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Bobendriers are Pipestone County Farm Family of the Year

The Chuck and Jan Bobendrier family is Pipestone County’s 2019 Farm Family of the Year. They were recognized in August at the Pipestone County Fair.
The Bobendriers described the honor as “humbling.”
“We never considered ourselves farmers, but are very dependent on the ag world because of our business and the fact that we raise purebred Hampshire sheep,” Jan said.
That business is the Pipestone Grain Company that Chuck and Jan bought in 1975 when they moved to Pipestone County from Albert Lea. They live on 20 acres north of Pipestone and own about 70 purebred ewes that Chuck lambs out in the spring and fall.
The Bobendrier’s involvement in the sheep business started over 100 years ago when Chuck’s grandfather started raising and showing sheep at the Minnesota State Fair in 1915.
Chuck began breeding and showing sheep in his middle and high school years and continues to do so today. He and Jan currently show sheep at state fairs in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota and at the national show in Louisville. Chuck said showing sheep has allowed them to make friends all over the country.
“That’s been a family project that’s gotten us all over the United States really, but locally we help out young kids getting started within our area and statewide,” Jan said.
They do that through mentoring 4-H and FFA members who want to show sheep. Their children were involved in 4-H and FFA sheep shows when they were young and now their grandchildren participate in 4-H and FFA.
Chuck and Jan’s grandchildren are now the fifth generation of the family involved in the sheep business.
When asked what has kept him in the sheep business all these years, Chuck said it gives him something to look forward to.
“You get up in the morning and they’re always happy to see you,” he said with a chuckle.
The Bobendriers are past members of the Pipestone Ag Committee and the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce. They have been initiated into the Minnesota Livestock Breeders Hall of Fame and the family was honored by the Minnesota State Fair in 2015 for exhibiting continuously for 100 years.
Families receiving Farm Family of the Year honors were selected by their local county University of Minnesota Extension committees for demonstrating a commitment to enhancing and supporting agriculture and agriculture production.
“These farm families are a major driver of Minnesota’s economy and the vitality of Minnesota’s rural communities,” said Bev Durgan, dean of the University of Minnesota Extension, in a statement about this year’s Farm Families. “The University of Minnesota is proud to recognize these farm families for their contributions to agriculture and their communities.”
In addition to being recognized at the Pipestone County Fair the Bobendriers, as well other Farm Families from around the state were recognized during a ceremony on Aug. 8 at the annual Farmfest near Redwood Falls. Profiles of all of the 2019 honorees can be found on the University’s farm family website at mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.
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Local Farmer Named to Extension Post

Garen Paulson of rural Jackson is the new University of Minnesota Extension educator in agricultural business management providing leadership for the Southwest Minnesota Farm Business Management Association.
For more than 80 years, this association of member farms has cooperated with University of Minnesota Extension and the Center for Farm Financial Management to improve their financial management skills and knowledge while generating public data and educational programs for the benefit of all southwest Minnesota agriculture.
Paulson previously worked as a part-time contractor for the SWMFBMA for several years.
“Garen has great experience, having worked for the association as an analyst and field staff person since 1990,” said Wesley Beck, association president. “I believe the SWMFBMA is well positioned to meet our members’ needs.”
Paulson has a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and economics from South Dakota State University and farms with his son Zach north of Jackson. He also currently serves as the vice chairman of the Jackson County Planning and Zoning Commission.
“I am excited and honored to be asked by the university and board of directors to provide leadership to the SWMFBMA,” Paulson said. “I look forward to my new role as extension educator in ag business management and field man for the association. I plan to continue the long line of solid leadership for the association.”
Don Nitchie, who retired from the position in June, will continue to work for SWMFBMA as a part-time contractor, serving member farms and assisting with the transition of staff and clients.
“Sometimes transition creates uncertainty about the future,” said Kevin Klair, University of Minnesota Extension ag business management program leader, “but the transition from Don to Garen brings a continuation of good leadership, a wealth of knowledge about the association and agriculture in southwest Minnesota and ongoing relationships with members and contractors, which will contribute to the continued success of the association and outstanding services to its members.”
Paulson began his duties Aug. 5 and will maintain his primary office at the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center at Lamberton.
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How a retired State Trooper became
an elk farmer

