WORTHINGTON — The owners of a fourth-generation crop and livestock operation are being honored as the 2020 Nobles County Farm Family of the Year.

Tim and Laurie Blume, along with their son, Adam, and his family, are the owners of Blume Family Land & Livestock. Together they own a 1,200-head cattle feeder operation and farm 2,500 acres in corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.

The farm was founded by Adam’s great-grandfather, who along with his sister and brother each settled on quarter-sections near the crossroads of Monroe Avenue and 260th Street, just west of Worthington.

All four generations of Blumes were cattle producers, though it wasn’t until Adam joined the operation after college that the focus went strictly to cattle. Back in his great-grandfather’s and grandfather’s generations, the farm was home to the traditional menagerie. His grandpa built a chicken barn on the home place for egg-laying hens, and when Tim and his brother, Robert, began farming together, they had about 15,000 laying hens and marketed the eggs to Safeway in Adrian for quite a few years. They also raised about 100 head of cattle annually.

The chicken barn was eventually lost to fire, and while they bought other barns to continue raising laying hens, the plans for the farm shifted when Adam was nearing the end of college.

“When he was just about finished, he said he needed to come home and farm,” recalled Tim. “If that was to happen, I said we were going to build a big cattle yard and increase our cattle herd.”

A 600-head capacity hoop barn was constructed on the Blume farm in 2006, just as Adam earned his degree in ag business from Southwest Minnesota State University at Marshall.

“As a young kid, I was around (the farm) every day,” Adam said. “It was hard for me to see doing anything else. That was where my passion was at — especially for cattle. That’s why we’re strictly cattle today.”

The hoop barn has worked well for the Blumes, though they have had to replace the roof twice over the years after it was damaged in storms. In 2018, they added a 500-head cattle barn with a concrete pit below. The barn is less labor intensive, and the manure value will be higher since it won’t be mixed with bed pack.

The cattle barns on the Blume farm are filled these days with a lot of Holstein-Angus crossbreds in hopes of getting a better price at market. Adam has tried a variety of marketing strategies over the years, from raising hormone-free cattle to raising different breeds. He has also alternated between owning the cattle and custom feeding for others.

“Sometimes we’re 100% custom or 100% owning,” Adam shared. “Now we’re getting into the stages of owning again.

“Custom feeding helps with the risk,” he added. “You’re guaranteed the bills are paid, and you’ve got a living out of it.”

While Adam concentrates on the cattle markets, Tim continues to do all of the grain marketing for the farm — with input from Adam — as he slowly turns over more of the responsibility to the next generation.

The Blumes grow corn and soybeans, with about 60 to 80 acres planted to wheat each year. The wheat straw is used as bedding for calves, and it’s a good feed source, Adam said. Alfalfa production is also a must for the cattle operation.

While the farm keeps father and son busy, both have given of their time to serve the public.

Tim held an elected position on the Worthington Township Board for about 15 years, and spent 17 years on the boards of Consolidated Co-op and then New Vision Cooperative. He also completed 10 years as a manager on the Kanaranzi-Little Rock Watershed Board.

Adam picked up where Tim left off. He’s in his sixth year — and currently serves as vice-president — of the Rock-Nobles Cattlemen’s Association; has been on the YMCA Board of Directors for two and a half years, and is in his first four-year term on the Independent School District 518 Board of Education. Adam has also been in charge of road grading for Worthington Township since 2002.

Tim and Laurie moved into Worthington in 2010, leaving Adam on the farm. Adam and his wife, Maggie, are raising the fifth generation there today. Together, they have three children — Brock, 4; Brinley, 3 and Bryer, 1 — along with Maggie’s two daughters, Alaina and Samantha Reitmeier.

“When they get older we’ll just see where the industry is at,” said Adam of the potential for his children to one day work into the operation. “Everything is so expensive, and we’re making less money. Hopefully farming can be more attractive some day — it’s not now.”

“My wish is the government would try to help crop farmers and livestock farmers out for more suitable prices … but that’s not the way the board of trade works,” he added. “That’s probably the hardest thing about crop and livestock farming — you don’t get to set your price. That’s what can really be stressful. One day you can wake up and life is good and the next day it can just totally change.”

Both Adam and Tim said they appreciate being selected to represent Nobles County as the Farm Family of the Year.

“It is quite an honor,” said Tim, who began farming at age 18 and is in the midst of his 47th year growing crops and livestock. “I was really surprised that anybody would pay attention to us that way.”

Minnesota’s Farm Family of the Year honorees from each county are typically recognized at Farmfest, but the annual farm show that takes place at Gilfillan Estate near Redwood Falls has been cancelled for 2020.

In lieu of the cancelled Farmfest, University of Minnesota Extension plans to release a video celebrating all honorees at 1 p.m. Aug. 6, the day they would have been recognized at Farmfest. On that day, the public is welcome to visit mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu to watch the video and learn more about the farm family honorees.

Honored families are chosen by local University of Minnesota Extension committees based on their demonstrated commitment to their communities and to enhancing and supporting agriculture.

“We’ll miss the face-to-face ceremony for the 2020 Farm Families of the Year, but nothing diminishes pride we take in celebrating their accomplishments,” said Extension Dean Bev Durgan. “These families represent the best in agriculture. They’re innovative and dedicated to their communities; they are stewards of the land.”