Farm family giving back to the community
While farming is one of the leading industries in the Midwest, Max and Lyla Radil do more than just farm - they give back.
And on August 9, they were commended for their efforts by being honored as the University of Minnesota's 2012 Farm Family of the Year at Farmfest.
"Mother Nature gives us so many things, and we just want to give back to the community," Lyla said. "But we are so shocked about receiving this honor. We had no clue that we would get something like this."
The Radil farm, just south of Alexandria, was recognized as a Century Farm in 1998 for being in constant family operation for more than 100 years. Max and Lyla are the fifth generation to own it.
"I actually grew up on this farm and moved just down the road from the house I grew up in," Max said. "Farming is what I've always wanted to do; I just love the farm and being outdoors."
Lyla was first introduced to farming in 3rd grade when her father started a hobby farm after they moved from Woodbury to Alexandria - and she instantly fell in love with it.
"Farming is in your blood. You either really love it or you really hate it," she said.
The Radil property is made up of 1,000 acres of owned land and 500 acres of rented land. Only about 1,100 acres are farmed, however.
The farm itself is a dairy, beef and crop operation
They have 130 dairy cows, heifer calves for replacements, market steer calves, and about 60 head at commercial beef cows. They also purchase additional feeder stock and ship about 250 finished steers a year.
In addition to cows, the Radils grow wheat, oats, corn, soybeans and alfalfa, and use most of the crops grown for feed for the livestock.
"We also have about 100 acres of woodland and we heat all of our homes with wood from it," Max noted.
Because the farm has been in constant family ownership for so long, in 1978, Max, his father and three brothers decided to form a partnership where they owned and managed the farm together.
"We have always worked well together, which doesn't happen very often with families when they work shoulder to shoulder every day," he said. "Like any brothers, we have disagreements, but we figure it out and we all work well together."
Though the couple farms the majority of the time, for the Radils, it's not all about farming; it's also about giving back to the community, which is a large part of what the Farm Family of the Year award represents.
"We have been given so much and we just want to show how much we appreciate it by giving back," Lyla said.
Max and Lyla have been involved in the Douglas County 4-H program for more than 25 years and are members of the Forada First Responders. They also teach at the annual 5th grade safety day.
Lyla is a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and coordinates the first responder's booth at the fair.
Max is a member of the Forada Fire Department, a member of the Lake Region Firefighters Association, and serves on the local Agricultural Advisory Committee for School District 206.
And this past spring, the couple traveled throughout the state teaching firemen invaluable fire rescue techniques.
"I got into the program because little towns like Forada and Osakis don't have many people that know farm safety," he said.
Another reason he is so apt about teaching farm rescue though, is that he is a farm accident survivor.
"A few years ago I fell out of a silo and dropped 40 feet onto concrete. I crushed both my heels and a vertebra in my back. I'm lucky to be walking right now," he recalled.
Though the Radils have been constantly active for the past 30 or so years, neither Max nor Lyla are ready to give up farming or their community activities.
"I'm getting to the age of retirement and we need to start bringing the young blood into the farm so that it stays with the family," Max said. "But I'm not ready to leave any of it quite yet."
Max and Lyla have four children, three sons and one daughter, and they're following in their parents' footsteps by staying active members in their community.
Though the Radils fit all the criteria of the honor, they were still incredibly surprised about receiving it.
"We know some of the past winners, but never in our wildest dreams did we ever think we would be nominated, much less win. It shows that the community likes what we do and they wanted us to be recognized for it," Lyla said.
The couple added that they would like to thank the entire committee, the great family they have, and the community that has allowed them to help.
Whether family, farmer or community volunteer, the Radils always give 100 percent and are always excited to give back whenever they can.