Cliff Mulder, of rural Pipestone, spent 31 years as a Minnesota State Trooper. After his retirement from law enforcement 31 years ago, he decided to raise elk.
The 86-year-old spoke about how he became an elk farmer and his experiences raising the animals during a recent Brown Bag Lunch presentation at the Pipestone County Museum.
Mulder told those who attended the presentation that his interest in elk farming began during his time as a State Trooper when he pulled a man over for having a broken taillight. The man opened his trunk to fix his taillight and Mulder saw that he had a couple jackrabbits in the trunk.
“Then we got talking hunting,” Mulder said.
Having found a common bond, the men started hunting together. One of their trips took them to Idaho where Mulder shot an 11-point bull elk.
“It was such big, monstrous animal, I took the head home and hung it on the wall eventually,” Mulder said. “It’s still there.”
During one of their hunting trips, Mulder met a rancher in Montana who raised elk. The rancher told Mulder that he sold the antlers for $110 a pound and they often weighed around 35 pounds.
“That sounded pretty good,” Mulder said.
He bought his first elk in 1990. Two of them were females from a zoo and another was a male from a farm that raised animals for zoos. He paid $600 each.
“I thought that was a lot of money,” Mulder said. “Later on I sold calves for $3,500 a piece. Everybody was wanting to get into it at that time.”
He said there were several ways to make money with elk. One of those was selling their tusks, which look like teeth, but are made of ivory like an elephant’s tusks. The ivories are used as jewelry.
“I have sold a lot to Indians up on the Canadian border,” Mulder said. “You get about $10 a piece for them.”
As he learned from the Montana rancher, the antlers also generate income. Mulder said he harvested some antlers when they were still soft and growing stage and some that were shed, which typically happens in March or April. He said the antlers which grow about an inch a day or more are usually ready to harvest by June. The sale price ranges from as low as $15 a pound and as high as $110 a pound, depending on the antler. The antlers are used as a supplement to treat arthritis pain and an aphrodisiac.
“Most of it goes to China,” Mulder said.
When the antlers are cut off they leave behind burs. When the new antlers grow in, the burs fall off. Mulder said the burs are sold for art and belt buckles.
He also sold the meat, which he said is high in fiber and low in fat, but a little tough.
At his high point, Mulder and his son-in-law had 90 elk. He kept the cows at his farm and his son-in-law kept the bulls at his farm. Mulder sold his elk about three years ago to a farmer near Lake Benton.
Mulder said raising elk was a fun experience, but that it could be dangerous at times, especially when the bulls are rutting and the cows have their calves. He shared a story of one dangerous encounter he had with a bull.
“He knocked me down into the snowbank,” Mulder said. “I lost my glasses. Luckily he started working on my feet and I would just kick at him. I slid myself under the fence and got up into the next paddock.”
In addition to raising elk, Mulder served as president of the Minnesota Elk Breeders Association after it formed in 1993. During that time he visited elk farms all over the state to learn what others were doing with their operations. At that time, he said, there were 20 elk farmers in the state. Now there are 105.

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Nauerth caps 50-plus years farming with trip to World Ploughing Contest

