BROOTEN, Minn. – The summer of 2017 was generally cooler-than-normal at Jer-Lindy Farms and Redhead Creamery in Stearns County. By: ANDREA JOHNSON
The lower temps were easier on the cows than the normal sweltering summer temps and milk production stayed excellent throughout the growing season.
Crops stayed a little behind average, so when Jerry Jennissen would normally be chopping silage, the corn just wasn’t yet mature.
He expected to chop corn in late September, and combining corn would follow after that.
“We’re waiting,” said Jerry on Sept. 21. “My corn in particular is not ready. I am estimating another week to 10 days. Maybe the first week in October.
“We did get a little hail on it the other night, so I’m watching it carefully to see if that is going to affect it. Some of the leaves were stripped. I don’t think it’s any major damage.”
Strong winds during the night of Sept. 19-20 caught farmers and residents in Stearns County off guard. According to news reports, wind gusts measured 60 mph or more, and heavy rain and light hail fell during two storm events that night.
The damage reports from the region suggested even stronger winds.
Belgrade, just 8 miles southeast of the Jennissen’s town of Brooten, lost buildings and trees. A lot of bin material wound up in fields between the Jennissen farm and El Rosa. Bins were also buckled, and two stave silos – 90 feet and 100 feet tall – were destroyed by the severe weather. Melrose, just 25 miles northeast of Brooten, also had significant damage with roofs torn off and tree damage.
Rural homes, farms and fields throughout the region were hit hard. Power was knocked out. Neighbors and crews helped each other chainsaw fallen trees and branches to get things cleaned up as quickly as possible.
Farmers and crop consultants evaluated corn for silage after the storm. There were guestimates of at least 25-30 percent loss in the region. The corn was just too pounded into the ground for the chopper to safely pick it up.
Jerry visited with the custom corn chopper, who said the corn was running over 70 percent moisture – too wet for good storage.
“We want 66-68 percent moisture,” Jerry said.
After a full growing season, the “white combine” took some of the crop away.
“It is very unusual and another one of those times when you are ‘let known’ that you do not have your crop until you actually have it,” he said.
Although there is never a good time for a storm, the Jennissens and Sjostrom families lucked out because the bad weather didn’t arrive during the Minnesota State Fair.
Driving back and forth between the state fair grounds and home, making cheese, giving interviews and constantly talking with consumers was intense, but worth it for this 2017 Dairy Showcase herd.
Jerry and Linda Jennissen, Lucas and Alise Sjostrom, and the entire Jennissen family and crew promoted dairy and Minnesota’s milk producers through many types of media, including major television shows.
Alise and Jerry both thought they would look back at their time as the Minnesota State Fair Dairy Showcase herd as one of the highlights of a very good year.
This whole summer has been very busy with hundreds of customers coming to the farm to take tours and purchase artisan homestead cheese. It means a great deal to everyone at Jer-Lindy Farms and Redhead Creamery to see that kind of support and repeat customers.
“I knew that marketing was going to be a huge part of Redhead Creamery’s success,” said Alise. “What is surprising to me is how many people really are coming out to take a tour and buy cheese directly from us. I didn’t expect it to be as high as it is, but I was advised early on that marketing is going to be our most challenging step along the way. We took that pretty seriously and have pushed that pretty hard.”
The entire team has now focused their attention on the upcoming holidays, she added. They are making Little Lucy Brie and North Fork Whiskey Washed Munster in late September.
“It will be Thanksgiving soon, so we will be ready for the holidays,” she said. “The holidays are all that are on our minds. We’re making sure we’re ready for that.
“We’ll be releasing a new website hopefully by the end of October, so we are part of that whole process as well.”
Minnesota Farm Guide would like to thank Alise Sjostrom for her reports every two weeks from Redhead Creamery and Jer-Lindy Farms. We encourage everyone to visit redheadcreamery.com to order some homestead artisan cheese and learn more about cheese making and cheese eating for good times this upcoming holiday season.
Source: Minnesota Farm Guide