“Fairchild,” the gopher mascot, greets visitors to the largest state fair in the United States in terms of average daily attendance.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are centered around showing sheep at the Iowa State Fair. That’s why I was genuinely excited when Kurt Netzke invited me to join his family over Labor Day Weekend at the Minnesota State Fair for the FFA livestock exhibition, the largest FFA show in the world!
Showing sheep at southern Minnesota open shows keeps Kurt and his wife, Kerry, busy throughout the summer. Kurt and Kerry started Netzke Dorsets three years ago and have done well in that short amount of time with their current flock of 15 registered ewes. Their 14-year-old daughter, Haley, and their 10-year-old son, Noah, also show lambs at the Redwood County Fair.
Last weekend the family spent five days at the Minnesota State Fair for the State 4-H sheep show where their Dorsets captured reserve champion honors in the White/Speckle Face Commercial Breeding Ewe Lamb class. In the open class, they secured champion, reserve champion, third and fourth places in the White Face Quality Lamb Show. Their lambs also ranked first and third in Market Pairs. Black face club lambs raised and sold by Netzke Brothers produced two purple ribbon class winners in the State’s 4-H show including Champion Black Face Commercial Yearling Ewe.
In the FFA Show, Haley placed first in the Dorset Winter Ewe Lamb class. A wether lamb raised and sold by Netzke Dorsets was champion in the White Face Market Lamb division and went on to place Overall Reserve Champion when competing against the black face and speckle face champions. This is the second consecutive year that Netzke Dorsets has produced the Champion FFA White Face Market Lamb.
Kurt and Kerry started Netzke Dorsets three years ago. Their daughter, Haley, placed 1st at the Minnesota State Fair.
Both Haley and Noah have been members of the Lyon/Redwood 4-H Junior Rabbit Quiz Bowl Team, which has won the state championship four consecutive years. Kerry has coached the team three years and was assistant coach the first year. In 2012, Haley moves up to the senior division. Meanwhile, Noah looks forward to helping his team defend the state title. Both kids enjoy raising their Mini Rex and Satin rabbits that don’t require all work of training, washing, shearing and showing that sheep do!
Farm chores keep the entire family busy. Kurt and his brother, Glen, grew up on what is now a Century Farm in Redwood County where Kurt and his family now reside. Both of them returned to farm with their father upon graduating from South Dakota State University (SDSU); Kurt double-majored in Agronomy and Animal Science, and Glen majored in Animal Science. They began farming full time and formed Netzke Brothers, LLC in 1993 when their father retired from farming and drove semi trailers for Viessman, Inc. until his death in 2006. Their mother continues to help on the farm during planting, haying and harvest seasons.
The Netzke’s crop rotation includes corn, soybeans and alfalfa. The majority of their alfalfa is baled into large squares and sold to dairy operations. In addition to their grain and forage operation, the Netzkes maintain a 75-head cow/calf operation at the farm with an emphasis on club calves. A 65-head Suffolk-cross ewe flock provides quality show lambs for their annual spring lamb sale.
“Raising livestock has taught our children the circle of life,” says Kerry, who also works off-farm as the executive director for Area II Minnesota River Basin Projects, Inc. “Lambing and calving are always special times of the year. Plus, we enjoy the home-raised meat. Lamb ribs on the grill are a family favorite.”
With fall harvest quickly approaching, many busy farm families will forgo the grill for the crock pot. In honor of the changing season – and in promotion of the food they raise – the Netzkes are sharing their family’s favorite recipes for Lamb Stew and Ribbon-Winning Apple Bars.
What’s your family’s favorite harvest-time meal?
Recipe: LAMB STEW
• Leg of lamb or large lamb roast, cut into 1″ chunks
• 1 c. tomato sauce
• 2 c. water
• 4 tsp. beef bouillon granules
• 1 medium onion
• 1½ c. carrots, sliced or baby carrots
• 1½ c. whole kernel corn
• 3 c. red skin potatoes (with skins), cut into 1″ chunks
• black pepper, to taste
• Italian Seasoning, to taste
Marinate lamb chunks in tomato sauce for 24 hours. Brown meat with marinade, add onion and black pepper to taste. Add water and bouillon until dissolved. Transfer to crock pot. Next add carrots, potatoes and corn. Stir in Italian Seasoning to taste, and cook on low 6-7 hours.
Recipe: RIBBON-WINNING APPLE BARS
• 2 c. flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2/3 c. shortening
• ½ c. milk
• 1 egg yolk, beaten (reserve white)
Mix flour, salt and shortening; add egg and milk. Pat half of the dough into a greased, 9×13 pan. Set remainder of dough aside.
• 5-7 c. apples, peeled and sliced
• 1½ c. sugar
• 1 tsp. cinnamon
• 2 T. flour
Combine filling ingredients and spread evenly over crust; dot with butter. Roll out the remaining dough and place over apples. Beat egg white until fluffy and brush over crust. Bake 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees. Optional: Drizzle powdered sugar frosting over the baked bars.