Frericks family celebrating Producer of the Year award

By Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
jennie.zeitler@ecm-inc.com

Blue Diamond Dairy in Melrose, stewarded by Glen and Sadie Frericks, was named the Milk Producers Association’s 2012 Producer of the Year. The award was presented at the Midwest Dairy Expo, Nov. 27.

The path they took to their successful Stearns County farm was rather roundabout with some unexpected twists and turns.

Glen grew up just a couple of miles away, on a traditional tie-stall dairy farm. After high school, he majored in animal science at the University of Minnesota (U of M).

Sadie grew up near Tamarack in Aitkin County on a grass-based, seasonal dairy farm.

“The cows were dried up for two months each winter,” she said. “It made it easier not to worry about a frozen barn or doing chores in the cold.”

Also a student at the U of M, Sadie majored in agricultural industries and marketing. She and Glen met at the Minnesota State Fair just as she was beginning her freshman year. He was two years ahead of her.

They married in September 2002, while Glen was working as a state meat inspector. Sadie graduated in 2003 and began working for Farm Service Agency (FSA). They lived in Cambridge at the time.

“We had talked off and on about farming. Glen planned to stay with the state for five years before farming,” Sadie said.

But circumstances intervened. Sadie’s dad in Tamarack took a job off the farm, and the couple decided to give farming a try. They leased the cattle, facilities and land.

“It was a great opportunity to try farming without a major investment,” she said.

In June 2006 they bought the cattle. It wasn’t too long afterward that they heard from a farm family in Stearns County who was looking for a herds couple to take care of the farm while the farmer, Sam Salzl, recovered from an accident.

“We accepted the invitation and signed a one-year agreement with one bizarre request,” Sadie said. “We wanted to bring our cows with.”

Glen and Sadie brought 35 of their cows to the Salzl farm, while Glen’s dad and brother made room in their barn and milked the other 10 cows.

“We moved to Stearns County for the year, and took a look at the big picture,” Sadie said. “We soon started looking for farms, to make a lifelong career.”

Flashback to 2005, when they were still living in Cambridge. Glen found a photo of a farm they liked in the Peach, and he tore the clipping out of the paper.

Fast forward to their farm search, and Glen and Sadie found the same farm listed for sale. Since it was offered as a whole property, buying it was not even a remote possibility.

Their lender advised them what to look for in a farm, and Sadie did a lot of online searching. While driving on County Road 17 near the farm she saw a “for sale” sign, but recalled that it had not come up in her searches.

“I did an exact address search and found it had been parcelled off into a 20-acre building site, with the possibility of renting the remaining acreage,” she said. “That is exactly what our lender told us to find.”

Sadie eagerly showed Glen what she’d found and they called the realtor the next day. They closed on the property July 7, 2007 and started moving in.

“It had to have been divine intervention,” said Sadie. “It’s crazy how things fell into place.”

The 58-cow tie-stall barn and the house were both ready to move into, which was a relief and a blessing.

Blue Diamond Dairy is a “hybrid” dairy. “We’ve taken the best of both of the farming systems we grew up with,” said Sadie.

The cows live in the pasture during the summer, and are fed a mixed ration in the barn during the winter.

“With forage prices high now, we’re talking about moving to rotational grazing next summer,” she said.

Five-year-old Dan Frericks is already learning to farm. “I help my dad feed the cows sometimes with my own wheelbarrow,” he said.

Read more online about the Frericks family farming philosophy at www.bluediamonddairy.com.

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