Hometown Farmer - Stensland Family Farms

HTF - Stensland Family Farm

A family farm, homesteaded more than 100 years ago, is branching out with the help of robots, advanced technology and hard work.

"The dairy's been on this farm for 100 years we've been milking cows here," said Doug Stensland, of Stensland Family Farms.

The robots have only been on the farm for around six years, though.

There are three of'em, milking the almost 200 cows on the farm, near Larchwood, Iowa.

Doug says he wished for something like these technological helpers when he was growing up.

"I remember our vacations when I was a boy, because there was one of them," said Doug, fondly remember days of milking cattle.

The machines are fully automated and the cows come in to get milked at will.

"There's a pellet that they get and it's a real palatable," said Doug. "I call it the candy, they come in for the candy."

But these milkers aren't the only technological advances in use on the farm.

There's an automated manure scraper, the cows lay on water beds and there's even a robot continually pushing feed closer to the cattle.

"It recharges itself every time it goes back to its doghouse, I call it it's doghouse over here," said Doug, pointing to a small cylindrical enclosure that the robot uses as a home-base. "We put all this technology in and the boys got to a point where they must have had a little too much time on their hands, and they thought, 'well, let's just do a creamery now!'"

So, that's what the family did, back in October.

If you go past the bottling machine and the high-tech, washable air vent system, you'll find some ice cream.

With a creamier taste due to a unique pasteurization process, where the milk doesn't reach as high of a temperature as other pasteurization processes.

"We did a lot of blind taste-testing and basically, when we tasted that type of a milk, we knew right away that's what we'd have to do and that's what we'd have to have," said Doug.

There are a lot of new products for sale on this old family farm.

The Stenslands offer tours of their farm and have opened an ice cream parlor in Sioux Falls.

You can buy their products at the farm, or at stores in Northwest Iowa and in Sioux Falls.

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