Three generations of Stellings work side by side. And the fourth likes to tag along, too.
They bring different ideas and experiences all necessary to be successful, especially as the fourth generation watches and learns the life that has become so vital to the area and world.
Duane Stelling offers wisdom and life experience. His son Mark brings stability. His grandson, Nick, tackles new technology. The three generations of Stellings make it work.
Day in and day out they are happy to have one another’s help and quickly admit it takes even more assistance at times.
“Beyond family, we are very fortunate of the good hired help and friends if we ever need help.” Mark said with gratitude.
Duane and Violet Stelling moved from Orchard to Bloomfield in 1964, bringing with their two sons, Mark and Tim, to Knox County. They bought their farm from Garron Schmeckpeper, which went on to operate Schmeckpeper Implement for 30 years.
Focused on dairy, the Stellings ran a successful milk operation from 1964-2000. In 2000, they became more involved with cattle feeding, which they continue today, as well as raising corn and soybean crops.
While Tim Stelling opted to leave the family farm and eventually started his own, Mark stayed and joined the family operation.
Tim and his wife, Linda, live in Osakis, Minn., and have three children — Eric, Nathan and Stacy. Tim farms and milks cows and works beside his two sons.
Mark became a second-generation Stelling to work the land. Much as changed over the years, especially for Duane, who remembers using horses to get all the farm work done.
Family has always been a key aspect for the family. Mark married Karen Kauth in 1973 and welcomed a son and daughter — Nick and Julie — who were side by side their parents much of the time.
“When the kids were young, they slept in the tractor so farm work can get done,” Mark remembered.
After Nick and Julie each graduated from Bloomfield High School in the late 90s, they attended college. But both returned to the family farm in Knox County.
“It makes you glad you were born raised where you can count your blessings,” he said.
Like their father, Nick and Julie added to the legacy with families who love the farm.
Nick and wife Beth (Elsberry) began a cow/calf business the same year they married (2007) and have raised children Piper, Parker and Padden to share in the farm life.
“I am very thankful to do this as my job,” Nick said.
Julie married Eric Ketelsen in 2008. Together, they run Ketelsen Hay and have three daughters — Raegan, Kenna and Lainey.
Julie stills helps out on the Stelling farm wherever needed, whether it’s the grain cart or the tractor.
“My sister can run a grain cart better than anyone I know. I would pick her any day,” Nick said proudly.
Farming has ran through the Stelling blood for years, and it likely will continue with the fourth generation of farms eagerly watching and learning.
What they’re seeing first hand is the passion and their elders have for the land and farm life. After all, it’s not really a job — it’s more of a way of life.
“I am 65 and most of my classmates are retired and doing what they love to do,” said Mark. “I have been retired for 50 years because I get to do, what I love to do everyday. My dad would say the same thing.”