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Hendricks family named U of M Farm Family of the Year

Photo by Deb Gau The Chad and Pam Olsen family of Hendricks were recognized Sunday as the 2017 Lincoln County Farm Family of the Year. On Thursday, they will be recognized by the University of Minnesota Extension as well. Along with Chad and Pam, their children are pictured: Josie, 16, Claire, 15, Ellie, 12, Charlie, 9, and Nora, 7.

HENDRICKS — The Chad and Pam Olsen family of Hendricks has been named Lincoln County’s 2017 Farm Family of the Year by the University of Minnesota. Farm families, like the Olsens, are nominated by their local county Extension offices.

“I really don’t know who nominated us,” Olsen said, “but it felt kind of good. It is a great honor that someone nominated us.”

Chad Olsen started farming in 1987 with a small dairy farm. He milked 50 head of Holsteins, he said.

On Dec. 19, 1990, the barn burned down, and Olsen lost everything, including his herd. He continued to raise grain and started a custom combining business, Olsen Custom Farms, in 1992, with one combine. He also rebuilt the barn and began the climb to his current 3,500 head of cross-breeds and Holsteins. However, he does not milk any longer.

Currently the Olsens grow corn, soybeans and small grains, including oats, wheat and rye for cover crop on their farm.

“We ship them all over the country,” Olsen said.

Olsen’s custom combining takes the family and other crews from Texas to Canada every summer and into fall.

“Starting in 1992, it was just in Minnesota and South Dakota,” Olsen said. “In 1995, we started in Oklahoma, and it has grown from there.”

Most of the time, Olsen said, he has eight different crews running. The employee numbers vary from six to 14, depending on the size of the job.

“During the peak time of year, we have 70 to 75 employees,” he said. “We run 80-plus combines.”

“The season is from middle of May to end of November,” he said. “My family goes, too, from Memorial Day weekend through the middle of August. Just so the kids can get back in time for school, and we have to tend to our own farm, too.”

Chad and Pam’s children are: Josie, 16, Claire, 15, Ellie, 12, Charlie, 9, and Nora, 7. The teenagers attend Deubrook High School in White, South Dakota, and the elementary age children attend Hendricks Public School.

“The kids spend as much time as they can with their horses,” Olsen said.

Pam used to teach school until we started having kids,” Olsen said. “Between raising kids and running a combine in a pinch, she’s busier than I am. The only thing she won’t do is get a commercial drivers license to drive truck for us.”

The Olsens are active in their church, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Ivanhoe; in U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc. and in the New Grove 4-H Club in Hendricks. Chad is also an active member of the Hendricks Fire Department.

The children showed their horses at the Lincoln County Fair this past weekend, earning several State Fair trips. However, since they have been to State Fair and have other commitments, Olsen said they passed on the trips this year.

“It was good. We had a good time,” Olsen said. “The horse show on Wednesday went well. They all qualified for State Fair trips, but they have volleyball and cross country that they want to participate in at school.”

The Olsens received a certificate from Lincoln County Extension at the county fair last weekend and will also be recognized by the University of Minnesota Extension on Thursday at Farmfest on Gilfillan Estates, rural Morgan.

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