Sunday, May 9, 2010

Family sticking together on farm

A farming family that started more than 70 years ago continues to thrive in Miner County.
“To make a large family farm work you have to be creative and seize the opportunity to add value-added products to create additional revenue streams so the young guys can make a living too with what you’re doing,” said Greg Callies, one of seven Callies that are involved in the farming operation. “The girls also get involved – they all have jobs and occupations off the farm which creates income and covers much of the health insurance. We all have a vote but once the decision’s made you have to just go forward. You can’t get all caught up by second guessing yourself.”
Eugene Callies started farming 71 years ago at the age of 13 when his father became too ill to farm. He married Dorothy in 1947 and the two made their home on the farm. Their three sons Greg, Jeff and Dan all started farming in the 70s growing corn, small grain, oats, beans and raising hogs, commercial cattle and operating a dairy herd.
Then Greg’s sons, Ryan Miller and David Callies, as well as Dan’s son, Barry Callies, all joined the farming operation. Now, the family raises corn, soybeans, wheat, hay, commercial cattle and purebred Angus and Simmental cattle.
Ages on the farm range from Gene, who is 84, to David, who is just 26.
In addition, each have developed a special expertise in some aspect of the operation; be it cattle breeding, machinery repair and maintenance, bookkeeping and cattle feeding. However, what it all boils down to is that everyone lends a hand when it comes down to the busy time.
Greg Callies summed it up when he said that to become a farmer you have to like what you do: be it working with livestock or growing the crops.
A major challenge for the family is the high cost of the land necessary to run a farm the size of their operation. “It’s hard to think that it could take a million dollars to purchase a piece of farm land and then try to make it work,” Greg said.
The biggest change has been with the new genetically modified crops. “The yields have been something that could never have been attained before they came along,” Greg said. “With the cattle we use a lot more information and data – there’s also more we keep record of – and we use all the information to make the best decision we can. We’ve also made use of marketing tools with the crop insurance and leveraging. That’s been a big change over the years.”
When it is all said and done, the Callies are able to work together. “You can trust them even if they might boss each other,” Greg said. “You get to see the end product of your work – watch it from beginning to end. It’s still a special thing to be able to live and work all together. Sometimes it’s four generations being together working. I think that’s harder and harder to find.”

CAPTION: Callies family members who all participate in the farming operation are left to right: Ryan Miller, Greg Callies, David Callies, Barry Callies, Dan Callies and Jeff Callies. Seated are Eugene and Dorothy Callies. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Callies)

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