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Cass County Farm Family of the Year 2019

The University of Minnesota Extension and Cass County Congratulates Ernest and Diane Haehnel as the Cass County 2019 Farm Family of the Year.

Ernest and Diane Haehnel were married in 1964 and started their farm operations in Sauk Rapids, MN.  They moved to their current farm near Motley in 1978.  Up until 1976, they owned dairy cows but in 1976 they sold the dairy cows and purchased sheep. The flock grew to 350 ewes.  By 1981, beef cattle were added to the farm and Ernest and Diane ran a 165-170 cow/calf operation.  6 years ago they sold the cattle and began to slowly decrease the number of ewes.  Even though the cattle were sold, Ernest and Diane rent out the pasture ground and manage the rotational needs of those cattle.

Today the Haehnels own 150 ewes and grow crops including 75-100 acres of corn, 80 acres of barley, 200 acres of alfalfa and 40 acres of soybeans.

Married for 55 years, Ernest and Diane have made their living farming together for 45 years.  Children, Becky, Bonnie and Bill grew up helping with the livestock, square baling, picking rocks and farm needs as the seasons changed.  Ernest says the best thing about living the farming life is “the challenge to grow good crops and animals and to be able to earn a living at it.”

Daughter Becky and her family who live nearby help on the farm.  Becky says it is her parent’s perseverance, and their love of the land and animals that have helped them through the inevitable ups and downs of farming. This farming ethic is being passed down through the generations in their family.

Ernest has served on his town board for over 20 years. Besides working on the day to day farming with Ernest, Diane enjoys her church quilting group, sewing, and baking bread and cookies with their nine grandchildren.

In June, The Haehnel's contribution to Cass County Farming was recognized at the Cass County Commissioners Meeting in Leader, MN and during the Cass County Fair in Pine River.  The Haehnels and other farm family honorees from across the state will also be recognized in ceremonies on Thursday, August 8 at the annual Minnesota Famfest in Redwood Falls.