I remember them starting out with bucket milkers when I was really little. I am not sure when they switched to pipeline milking, but it was a lot easier and even I could do it once I was old enough.
When my dad told my mom that they should buy a farm because it would be so much easier, they would be their own bosses and not have to work as much, I think my mom was swayed by my dad's good looks because farming isn't that easy!
They had lived in Burnsville which is a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. My dad ran a service station called Don's Burnsville Shell and my mom worked at Thermoking. I think the appeal of raising a family in the country was what drew them to buy a farm smack-dab in the middle of Minnesota!
I was about two-and-a-half-years-old when we made the move to begin our life as farmers. My brother, the late Donnie, came around not too long after we moved to the farm. My sister, Pam, a few years later.
I didn't always like the farm. It was hard work. Picking rocks in the spring was probably one of the jobs I hated the most! If you are not familiar with what picking rocks is, let me enlighten you!
My family would go out with the tractor pulling one of our hay racks. We would make paths up and down the plowed fields seeing rocks in the furrows and bending over, picking them up and throwing them onto the rack. I think we lived on a glacial plain that must have carried all the rocks from everywhere and deposited them on our farmland! You could bend over to pick up one rock and spy 20 others. I was always proud of myself if I could carry a huge rock to the wagon!
Then there was baling hay. When we first started, dad and mom used a square baler (which actually produced rectangular bales). It was hard manual labor pulling the bales onto the wagon (or hay rack) and stacking them about six rows high. My mom and dad switched off on driving the tractor to give the other one a break from the heavy lifting.
Later, when I was old enough to drive the tractor, I did that until I was strong enough to actually stack the bales.
Eventually, my dad bought a bale thrower for his baler so that no one had to stand on the rack and stack the bales, the thrower would "throw" them up into the air and they would land on the wagon. There was no order to how they landed, so sometimes when we were unloading the wagon you had a hard time, but at least you didn't have to stack them anymore. It was a time saver because one person could do the baling of hay or straw or whatever and then the other couple of people could unload the wagons.
But milking was the thing that happened year around. We never milked by hand, although my dad did when he was younger. We always had some sort of milking machine. We started out with the bucket milker (top photos). Then, later moved on to the pipeline milking system (photos 4 and 5). The bulk tank (photo 3) was always a constant, although when my parents increased the size of their herd, they did get a larger bulk tank.
The bulk tank was where all the milk was pumped through the pipeline and kept cool for a larger truck to pick it up where it would then go to a processing plant to be made into cheese or other such products. My parents sold to Kraft, so it was a pretty big operation.
My parents are retired now, but dad still crop farms much of the same land that we did when I was a child growing up on a farm in rural Minnesota!
I can't say it was always a lot of fun, but it sure was a good way to grow up!