By Kerry Drager
Lee and Laurie Paskewitz have invited local families to visit their farm during Todd County’s Breakfast at the Farm event Saturday, July 12, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Solid Rock Dairy farm has been in operation since 1991. It began with just 12 Holsteins and $5,000 down toward the purchase of a foreclosed farm in northern Todd County. Solid Rock Dairy has witnessed many changes over the years including two major expansions and the childhoods of all three of the Paskewitz children.
Originally from the area, Lee grew up only five miles from his current farm. After high school graduation, he attended Bible college and spent five years as a minister in southern Minnesota. Although he enjoyed his time preaching, his heart still remained at the farm, and he kept a few dairy cows during this time.
Laurie, who was originally from the metro area, experienced a whole new world when the family moved. She has embraced country living and has made a happy career at the Staples Elementary as a reading specialist.
“I’m from the cities, so it was very different for me coming to the farm,” Laurie said. “The biggest thing is that I wasn’t close to shopping anymore. Now I have to plan a whole day if you want to go to town, but it’s been a great place to raise a family.”
For Solid Rock Dairy, family is what keeps the farm ticking. When the Paskewitzs first returned to the area, they depended on Lee’s brothers for a helping hand.
“My brother lives right next door and the other lives at our old family farm,” said Lee. “They have helped teach me how to fix things over the years. If it weren’t for them allowing us to use their machinery, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The Paskewitz children, Lindsay, Alek and Colton as well as some nieces and nephews, have played important roles on the farm. From daily chores to assisting in the construction of the new barns during the farm’s expansions, these young adults have worked hard to help the farm grow.
“All the kids have worked at the farm to help raise money to go to college. We sell sweet corn in August and that’s one thing the kids use for their college funds,” said Laurie.
Participation in 4-H is also an important endeavor for the farm. All three of the Paskewitz children were active in 4-H and continue to lease out their cattle to help area youth become successful in the program.
The Solid Rock Dairy expansions include a free-stall barn that was constructed in 1998 and a compost barn that was added in 2005. The herd was increased by 250 head.
The cows are milked three times a day in a step-up parlor with 12 stalls. The cows are offered food throughout the day, and their balanced diet consists of alfalfa and corn that is on-site. A farm this size could not be successful without their additional ten employees that help make the farm possible.
Breakfast on the Farm is an event that is open to the public. It is meant to increase awareness of agriculture and farm life.
“The event is for people to see what goes on a farm and to learn about modern agriculture. Too many people have no idea what farming is all about or where their food comes from. We just want to give them a little glimpse of that,” said Lee.
This year’s Todd County Breakfast at the Farm will be a bit different from previous years. The event has commonly taken place in southern Todd County and Solid Rock Dairy will the first in the northern part of the county. It is being held a little later in the afternoon and will not be serving breakfast. Cheeseburgers will be only $1, and a free shuttle bus will transport guests from the event’s parking at the MotoCity Raceway, located on Todd County Road 7, north of Long Prairie, to the farm.
“I’m not a breakfast food fan. I like cheeseburgers,” said Lee. “With our milking schedule it worked a little easier to have it in between the two milkings. We wanted to see if it would gather more interest if we held it later in the day.”
The event will include a guided tour of the farm, a petting zoo, several photo opportunities, farm equipment exhibits, games and more. The Paskewitzs hope that many families will come and enjoy the activities, see the animals and learn what it takes to run a dairy farm.