Dairy farming has been a ‘good life’ for Morrill family

(Pictured: Lou Brown, stands beside what, in less than two years, will be the only cow left on the farm. Staff photo by Liz Verley)

Lou and Jim raised six daughters on their farm that is located in Morrill. And although none of the daughters have any interest in taking over the farm, several still return to help mom milk when dad is in the field or at a meeting. When Jim is available to do the milking, Lou continues to help with other chores both in the morning and evening.

Lou said, “Farming has been good to us. We both enjoy living on the farm and the kids may not think it but, there isn’t any better place to raise children.”

Both Jim and Lou were raised in the Morrill area and farm their own 225 acres plus—they rent another 60 acres from Jim’s brother.

They married in 1967 and worked for a few years in the cities—Lou as a secretary at the corporate headquarters of Fingerhut and Jim as a hydraulic mechanic.

They began farming across the road from their present home in 1970—starting with four cows, seven heifers, one pig and a 60 John Deere tractor.

For several years Jim worked at Don’s Welding five days a week and a half-day on Saturday, farming after his working hours.

They both credit the Vet’s Ag Class that Jim took for putting them on their feet.

Managing the farm by themselves, except for some part-time help during field work time, they now milk 50 cows and raise their own replacements. Lou said, “By raising our own we don’t have to worry about what diseases we may be introducing to our herd.”

They also raise the majority of the food for their animals, although this year, like many others in the area, they will have to buy alfalfa due to the crop’s winter kill.

This spring will find the Browns planting 150 acres of corn, 30 acres of oats and alfalfa and 50 acres of beans.

The Browns’ daughters—Jill (Lentner), Jackie (Och), Jody (Jacoby), Janet, Janell and Jolene all were Morrison County Dairy Princess candidates.

Jody was the only one crowned a dairy princess and went on to represent the region at the Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest.

Lou recalled, “That was quite an experience. They treated all the contestants like they were Princess Kay. I remember Jody sat in the cooler for eight hours while they carved her head in a block of butter. They provided all the contestants with Columbia Wear because it was so cold in there.”

Lou said, “The biggest reward in farming is seeing the goals you have set out accomplished and surpassed.”

What made farming successful for the Browns? Lou said, “Working together with the children, as well as each other, is essential. Some people don’t realize it but, farming is a seven day a week job. In farming you have to work well together.”

When the Browns moved across the road the barn held 27 cows. They took out some pens and increased it to hold 38 cows.

The biggest challenge the Browns faced was the year they added on to the barn and increased the herd to 50. Lou said, “Jim says we should have gone to 75 cows. We also put in comfort stalls and a manure pit.”

Lou and Jim are both active in other areas. Lou served six years on the Minnesota Dairy Promotion Council, on the ADA/DC of the Upper Midwest board for six years and is presently secretary of the Morrison County Dairy Association. She is also serving as the secretary/treasurer of the Anniversary of Morrison County past Dairy Princess Committee.

Jim served on the Board of Directors for the Ramey Farmers Coop Creamery for 27 years and is a trustee at St. Joseph’s Church in Morrill.

What does the future hold for the Browns?

Lou concluded, “The future for dairy farming at this time doesn’t look very bright. I’m retiring from milking when Jim turns 60, (in a year and a half). We will retire from dairy farming and Jim will continue to put in the crops and raise steers.”

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