Goebel Dairy tradition continues with partnership of brothers Vern, Elmer and Linus in St. Anthony

Vern & Maxine Goebel
Goebel Dairy includes four farms worked by Vern and Maxine, Elmer and Kathy and Linus Goebel. The Goebel brothers grew up on Farm #1, established by their father, Norbert, in about 1929. Pictured are Vern, left, and Maxine Goebel.

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
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The partnership of three Goebel brothers combines their individual talents to make a successful dairy farming and cattle breeding operation that encompasses four farms and 500 acres.

Eldest brother Vern and his wife, Maxine, live across the road from the home place, the main farm located northeast of St. Anthony. Brother Linus lives in the original farmhouse.

Brother Elmer and his wife, Kathy, live on what they call “Farm #2,” less than a mile and a half away.

Their father Norbert bought the farm in 1939 when he married Theresa Sand. The house was already standing on the property. They raised seven children together.

The Goebels run all of the farms together with one set of equipment. They are now milking 150 Holsteins total on three of the farms. They also raise alfalfa, corn and barley.

All calves from the farms are housed at “Farm #3.” Heifers are bred in a central location, and once they have calved, they are returned to the herd where they were born.

The Goebel brothers raise predominantly home-bred cattle. “We use our own bulls as much as possible,” Vern said. “Now and then you have to have an outcross (for genetic diversification) so we bought two new cows about three years ago.”

The Goebels also sell some of their breeding stock.

“Linus is by far the better cow man,” he said. “When breeding cattle, you have to really understand genetics.”

Linus and Elmer take care of most of the breeding responsibilities, while Vern does much of the
mechanic work.

“I’ve always liked equipment and field work,” said Vern. “I like taking care of the fields; I’ve been doing that almost 70 years.”

He pointed out that it’s not just the men working on the farm.

“For over 40 years, I’ve run equipment, fed calves, done field work and anything else that needed to be done,” said Maxine.

“We take pride in good cattle and what we’ve accomplished,” Vern said. “Our dad took pride in breeding as good a cattle as possible, and we just kept going.”

“Our herd average has been 27,000 pounds of milk per cow per year and 1,000 pounds of butterfat,” he said. “We’ve been steady at that level for several years.”

“It takes a commitment to dairy farm,” Maxine said. “You have to be around 24/7. It takes more dedication than a regular job.”

The Goebels’ fourth farm is home to some horses. There are buggies to use with the horses, and a restored Model A Ford or two. There are also two restored World War II Willys Jeeps. They have all appeared in area parades in the past, but there just hasn’t been time recently.

“It doesn’t work when parades are at 7 p.m., and we need to be milking then,” Vern said.

Memories of days gone by come to mind when Vern and Maxine think of threshing. “Neighbors came from all over and helped each other,” Vern said. “We had lunch out in the field about 3 p.m. You just can’t beat that summer sausage and lemonade.”

“Every Sunday afternoon, kids came from all over and played ball in St. Anthony,” he said.

“A person has to be dedicated to do well at anything,” Vern said. “A farmer has to be a feed consultant, electrician, mechanic, agronomist and manager.”

There are no Goebel children who are farming, but one grandson is farming with his grandpa and great-uncles until time for college.

“There are very successful men and women who farm even if they did not grow up farming, but that’s not the usual way,” he said.

Vern would like to encourage anyone thinking about dairy farming to have good cattle. “That’s where your income is; most of your time and work has to be put into where the income is,” he said.

Vern and Maxine emphasized that it’s not just a job for one or two people.

“It takes the whole combination to make this work,” Vern said. “No one can do it alone.”