Farmer Stories Series with CommonGround | Lori Patnode

Our partners at CommonGround Minnesota are highlighting the women volunteers who join them on their mission to educate on food, farming and sustainability. Today, meet Lori Patnode!

We are excited to continue with our Farmer Stories Series to follow along with CommonGround’s mission to share information about food and farming.

CommonGround wants to create an open dialogue about how food is grown and raised on farms in Minnesota and across the United States. We are women in agriculture from across Minnesota who volunteer our time to share information about food and farming. We share our personal experiences, as well as science and research, to help you sort through the myths and misinformation surrounding food and farming. Our goal is to be a resource for your food and farming questions!

Today, we are highlighting one of our brand new volunteers – Lori Patnode. Read below to learn more about Lori and watch the video at the bottom of the page!

Meet Lori Patnode

Where is your farm located?

Our farm is located on the western edge of Hennepin County in Corcoran. We are one of only a small handful of dairy farms still producing milk in our county.

What do you grow/raise on your farm?

We have a dairy farm where we are milking 120 cows, with another 100 heifers (young females) as part of our dairy herd. We also keep & raise our bull calves (male cattle) as beef cattle. In addition to the cattle, we also crop farm to raise feed for our cattle as well as cash crops sold for additional income. We grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, and winter rye as a cover crop.

How long have you been farming / how long have you or your family owned the farm?

My husband’s great-great-grandparents started the family farm here in 1881. My husband has worked the farm his whole life. I began assisting with milking chores in 1990. In 2017, my husband and our son formed Patnode Dairy Farm LLC. They own and work together as a 5th & 6th-generation team.

Is there anything else you think we should know about you and your farm? What makes farming so special to you?

Dairy farming is in our family’s blood. There are easier, more profitable, less time-consuming, family-friendly careers out there, but being the 5th & 6th generation to continue farming on this land is something we’ve chosen to do. We enjoy being part of, and witnessing, the cycles of life (cattle as well as plants), knowing we are helping to nutritionally feed the world, and continuing to care for the environment and land around us that has been our family’s to tend to for 141 years.

What is something you wish more people knew about farming?

In order to be successful, farmers need to do all they can to care for their animals, land, air, and water all around them – or their current “production” won’t last and their farm’s legacy doesn’t continue. We LIVE where we farm and EAT what we produce – so all of the health factors involved with farming are just as important to us as to you.

You can’t grow a good plant or crop if the soil isn’t there & healthy — thus we are mindful of what goes into our soil & how we tend it with or without using fertilizers, chemicals, and machinery. We want that healthy soil for future generations to use & live on, too!! Our care for the land allows us to have good neighbors & communities.

You can’t ‘take’ milk from a cow – she needs to be comfortable to ‘give’ it (aka let down) & needs to be healthy to give anything of worth. Caring for our cows is our #1 priority.

We need healthy land to raise crops, we need healthy air & water to raise families… not just animals. The farming industry is constantly REDUCING its environmental impacts making it more sustainable than previous generations did. We are open to sharing the truths of what & why we are doing what we do.

What does each season on the farm look like for you?

Spring:

  • Dairy = Once the grass is growing cattle are able to go out into the pasture grounds until winter.
  • Crops = We get machinery prepped & ready to go. Once the cropland is dry enough, we plant our corn & soybeans. Within the 1st month, after frost disappears, our winter’s cover crop of Rye grows & we harvest it. First crops of hay (alfalfa) are cut & harvested. We pray for good weather!

Summer:

  • Dairy = We keep our dairy cows cool in the hot summer weather with sprinklers & large fans.
  • Crops = We continue to harvest hay crops and then we spread manure as each field is cleared (before it starts to grow too tall again). We monitor & tend to the corn & soybean fields as needed.

Fall:

  • Dairy = Heifers that have been off-site on pastures since spring are brought back onto the farm for the winter.
  • Crops = Corn & Soybeans are harvested in a variety of ways (whether for feed or cash crop), and manure is put onto those fields. Cornstalks left behind after combining are baled for winter bedding. The land is prepped for next year’s different crop and cover crops are planted to protect the soil through winter winds.

Winter:

  • Cattle = Frozen mechanics are dealt with in extremely cold temps (example: water tanks are thawed out so cattle can drink).
  • Crops = Machinery is repaired. Next year’s crops are planned (each year we rotate our cropland: from corn > soybeans > alfalfa > corn >> each adds/takes different nutrients in the soil). Seed & fertilizers are purchased. Manure is spread on land throughout winter.

Year-long:

  • Cattle = Calves are being born & cared for. Daily feed is put together using a recipe from our Nutrition Consultant & put out twice a day (it’s in front of cattle constantly). Manure/bedding is being cleared from cattle housing & spread on land as a natural fertilizer. The dairy herd is milked twice a day.
  • General = Something is always breaking down and needing to be fixed.

What are ways our followers can support you and your farm throughout the year?

Don’t assume – ask a farmer instead.

Realize EVERYTHING is marketed so that you’ll buy it and MISLEADING info is fed to us. Go to the sources for the truth!!

Farmers are PROUD of what we do. We’re open to showing you how your dairy & food are created on our farms and answering your questions. Most farmers are quite chatty when asked anything about farming – so don’t hesitate to ask us about ANYTHING!

Be patient, safe, & smart when approaching farm machinery while you’re driving!! We’re trying to get where WE’RE going as quickly as possible, too.

Twin Cities Mom Collective is a locally-focused parenting resource for moms and families. Passionate about parenting and our community, TCMC strives to connect area moms to relevant resources, local businesses, can’t-miss happenings, and most of all — each other!

4 COMMENTS

  1. I do not farm but I do have a keen interest in how our food is produced. And in growing food at such an immense level. I would love to hear all of the stories of farming. Both sides of my family had farms but I only visited as a child and never understood the daily tasks. I grew up in the inner city and loved traveling to the farm. I know that farming is an all consuming occupation and is hard work. I also know that many farmers have been struggling and the wacko weather isn’t helping.

  2. Lori thanks for the wonderful information. I grew up there & am so proud of what your family has accomplished Beautifully done !!

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