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Enjoying the challenge of continuing the legacy in Martin Co.

ABOVE: Bob and Lori Calkins stand by their dairy cows in their cattle parlor on Monday afternoon. The life of the dairy farmer is no simple task and the Calkins family has operated in dairy for several years, making them one of the longest standing dairy farms in Martin County.

With over 200 individual cattle, the lifestyle and routine on the Calkins dairy farm is nothing short of busy.

The Calkins farm, located near East Chain, has been in existence since 1863 and is is one of the longest-standing dairy farms in the southern Minnesota area and plains.

The creation of the farm came when Bob’s great-great-grandfather arrived on the land with a wagon, his family, a few cattle, and his four trunks.

To maintain the legacy of the farm, the Calkins family keeps trunks that hold belongings of generations past in their attic. Though Lori and Bob Calkins haven’t described what exactly the trunk holds, they are aware of how much history is contained inside each one.

The Calkins said that before owning the farm, they were surrounded by farm life for years, especially while they were growing up. They described the remarkability of sharing the same farm as their ancestors from more than a century in the past.

“I enjoyed the challenge of it all,” Bob said.

The family gradually expanded its farm with more than 20 heads of dairy cows and now taking care of approximately 250 on the farm. Cows are divided by age and special needs in their pens. Their pens are wide in size, allowing the cattle to move around in their pens, mingle, lay down, and more.

Calves, especially newly birthed, remain in separate pens and are hand-fed after their mothers lick them off following their birth.

Bob said that the farm employs eight other part-time and full-time employees. The couple looks for help during the summer, especially for the hay harvest.

As the climate becomes more chilly, the demand for farmhands decreases, but the farm remains lively and busy.

“The lifestyle doesn’t come with rewards, you don’t think about [commending yourself], you just do it,” Bob said.

“There’s a lot of work, but I wouldn’t want to be in town.” Lori said, chuckling.

Despite the hard labor of operating a dairy farm, Lori said they enjoy cows, and wouldn’t want to strictly only farm crops. The couple described that cattle work was what they were good at.

The Calkins and their family showed cattle at the Martin County Fair and have been involved with 4-H, especially with their children.

The Calkins described an uncertain future for the farm. So far they decided not to expand the farm any more.

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