Tuene Dairy in operation for more than 40 years
By Jolene Farley
John Teune has milked cows for most of his life. John's dad, Pete, has milked cows since he was 9 years old. About 41 years ago, when he was 21 years old, Pete started in business for himself in the Steen area.
The Teunes currently milk about 100 cows. Teune Dairy is equipped with a Double 8 parlor, which milks up to 16 cows at a time, eight on each side.
The Teunes, John and his wife, Lisa, and Pete and Trudy, milk twice a day, once at 5 in the morning and again at 5 in the afternoon. Pete is currently laid up from a fall on the ice last winter that led to surgery, so the others must fill the gap. "You have to work together, I guess," said John.
"You are kind of your own boss, but the cows are kind of your boss, too," said Lisa. "It's like having 100 extra kids. You feed them and you have to clean up after them."
When asked if they ever thought of not milking cows they said, "We wouldn't know what to do if we did."
Although the Teunes admit there have been tougher times, last winter was difficult. "It was tough on the cows, tough on everything," said Lisa.
Teune Dairy raises its own heifers, but the couple commented that prices are currently sky-high on heifers. A top heifer brought $2,400 at the Pipestone auction recently.
When asked what they would change about their operation if they could, John jokingly replied, "Move it to warmer weather."
Climate is probably one of the worst things about the dairy. The cold is hard on the animals and so is the heat, according to the couple. Cows produce less milk and contract mastitis easier in hot weather.
There used to be a road near Steen that had five dairies in a row, but in the last 10 years it has dwindled down to one. "A lot of dairymen are quitting," said John.
Dairies take hard work and commitment. The Teunes cannot venture very far because milking is a 365-day-a-year job. "You can drive 150 miles; then you have to turn around and come back home again," said John.
Teune Dairy has hosted the kindergarten class from Hills-Beaver Creek Elementary School in the past and plans to do so again. The kids help feed the calves and lambs. Lisa said when they go into town the kids always recognize them.
John and Lisa have three young boys, Josh, Eric and Dustin.