The 2019 Carlton County Farm Family will be honored at the county fair 1-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, in the 4-H building.
The Gustafson family expressed both surprise and appreciation at the honor.
Scott Gustafson, 42, and his wife Amanda, 40, live at their 115-year-old family farm in Mahtowa with their two sons, Evan, 15, and Brooks, 13. His parents, Roger, 70, and Sue, 68, live nearby and still help often, as do other family members. They are the fifth generation to live on the family farm.
A nephew, Alex Nelson, 13, spends a lot of time working on the 240-acre farm with his cousins. In addition to making hay bales, cutting and other farm work, the boys are also avid basketball players. They even have a basketball court near the house.
Roger has been deeply involved in the community most of his life. He has sat on a variety of boards and committees over his lifetime, including almost 50 years of being on the Carlton County Fair board. Scott does not share that passion.
Scott stopped by the University of Minnesota Extension office in Carlton for a few minutes a few months ago. Troy Salzer, an employee at the office, invited him in and offered coffee and cookies. Scott was a bit puzzled over the unusual gesture.
When Salzer informed him the Gustafsons had won the honor, he was surprised.
“I didn't even know we had been nominated,” Scott said. “It was nice to be recognized.” They still do not know who nominated them.
“If they wouldn't have been here, I would have been in trouble a long time ago,” Roger said. “I couldn't have done it (farmed as long) without the help of the kids. I am thankful for them.
“We got cards in the mail from fellow farmers congratulating us,” Roger said.
The Gustafsons sold the dairy cattle in 2014.
“Milk prices are the same now as they were in the 1970s and 1980s,” Roger said. “But all other costs went up.”
“That was so hard,” Sue said. The farm began as a dairy farm in 1904 and Roger grew up helping his father milking and taking care of the farm.
“I can remember my dad on crutches and still milking the cows,” Roger said.
His father had been in an accident in a mine. There were about 30 guernsey cows in the beginning. When they sold, there were about 60 cows. They have one guernsey cow left, Daffodil, who lives at another farm. She had been shown at the county fair for many years and the family decided they couldn't get rid of her.
Scott started a livestock business 22 years ago to generate more income. The business grew and flourished over the years. He buys, sells and hauls beef cattle for farmers who need theirs brought to a sale barn or new home. He also rents out bulls to other farmers for stud service. He currently has over 100 head of cattle at the farm.
The family continues to grow corn, oats and barley, most of which is used for their own purposes. They rent about 250 acres from nearby farmers.