Wade Stubrud can still remember his dad, Claron, sitting at their dining room table mapping out the farm when he was younger. Little did Claron know, more than 45 years later his farm would still be standing just as he pictured it with his son at the helm.
Stardome Farm, LLC, owned by Wade Stubrud, is the location of the 2017 Jackson County June Dairy Breakfast that will be held June 3 in the town of Garden Valley near Alma Center.
Claron and Janice hosted the Jackson County June Dairy Breakfast 16 years ago in 2001.
“They always bring up how cold it was that day,” Wade said explaining that it was 42 degrees that day with snow flurries. “The biggest thing that I remember was when Ron Kind shook my hand and said ‘I’m glad you could make it,’ and I turned around and said to my brother, ‘We didn’t really have a choice.’”
Claron and Janice Stubrud purchased the farm on April 1, 1971 when Wade was just a child. Wade would grow up and eventually purchase the cattle and feed from his parents on Sept. 1, 2008 and then on April 1, 2011, exactly 40 years after his dad purchased the farm, he would purchase the buildings and the land.
The Stubrud family
Wade holds his family above anything else. He is engaged to Sonja and together they have four children, Elijah, Ava, Alise and Irelyn.
“When you walk into the house and they are screaming ‘daddy, daddy, daddy’ and the other one hugs my legs, you know, it puts things into perspective. It is hard to walk away from the farm and flip that switch, but as long as our four children are healthy that is all that matters,” Wade said.
Wade hopes to give his children a strong work ethic and he wants to make sure that they work hard in school so they don’t have to farm like he does, which is something his dad tried to tell him to do.
“My dad tried very hard from discouraging me to do it, he tried really hard, but then finally I said, ‘Dad this is what I want to do and I need your support.’ It was like a switch and he backed me 100 percent,” Wade said. “My biggest regret is not having a healthier relationship with my dad. You truly don’t know what you have until it is gone.”
One of the biggest things Wade misses is sharing the successes on the farm with his dad. When Wade bought the farm, he had three goals which were to get 85 pounds per cow per day, get 300 bushels per acre for his corn crop and fill his 2,000 gallon bulk tank every other day.
He has reached the first goal of 85 pounds per cow per day and last year he came close to 300 bushels of corn per acre when one field came in at 295 bushels of corn per acre.
“I miss my dad and sharing that with him, I truly do. We have reached some of these goals and we have had some cows, we had a cow produce just short of 160 pounds of milk, 158 to be exact or 85 pounds per cow or you know nearly 300 bushel corn. I would give everything they’ve given me back if I could have my dad back here,” Wade said. “My parents deserve a lot of this credit. I’d have nothing if it wasn’t for my parents. Especially my dad. He was sharp and he was a good man.”
Wade said he is blessed that they work with good people, giving his employees, custom operators, lending institutions, veterinarian and nutritionist credit for the successes of the farm.
With all of these great people around him, Wade does admit that he didn’t always know he had so much support. Wade has been sober for 22 years, which is when he received a wake-up call after he was in an accident.
“My injuries were pretty severe and when they sat me up and I reached for the walker and I fell to the floor, that does something to your mind,” Wade said explaining his recovery.
While Wade was in the hospital, he and staff were amazed at how many people came to support him.
“The gal at the information desk came into my room. Those four days I was there, there were like 150 people that had come to visit me, and she told me that, ‘We have yet to have a patient have as many visitors as you.’ I laid in bed and wept because you don’t realize how many people care.”
After his accident, Wade went to an alcohol treatment facility and has been sober ever since.
“The support that I had from family and friends, I lost nothing. I gained so much from it,” Wade said. “I’d have nothing if I was drinking.”
Today Wade owns 131 acres of land including the original 120 acres from his parents. He also rents 85 acres.
A lot of Wade’s land is rotated with rye because he is a big believer in it. He rotates corn for silage with rye on 80 acres, soybeans with rye on 60 acres and the remaining acres are corn for grain.
“Where we are able to double crop, we are able to gross about $400 an acre more with the double cropping,” Wade said explaining that rye has other benefits as well including that they don’t have to worry about winter kill or spraying for bugs, and it also has three-quarters the protein of alfalfa. “We get as much on one cutting of rye as what we do with alfalfa. Last year we got nine and a half tons per acre as fed of rye. With alfalfa it takes us four cuttings to get that.”
Using rye instead of alfalfa has also allowed Wade to focus on his cows more in the summer and he is able to help his neighbors with field work.
Wade milks 98 cows that average 26,055 pounds of milk with 1,030 pounds of fat and 776 pounds of protein. The farm’s somatic cell count is 115 and conception rate is 29 percent, with a 21 percent pregnancy rate.
Ever since his farm went to a twice monthly herd health with ultrasound in the fall of 2013, they have been able to get more cows bred with artificial insemination.
If their heifers are not bred after 14 months, Wade lets them run with a bull he purchased from Pfaffsway Farm.
His family has been very fortunate to be known for their strong herd in the area, something that helped to pay off the farm when Claron still owned it.
“They had a lot of good luck there for a while and actually sold cattle to farmers for replacements and then my dad reinvested it back into the farm. They really built a lot of this farm by selling cattle,” Wade said.
The farm has also had manure pits for 30 years, which has allowed them to get manure away from the buildings.
With his family in good health and his farm doing well, Wade thinks he is a blessed man.
“I am a blessed man. Different times in my life I have been confident and I have been humble. It is humbling, it truly is. It is a lot easier when someone else’s name is on the dotted line too,” Wade said.