Galen Stumpf experiences improvement in health
by Jennie Zeitler, Staff Writer
Galen Stumpf of Pierz has lived on his farm his entire life. Most of that time was spent milking a dairy herd, but all that changed two years ago, when the cows were sold.
“We sold the cows at exactly the right time,” said Stumpf. “I enjoyed doing this, but nothing in life is easy. It was a combination of several things, and everything just fell into place.”
A Jack Frost layer barn for 18,000 chickens had been built by Stumpf’s dad in 1966. By 1980, all the Stumpf children were out of high school and a major barn remodeling project was completed. Milking was done in the former layer barn.
When Stumpf married Karla Scholl in 1982, they were able to move directly into the old farmhouse, after Stumpf’s parents, Herb and Elvira, who are now 90 and 84 respectively, had built a house in Pierz.
The younger Stumpf family includes three sons who all became mechanics.
“Karla’s dad was a mechanic, so they must have got that from him,” Stumpf mused.
At its peak, the dairy herd averaged 90 cows total, with 72 being milked. Stumpf added land to the original 120 acres as opportunities came up.
A combination of several factors influenced Stumpf’s decision to sell his herd in 2011. Karla had taken a part-time job in town in 2007, doing seasonal tax work. Equipment was wearing out. His sons were doing their own thing and none wanted to farm.
Stumpf had obtained a Gold ‘n’ Plump broiler farm in 2009 and had been working both operations. He started to question why he was milking.
“Time is too short — there was too much to do and not enough time. I started wondering, ‘Why are we doing this?’ and ‘What is the purpose?’” he said. “The Lord lets you know when it’s time by the circumstances.”
It was a good thing for the boys growing up to experience wide open spaces and learn responsibility, character and to be thankful, Stumpf said.
But when everything fell into place, it was time to sell.
“It’s better to quit too early than too late, for health reasons,” he said. “One of my buddies asked if I missed the cows, and I haven’t missed them for a minute.”
Dairy farmers work hard, but Stumpf had never known anything different.
“Before, even if my body was in the house, my mind was in the barn,” he said.
Stumpf describes being more relaxed now so he can enjoy living.
“My stress level has gone down,” he said. “It’s so easy to fill up our lives, and years ago, our value was determined by how hard we worked. It’s not so much that way now.”
Stumpf notices he is more rested, getting to sleep more and not having to watch the clock. He is able to spend more time with his wife and family.
“We can go out at six on Sunday evening, and stay longer at weddings. It opened up our whole social life,” he said.
“Every situation is so different — workload, health, age, financial status,” said Stumpf. “There are so many variables that determine which decision to make. It just got to be too much for me.”
Now the 1966-era chicken barn turned milking barn with 8-foot ceilings is a thing of the past.
“There was no reason to keep it up,” Stumpf said. “It’s done its duty.”
Rather than having a surplus of time now that he is not milking, Stumpf has added volunteer activities to his calendar.
“Someone has to do the civic duties too,” he said.
He and his wife continue to sing in their church choir and spend time playing with their granddaughters.