By Sheila McCoy, Staff Writer
In 1913, Netty Clasemann went against her husband Joseph’s wishes and bought another 80 acres in Long Prairie. She had received an inheritance.
“They didn’t speak for a while after that,” said her grandson, Ron Hengemuhle.
In 2015, Hengemuhle Dairy was named a “Century Farm.” It is a heritage Ron is excited about, even though farming wasn’t always the dream.
Besides his parents, Art and Gerry Hengemuhle, being influential in his decision to farm, Ron believes the real turning point was after his cousin, Arlen Notch, said he would’ve farmed if he had the opportunity.
Instead Notch became an engineer and worked on Boeing aircraft.
“It changed the way I was thinking when he told me he would have rather farmed. I never dreamt that somebody that had accomplished as much as he had would even stay on a dairy farm,” Ron said.
Ron and his wife, Brenda, took over the farm in 1982. She, too, had grown up on a farm.
The Hengemuhle family is excited to be hosting Todd County’s “Breakfast on the Farm,” Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Their passion for dairy farming extends to their children, Stephanie, Nikki, Matthew and Danny.
Nikki, who is the herdsperson at Hengemuhle Dairy, is the main milker. About 170 cows are milked daily and each cow produces about 83 pounds of milk per day. Most are Holsteins.
“I just love milking cows,” Nikki said.
The farm has about 400 head of cattle.
About 14 years ago, Nikki learned how to artificially inseminate the cows. It is a skill she shares with her dad, but to relieve him, she oversees the selection of bulls and the process.
“It all would be too much otherwise,” Ron said.
When Nikki selects the bulls, she keeps in mind what the farm’s united goal is — to produce animals with strong feet and legs, which is a key trait to good milking cows.
On average, the farm produces about 180 calves per year. Brenda oversees the calves and their care.
While the bull calves are sold, the heifers are kept to replace older cows. It is something Danny enjoys taking care of.
In 2014, Hengemuhle Dairy moved from a tie stall barn to free stall with swing eight parlor. There were several reasons for the change, such as wanting to create a better environment for the cows and to make milking somewhat easier.
When the Hengemuhles built the free stall barn, they also built a large room that not only serves as a lunch room and an office, but also as a play area for Nikki and her husband, Matt Andreasen’s children, Riley and Breezy.
“That was the main reason for doing it the way we did. With her two little kids, we needed a place for them to be occupied while we were busy doing chores,” Brenda said.
Hengemuhle Dairy crop farms corn, alfalfa and soybeans.
Parking on June 24 will be available at CHS Prairie Lakes Co-op at 20298 U.S. Highway 71 in Long Prairie and buses will transport visitors to the farm location of Hengemuhle Dairy.
One thing the family hopes hosting the event will bring is a greater understanding to people of what farming is actually about. Too many times, they’ve seen people believe in inaccurate information and misconceptions.
“Come on out and see what dairy farming is all about,” Nikki said.
The family is also hoping to inform people of the impact various regulations and laws may have on dairy farmers.
At the event, a meal of cheeseburgers, chips, pickles, milk and ice cream will be served. In addition, a tour of the farm will be given and several other activities will be held, such as a petting zoo, machinery exhibits, children’s activities and educational booths.