A fifth generation farmer, Dominic Hlinsky of Forada says farming is in his blood
He still farms some of the land that his great-great grandpa farmed.
FORADA – Farming has always been a big part of Dominic Hlinsky’s life. His great-great grandpa started the family farm at the corner of Highway 29 and County Road 4 near Forada.
Now, Hlinsky, 29, along with his wife, Kelli, and their almost 2-year-old daughter, Bennie, own and operate Hlinsky Farms in Forada near where his roots in farming began.
Hlinsky still farms some of the land that his great-great grandpa farmed. And land that was farmed by both his dad, Steve “Beaver” Hlinsky and his grandpa, Richard Hlinsky, who have both passed away.
At one time, members of the Hlinsky family were not only crop farmers, they had beef and dairy cattle, too.
But they got out of the cattle business in the early 2000s, Hlinsky said. He took over the cropland, farming corn and soybeans, after his dad passed away in 2018. And now, other than a distant cousin, Hlinsky is the last of the farmers in his immediate family.
Farming at a young age
Growing up, Hlinsky spent as much time as possible helping out his grandpa and dad on the farm. He loved the farming life, especially driving tractors, which he said he started doing at a very young age.
“I did a lot of stuff at an early age and now I look at my nieces who are 12 and I don’t know if I would trust them driving the tractors now, but at the same time, tractors have gotten a lot larger in the last 15 years and are more technologically advanced.”
He remembers a time during spring planting season when he was young and still in school, and calling his dad to tell him he had a fever and had to go home.
“I don’t remember exactly what was going on on the farm that particular day, but I wanted to make sure I was there. I didn’t want to miss it,” he said.
By the time he was in seventh grade, Hlinsky said he was doing tillage and hauling grain to the elevator. He said he had a lot of responsibility on the farm.
Hard, but rewarding way of life
When asked if he knew he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up, Hlinsky quickly replied, “Oh yes!”
He added that people have said that “farming is in your blood” and he thinks it has to be true because there is a lot more to farming than people think. Hlinsky said it’s not just getting in a tractor and planting a crop. He said, “It’s a business, a fun business and a rewarding business, but it is also an extremely stressful business. When you have to rely on Mother Nature every day, it’s hard.”
This past year as an example, he said, was extremely rough. Hlinsky said it was one of the worst droughts he has been through in his lifetime. He has heard about other drought years, like in 1976 and 1988, but last year’s drought was terrible.
“To watch your crops die all summer long and then we finally had decent crop prices,” he said. “It was unfortunate that we didn’t have a crop, but that’s just the way it goes.”
Besides the drought, Hlinsky said the volatility in the markets has been hard. He said the price of corn and beans are up and down every day and that it's a lot more dramatic than it was just a year ago or even six months ago when the markets were a lot more stable.
“It’s unbelievable. And there’s just so many global factors playing into it,” he said. “There’s the war in Ukraine, Russia not exporting fertilizer and ingredient shortages with chemicals.”
But Hlinsky said that even though he didn’t see any of that coming, he’s thankful that he locked in a lot of his prices last summer and last fall for this year so for now, it’s not as big of a deal.
He noted that all of his crops go to the CHS elevator in Glenwood. They buy his products and then they get shipped out and exported via trains from there.
Life off the farm
Although farming takes up a good chunk of his time, Hlinsky works a full-time job off the farm, too. He works as an account manager at Machinery Scope in Alexandria. According to its website, Machinery Scope was founded in 2013 by Jacob Bryce, who grew up on a farm near Glenwood. He started the business with the goal of improving the way people bought, sold and managed their farm equipment through appraisals, inspections and extended service plans.
Hlinsky said he mainly works on the warranty side of the business, working with farmers on their extended warranties for their ag equipment.
Hlinsky said that although it is a full-time job, he can take the time off needed to tend to his farm, especially during planting time and harvest season.
“I’m so very thankful for the owners of the company and their understanding,” he said. “They grew up on farms, as well, so they get it, they understand it. I am blessed as there’s not that many places out there that do that – allow employees to take time off for farming.”
When it comes to his busy times on the farm, Hlinsky said he is grateful for the people in his life who help him and Kelli, including his father-in-law, Neal; his uncle Frank; and his good friend, Sawyer.
“It’s a blessing to have them in our lives,” he said.
Advice for others
Hlinsky said people have to listen to their heart when it comes to deciding whether or not they want to live a life of farming.
If people grew up on a farm and are now in the process of deciding whether or not to stick with it, Hlinsky said that if their heart is telling them to stay, then they should do it.
“But I understand people who want to get out of it because it can be draining both mentally and physically. But the Lord always takes care of us and he has always taken care of me,” he said. “I look back and I can’t talk to my dad or my grandpa right now, but you know, they had hard times, too, everybody does. Every industry does, but the Lord will take care of you.”
Another piece of advice he shared is for people to be aware of farmers on the road.
“We’re only on the road for a few months out of the year,” he said. “Look for the flashing lights. I’ve almost been hit and you know, 95% of the time, the tractor is going to win.”
He said people need to just slow down, take their time, be mindful and be kind.
“Nobody can eat without farmers, you know,” said Hlinsky. “It’s not like we are trying to slow people down. So just slow down, be safe and remember, we’re dads and moms and we want to get home safe to our families, too.”