For many farmers, there simply are not enough hours in the day to complete all the tasks that need to be done. From feeding the animals to baling hay, a day on the farm is full of hard physical labor. For Paul and Josie Syverson, those long laborious days are worth it, and the pair added even more to the mix: three children and two full-time jobs off the farm.
“I have friends from college that say, ‘Geez, isn’t that a lot?’ But I don’t know what else I would rather be doing,” Paul Syverson said.
A rich history
In 1894, Oli Syverson planted roots in Clontarf, Minn., and started the Syverson family farm. Those roots ran deep and have been tended to by generations of Syversons for over 120 years. While the farm has no doubt seen its fair share of change and adaptation over the years, the Syversons take pride in adding to the farm’s history and writing new chapters in the farm’s story.
“We take a lot of pride in the fact that that barn may not be a dairy barn anymore, but it’s still getting used, it’s still in animal agriculture. We’re passing on the knowledge of raising livestock to another generation of kids on the farm,” Paul Syverson said.
Paul’s wife, Josie Syverson, did not come from an agricultural background but has enjoyed becoming a part of a farming family. She is thankful for the Syversons’ vast knowledge of the industry and their long family history in the arena of agriculture.
“I can’t imagine joining a farm operation not coming from a farm family. Paul’s family being in this for many years, we have a lot of the equipment, a lot of the background, a lot of the knowledge,” Josie Syverson said.
A new venture
After many years of housing cattle on the Syverson farm, a new animal is now ruling the roost: sheep.
The Syversons have a flock of about 150. The majority of their sheep are the breed polypay and are sold for meat purposes. While the sheep were a big change from cattle, Paul believes the transition was the best decision for his family.
The Syversons currently work with Dakota Wool and Lamb Co-op to sell their lambs through contract.
Josie has also enjoyed the new venture, welcoming the change of pace compared to her and her husband’s day jobs.
“It's been really exciting. We have busy lives without sheep, and with sheep it is just so fun because it is different from what our day jobs are,” Josie Syverson said.
Josie is a family practice doctor in Benson, Minn., and also delivers babies in Glenwood, Minn., both of which keep her incredibly busy. However, she enjoys her time working on the farm in the evenings and on the weekends.
“I just love the outlet of getting outside to do chores and bale hay and build fence, things that I had never done prior to being married to Paul.” Josie Syverson said.
A family affair
Paul and Josie’s three children Justine, Ole and Oscar were a big part of their decision to raise sheep. The pair greatly enjoy raising their children on the farm and watching them grow. They also believe that growing up on a farm is teaching them many life lessons.
“I think there are a lot of lessons kids learn growing up on a farm, especially growing up with livestock. Both life and death happens on the farm and in life,” Paul Syverson said.
Josie believes growing up on a farm is also instilling the value of hard work.
When it comes to family, Paul’s parents, Richard and Vicki Syverson, play an integral role in maintaining the operations order. Richard and Vicki are well-versed in the agricultural industry and have been a great asset to the farm.
The Syversons are also dedicated to sharing those life lessons and values with those who may not come from a farming background. They have opened their operation to the public so people can see what really takes place on a farm. They're hoping to spread awareness of agriculture and ag literacy.
“They can come see what a real working farm looks like; it’s not a petting zoo. It’s also a YouTube video, they can come and interact,” Paul Syverson said. “We've been able to have about 10 different families come through. A lot of people from town want to see baby lambs.”