John Nauerth III has been farming for more than 50 years in Jackson County, but recently capped off his farming experience by attending the 2019 World Ploughing Contest at Lake of the Woods.
The contest took place Aug. 30 through Sept. 1.
“I had read about it in the Minnesota Corn Growers Magazine and thought this would be my only chance to attend a world plowing contest,” Nauerth said.
The World Ploughing Contest has taken place every year since even before 1953 when it gained some recognition, Nauerth said. It takes place in a different country every year.
“This year, 29 countries took part in the contest,” Nauerth said. “I was able to go up to one of the two contestants from Russia while there and, even though the Russian contestant I talked with spoke only a little English, I was able to converse with him through his interpreter. We had a friendly conversation and I was invited to visit Russia.”
Nauerth said at the start of the plowing contest, each contestant from each country plows a strike furrow. Then everything stops and the judges judge each competitor’s strike. Then a light pole flashes a yellow light notifying the competitors to get ready to plow their plot.
“They hold a random drawing at the start as to which country plows which plot,” Nauerth said. “Then, when the competitors are all lined up, the yellow light goes to green to signify the start of the contest and they all have so many minutes to complete the plowing of their plot.”
Nauerth said those competing jump off their tractors somewhere between 50 and 60 times as they plow their plots using 100-foot tapes to make sure they are plowing straight, as well as one side to another. They also measure depth and how the soil is laid over.
“The plots are probably about a city block in size,” he said. “But they only have so much time to plow it. There is no GPS and no auto-steer on any of the tractors. They use two-bottom plows because around the world most plots farmed are small, often carved out of a forest.”
Nauerth says the World Ploughing Contest is like the world soccer match of agriculture.
“The overseas competitions can draw as many as 300,000 spectators,” he said. “I think there were several thousand spectators at this contest at Lake of the Woods County.”
Although 29 countries fielded contestants, visitors from more than 30 countries attended the event.
Eight-time U.S. national champion Gene Gerber competed again this year and placed third for the United States. He took first place in 2017. Ireland took home the first-place honors.

Zeinstras inducted into 4-H Hall of Fame

Mike and Lisa Zeinstra are the newest members of the Pipestone County 4-H Hall of Fame.
The honor is given to a family each year after a vote by the 4-H Leaders Council and the award is presented prior to the ribbon auction on the last day of the Pipestone County Fair, or Saturday, Aug. 3.
“It’s a pretty big deal,” Mike said.
“I was pretty shocked,” Lisa said. “I had no clue we were going to receive this. We’re very honored.”
The couple, who have operated a dairy farm near Holland for 42 years, said they found out they would receive the award on Wednesday, July 31. They were serving ice cream at the fair when their daughters told them there was something they had to go see at the blue building.
“I thought my granddaughter, first year in 4-H, did a project,” Lisa said. “So they were pulling my leg, of course, and said, ‘Yes, she did something.’”
They went to the blue building where they found a display created by their daughters that indicated they’d been inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame and listed their many contributions to 4-H over more than 20 years. Mike said he actually found out about it five minutes before that when someone congratulated him on the honor.
Their contributions to 4-H include being active in projects such as fashion review, photography, community service and dairy. Lisa served as the club leader for the Prairie Grangers 4-H Club for over 10 years and helped with various committees including interstate exchange and community pride. Mike has helped with the dairy quiz bowl, the species committee and dairy judging. They also share their expertise in animal showing, and lease cows to 4-H members to show at the fair because their kids had friends who were interested in showing and didn’t have animals.
“I just thought that gives them an opportunity for a learning experience,” Mike said. “They can learn some work ethic and responsibility as they grow up.”
Ten 4-H members showed animals that belonged to the Zeinstras at this year’s Pipestone County Fair, including three of their grandchildren.
The Zeinstras said neither of them were involved in 4-H when they were young. Their involvement started when their oldest of four daughters, Amanda, became involved when she was about 9-years-old. They said Amanda had friends who were in 4-H and they thought it would be good for her to be involved. The rest of their four daughters became involved after that. The oldest of their six grandchildren are now involved in 4-H as well.
Mike and Lisa said they believe 4-H teaches valuable life skills including responsibility and public speaking, and that their kids have made many friends through their involvement. Lisa said she believes 4-H has even helped their kids become successful in their chosen professions, which include a nurse practitioner, a teacher, a physical therapist, and working at the family dairy.
“Another thing I think it has done, it has given us a lot of things to do as a family,” Mike said. “Whereas at times I might have stayed at the farm and kept working, because we had an event or something going on I took out the time to spend with my family. Some of our best memories are what we’ve done with our family in 4-H.”