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Farm Family of the Year

The Schilling family has been selected as a 2014 Farm Family of the Year. Three generations of Schillings are shown. Front row (from left): Griffin Schilling and Chandler Schilling. Back row: Curt Schilling and wife Molly; and Carla Schilling and Clayton Schilling. Robin Baumgarn/Daily Globe

ELLSWORTH — Clayton and Carla Schilling began a journey 32 years ago when they got married and started farming.

Now, the Schillings are joining 73 other families around the state being honored as a 2014 Farm Family of the Year. Representing Nobles County, the family will travel to the Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls to be recognized Aug. 7 at Minnesota FarmFest.

The Schillings began farming on rented land from non-family members in 1979 before purchasing their current homestead in 1988. Initially, both Clayton and Carla worked off of the farm while their farming operation began to take shape. Over the years, the property has seen a few changes, including grain storage and hog confinements. The farm also grows corn and soybeans in addition to the hogs the Schillings raise.

Clayton said he wants the farm to eventually become a century farm.

“When we bought our first farm in 1988, we (were) the first generation on this farm,” Clayton said.

“Many family farms are five generations. ... We are the first generation,” he continued. “Someday, my goal is to have my farm — that I just started in 1988 — to be a centennial farm. That’s what you always hope for.”

Clayton and Carla have bought several farms in Rock and Nobles counties since then.

So far, two of their three sons have expressed an interest in working on the family farm. The couple’s son, Curt, and his wife, Molly, now help on the farm in addition to working for the George-Little Rock School District.

Clayton and Carla both worked additional jobs to get where they are today — Clayton for 31 years, Carla for 26 — and they advise other would-be farmers to do the same.

“You may have to be willing to work off-farm for a few years until you get things going to get your feet underneath you,” Clayton said.

In the future, the Schillings hope to expand their livestock and land to accommodate future relatives wishing to join the farm.

“Slowly, we have grown the farm to where it is today,” Clayton said. “You are always trying to add. You are always trying to grow, but you’re trying to make improvements as you can.”

The Schillings say they feel blessed to be able to maintain their farm and move toward the goal of a century farm.

“One of the most rewarding things is you get to be around your family,” Clayton observed. “A lot of people don’t get to have family that close all the time. We get to see our kids and grandkids a lot.”

Other area families honored as 2014 Farm Families of the Year are: Brent and Jane Imker Family, Cottonwood County; Dave and Brenda Pomerenke, Jackson County; Verlinde Farms, Murray County; Cottonwood Angus Farms, Butman and Oye Families, Pipestone County; and Harlan and Sue Stueven, Rock County.

Daily Globe Reporter Robin Baumgarn may be reached at 376-7323.