By Paul Downer
Members of the Heuer family have been farming near Norwood Young America for five generations, so it comes as no surprise that brothers Paul and Dean Heuer and their families understand and excel at their work.
This year Heuer Dairy, Inc. has been recognized by the University of Minnesota as the 2012 Farm Family of the Year for Carver County.
“We were kind of surprised we were picked for it,” said Dean, acknowledging however that the selection was a considerable honor. “For my wife and my kids and my brother and his wife and kids, it was nice. We work hard at it, sometimes too hard,” he added with a laugh.
“We’re four-generation dairy farmers [five generations if you consider the children who help out], so we’ve been farming for a lot of years already. My brother and I have been farming since we got out of high school,” he said. “I don’t know that we do anything differently than anybody else, but yes, it’s an honor.”
The Heuers were originally announced as the Farm Family of the Year at the annual Dairy Day Dinner event in April, but additional recognition of their status will take place during a special program at this year’s Farmfest in Redwood County on Aug. 9. In all, families from 76 Minnesota counties will be recognized.
“The program honors farm families throughout Minnesota for their contributions to the agricultural industry and their local communities. All of the honored families have made significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities,” said Amy Sarne of the Farm Family Recognition Program.
Farm Family of the Year is not the first honor the Heuers have received over the years. Dean said that both his grandfather and father were named Retired Farmer of the Year at the Dairy Day Dinner event.
Now Dean and Paul share the farming responsibilities on a daily basis. They are currently milking about 120 cows, raising all their young stock on the farm, and also grow about 450 acres of corn, soybeans and alfalfa.
“It’s myself and my brother and we do all the daily chores. One will milk and one will feed or vice versa, either way,” said Dean. “We just work together and try to get it done every day. We don’t have any assigned tasks. I have a son who’s 16 and he’s helping now and then too.”
Paul said that he and Dean enjoy working together and the unstructured distribution of work rarely causes any issues.
“We have disagreements once in a while. We have different opinions on what we should be doing,” he said. “We just talk about it and usually get through it.”
While the two brothers and their families are receiving recognition this year, Dean said they appreciate all the assistance they receive from others to keep the operation running smoothly year-round.
“We have a lot of family and friends that support us and help us, and that goes a long way as far as we’re concerned,” he said. “We have people help us out with milking and things like that so we can get away sometimes. That’s very important to my brother and I too.”
When it comes to farming, both brothers said their favorite duties involve working with the animals.
“I just like waking up in the morning and taking care of the cows. That’s what I truly like about it, working with the cattle and taking care of them,” said Paul.
Dean echoed that statement, and said the farm life offers plenty of benefits when raising children.
“I like working with animals and just enjoy the ability to do different things here and there rather than the same thing daily,” he said. “And raising a family out here has been nice. There’s 4-H for the kids. If they’re bored or sitting around I can find something for them to do, which is good for them. We pay the kids to help out. My son is 16 and he has a 15 year old friend who comes out in the morning and the afternoon to do some work and play around. It keeps them busy and it gives them a good work ethic for life. That’s what we’re trying to instill in our kids here too.”
The Heuer farming legacy now includes multiple honors through the years, and that approach to child rearing could keep Heuer Dairy Inc. running strong for generations to come.
Both Dean and Paul are active in the community as well as on their farm.
Dean is on the cemetery board at Ferguson Cemetery. He is also a director on the Waconia Farm Supply Board and a member of the Carver County Holstein Board.
Paul is a board member for Bongards Creameries, a board member of Carver County Holstein Board, and is involved with the silent auction at Emmanuel Lutheran Church.
About Farm Family of the Year
The Farm Family Recognition Program has taken place every year since 1980. It is sponsored by The University of Minnesota Extension, The College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, The College of Veterinary Medicine, and the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, along with Farmfest.