WAVERLY, Minn. – There never seems to be a dull moment on a dairy farm. That sentiment rings true at Goldview Farms, located six miles southwest of Waverly, Minn.
Pat Bakeberg is the fifth generation to work the fields and milk the cows on the farm started in 1873. Bakeberg, along with his wife, Joanna, and mother Faye, run the operation.
Bakeberg is the youngest of five children and has felt the call to pursue a life in agriculture. “I was the only one who wanted to cultivate.” He went to school at Ridgewater College for Ag Business with a focus on dairy. After that, he returned home to cultivate with his parents.
A farm can be a well-oiled machine where each member of the family does their job to complete tasks. When there is a loss, it affects all aspects of the operation. Goldview Farms is still reeling from a premature transition. Bakeberg’s father, Greg (Butch) died in December. His passing left a void that the Bakebergs are trying to adapt to. Butch was not just an integral part of the farm, but a trusted advisor and ardent supporter of agriculture in the community – serving for years on the board of directors of the Wright County Fair, Wright County ADA , Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted FFA Alumni, founder of Wright County Breakfast on the Farm and who started a fundraiser for the pumpkin patch.
The immediate Wright County area has dairies that have stood the test of time. “We are a dairy community. Within half a mile of this road are four dairies. All dairies are in their fifth generation. Bakeberg savored what it was like growing up on a dairy farm and is thrilled to raise his children, Harper (3), Olivia (2), the same way. “It’s great to raise the kids on a dairy farm.”
In addition to milking 120 cows, the Bakebergs saw an opportunity to sell beef directly to the customer. “We started pushing it during Covid.” Before that, they sold a few cows for meat a year. “Over the past four years, it’s become more consistent.”
Customers like to know where their meat comes from and appreciate the way the Bakebergs take care of the animals, which shows in the flavor of the beef. “We have a lot of loyal customers. Once they do, they know what they’re getting,” Bakeberg said. Clients are usually people from the community.
Processing is done at North Folk Custom Meats in Howard Lake, Minnesota. On the Goldview Farms Facebook page, Joanna posted information from the University of Minnesota that details how much freezer space is needed for different amounts of beef. This takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out how much space is needed for that much meat.
Dairy prices are holding up and Bakeberg likes what he sees. “Right now is great.” Although it should be emphasized that the high prices are not only related to the cost of dairy products. “Price is good, inputs are high,” Joanna said. Bakeberg wonders if these dairy prices are sustainable. “Prices have definitely gone up, but will that hold up?”
The dairy has recently started using the CowManager system. “It’s basically a FitBit for cows,” Bakeberg said. Ear tags provide data about each cow that can be viewed in an app; cow temperature, feeding times, activity and heat detection. This new technology allows Bakeberg to have access to the health of the herd, whether near or far from the farm.
All milk from the dairy is shipped to Paynesville, Minn. Associated Milk Producers Inc. Bakeberg has been selling milk to AMPI since the early 2000s and sits on their division’s board of directors.
A wet spring delayed planting this year, which alone is very different from last year when rains were scarce. Bakeberg is still concerned about soil moisture because there was such a deficit last year. “Last summer, we were dry. We had pain this spring. Unfortunately, we are still dry. Bakeberg points out that fields don’t need four inches of rain at a time, which happened this spring — just timely rains.
Bakeberg farms 850 acres, growing corn, soybeans and alfalfa. “We grow cash crops.” When it comes to field work, Bakeberg’s brother Dave and nephew Kaleb are instrumental in preparing the ground, as they do all the tillage.
Custom pressing and chopping
What started as an FFA project suggested by Butch turned into a custom baling business for Bakeberg, “It started in 2000 when I was in high school.” The demand for balls continues to grow. “Last year I put in more balls than the first year.” He has help with custom baling from his first cousin, James Winterhalter.
Bakeberg and his business partner Sean Groos operate Hammer Down Chopping, LLC. They custom chop for area farmers and the business continues to grow every year.
Pumpkin Charitable Project
Butch came up with the idea about 12 years ago to plant a pumpkin patch and donate the money earned from the sales to better the community. “One hundred percent of the money goes to local Toys for Tots toy drives,” Bakeberg said. This year could be the biggest patch of pumpkins on the farm yet. “I plant 150 to 200 hills,” Joanna said.
Breakfast at the farm
The farm breakfast was started by Bakeberg’s parents and the county’s ADA organization in 2009 with the goal of educating the public about farming. Over the years, Wright County Breakfast on the Farm has grown with the support of countless other organizations and continues to move from farm to farm. Bakeberg and his wife continue to serve on the central committee, organizing the annual event. In 2018, Wright County merged with Carver, creating the Wright Carver Breakfast on the Farm. This year’s event will be hosted by Halquist Farms in Belle Plaine on June 11 and is expected to have 2,000 attendees.
In 2020, when Covid-19 derailed the annual Howard Lake Waverly Winsted FFA fundraising auction at the Wright County Fairgrounds, the Bakebergs stepped up and offered to hold the auction on their farm. That year’s consignment auction brought in between $15,000 and $20,000. Bakeberg is a strong supporter of the organization as it provided him with a leadership base as well as many fond memories.
If Bakeberg wasn’t busy enough on the farm, in 2021 he ran and won a seat on the board of the Wright-Hennepin Electric Cooperative. “I wanted to try to stay local. I ran against 19 people and I was the only country boy. He feels it is important to have rural representation on the board and to give agricultural issues a voice in the area of electric utilities.
For 149 years and counting, the Bakebergs have cultivated and raised animals on their land. There is pride in all those decades of having a successful farming operation as well as hope that future generations will find the same success and contentment that the Bakebergs feel today.