Louis and Megan Schlegel gathered up five of their six children to accept their award of the 2021 Crow Wing County Farm Family of the Year.
The Schlegels are the fourth generation of their family to own the farm, which took off in 1908 about 15 miles south of Brainerd under the care of Meganâs great-grandparents Phillip and Annie Fleischhacker. It proceeded down to their son Leo and his wife DonnaMae, then their grandchildren Jeff and Cindy Fleischhacker and finally the Schlegels about five years ago.
âItâs a nice compliment,â Megan Schlegel said of the honor, though the award was also overwhelming, as the Schlegels arenât the type to seek a lot of attention.
âThereâs a lot of neighbors who farm just as hard or harder,â Louis Schlegel said.
The Schlegels still farm with Meganâs parents and have a herd of beef cattle together, while they run a hatchery themselves, shipping hatching eggs and chicks all over the country.
âThereâs kind of a season for everything,â Megan Schlegel said. âThereâs been years where weâve grown larger vegetable gardens and the kids have sold sweet corn throughout the community. We just really, really love agriculture.â
And so do the six kids â Brandon, Stephanie, Ben, Louis, Waylon and Arthur â who also work around the farm.
âThe kids are very helpful. They raise feeder calves,â Megan Schlegel said. âThey get bottle calves and raise them to feeder size, and then we sell them to local finish farmers.â
Arthur â the youngest of the Schlegel kids â is tasked with riding around on a four-wheeler with his grandpa to check the cows.
âHe actually makes sure the cows get checked on a much more regular, multiple-time basis than they would if he wasnât around,â Megan Schlegel joked.
Stephanie, Louis, Ben and Waylon donât hesitate to get up at 5:30 a.m. before school every morning to go do their chores and care for their calves.
âThereâs always something to do, and thereâs never a dull moment,â Ben Schlegel said of working on the farm with his parents and siblings.
Stacey and Mac Caughey had to wait a year to get proper recognition for their award of the 2020 Farm Family of the Year, as the Crow Wing County Fair was canceled in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They farm at B&C Dairy about 12 miles south of Brainerd alongside Macâs parents â 1993 Farm Family of the Year Bruce and Roseanne Caughey â and Macâs great-uncle Milo. Their youngsters Rhett and Cash help out, too. But the boys â clad in matching shirts and belt buckles â seemed even more excited about the prospect of cotton candy and kettle corn that the fair brought. But theyâre farm boys through and through.
âRhett, when he was 7 days old, he was on the combine with us,â Stacey Caughey said. âWe take them with us as much as we possibly can thatâs safe and allowable.â
Mac Caughey grew up farming his entire life. B&C Dairy includes milk cattle, beef cows and agricultural crops.
âWeâre privileged and honored to be the Farm Family of 2020 and bummed out the fair was canceled last year,â Mac Caughey said. âSo weâre glad we can be honored and come out this year and enjoy it.â
Stacey Caughey added: âIt means a lot. A lot of hard work goes into farming. … Itâs nice to get recognized for that.â
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at [email protected] or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.