeo events and goat tying training, as well as her latest endeavor — mounted shooting.
Christoffers said the horse community is basically a big family. When she started riding, she had different groups of people take her under their wings and show her the way. The Holthe family of Jackson County was one.
Christoffers said when she started with horses, she was scared and intimidated, but members of the Holthe family came along and helped her out, literally leading her into the ring and guiding her along the way. She even rode one of their horses this year at the fair when her horse was injured, and still won the overall high-point award for scoring the most points on a single horse.
Christoffers also works a lot with Shelly Hotzler of rural Jackson, who has an indoor horse facility at her home that allows her to ride in the winter.
Christoffers’ mom, Stacey, said she is proud of how hard her daughter works and how far she has come.
“Tanner does everything for her horses,” Stacey Christoffers said. “She cleans up after them, she feeds them, she knows when we need to order more food for them, she gets them on the trailer when we go to shows, she sets up the trailer — she literally does everything.”
Christoffers herself shies away from compliments and praise, yet remains confident in her abilities.
“I’m not very coordinated on my own two feet,” she said, “but I can do anything on a horse.”
Her mom also points out that while most horse-related events are competitions, her daughter cheers on her competitors, and even won a Courage, Character and Community Award at a show earlier this year because of her positive and helpful attitude.
While being away from home a lot for different shows is tough sometimes, family members work hard to stick together. Her brothers attend as many of her shows as possible. Her dad, Adam, is also supportive, as are her grandparents.
Christoffers gives her family a great deal of credit for her success. Her main support, though, she said comes from God. In fact, she said she is confident He will lead her exactly where she needs to be.
“The Lord will put me where He needs me,” she said. “I don’t worry if I lose a contest, or don’t earn a certain trip; it just means that God wants me somewhere else.”
Christoffers encourages parents to get their children involved with horses. Horses have taught her responsibilities and boosted her self-confidence. Working with horses has a way of teaching someone so much, Christoffers said, but also provides a connection between the person and the horse, which she said is a bond that cannot be broken.
Web myn jim veldkamp

Conservation has long been a part of Veldkamp Farms

Jim Veldkamp is the reigning Outstanding Conservationist of the Year for Rock County.
Veldkamp said that’s due in large part to some conservation practices he implemented on a piece of land he bought in 2016, including repairing a waterway and building farmable terraces. He said the terraces were built by running tile up a hill and building a berm with a tile inlet on the top of the hill to catch surface water.
“It keeps it from eroding down the hill that way,” Veldkamp said.
The repairs to the waterway included cleaning it out and reshaping it after it had silted in over the years, and installing tile alongside it, all of which will prevent erosion, he said. He implemented the conservation practices in 2017 and cost-shared the project with the Rock County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
Veldkamp began implementing conservation practices on his farm west of Jasper back in 1983 when he began ridge tilling.
“We plant on 30-inch rows, so every 30 inches there’s a small ridge built with a ridging cultivator in the summer,” Veldkamp said. “Then in the following spring we plant on top of that ridge.”
He said the process involves no spring tilling and leaves all the residue on top of the ground, which is good for the soil and prevents erosion. Veldkamp said the practice was popular when he started doing it and that his father took an interest in it.
“It seemed like the opposite of now,” he said of that time period. “We were having a lot of dry springs and with tillage in the spring we were having trouble getting the seeds started germinating because of the dry conditions. Leaving the soil undisturbed and planting on the ridge, we got a nice stand.”
He also believes the practice helps the crops get started in wet weather because the ground is firmer and “has more structure.” This year he rotary-hoed the ridges to help them dry out and he got all of his corn planed by May 16 and all his soybeans planted by the first week of June.
The 2018 Outstanding Conservationist of the Year honor is not the first received by Veldkamp for his conservation efforts. In 2008 he and his late wife, JoAnn, received an environmental stewards award from the National Pork Producers Council. The year prior to that they received an environmental stewards award from the Minnesota Pork Congress.
He said those awards took into account environmental and soil conservation practices as well as community service. Veldkamp has served as an emergency medical technician (EMT) with the Jasper Ambulance for over 30 years and is currently the vice president of the Jasper Ambulance Association. He’s also on the Jasper Development Corporation Board of Directors and has previously served on the board of the local elevator and the former Jasper State Bank.
Jim and JoAnn started their farm operation west of Jasper in 1973 with 160 acres and 50 sows. Today Veldkamp Farms includes 1,650 acres of corn and soybeans and 32,000 hogs.
Veldkamp described his farm operation as “full circle.” He grows crops that he uses to make feed for the hogs at an on-site feed mill and uses the hog manure to fertilize the soil where he grows the crops.
Veldkamp said Veldkamp Farms wouldn’t be what it is today without the help of JoAnn, who died of cancer in 2017. He said JoAnn “was a key part of the farm,” involved in every part of it, including the hogs and the field work, until her health started to fail. They’d been married 45 years when she died.
“It was a huge loss for me,” he said.
Veldkamp also said the farm wouldn’t be where it is today without his two full-time employees, Joe Buysse, who started working for them in 1993, and Randy Baden, who started working for them in 2005. He’s also started succession planning by allowing Ethan Kracht to begin buying into the operation.