Farming Fathers: Love for family drives Turton farmer

Brent Schneider holds his 1-year-old granddaughter while his wife Patti holds his Farming Father Award at the family’s farm near Turton. Farm Forum photo by Elizabeth Varin taken June 5, 2018

Editor’s Note: Six regional farmers were selected as 2018 Farming Fathers. More stories, photos and videos will be posted as announcements are made. See more at

With spring’s work done, a Turton farmer waited for Mother Nature to reward his hard work with some moisture. A reward he didn’t expect came from his daughter as she nominated him as one of Farm Forum’s Farming Fathers. The Farm Forum team delivered the news that it had chosen him for the honor. On Tuesday, the farm also got .70 inch of rain.

In her nomination, Kati Johnson, 28, wrote of her dad Brent Schneider, “My dad is one of the most selfless men I have ever met in my 28 years of living. He drops everything at any given moment should we ever need anything and works hard on top of that. He has two grandkids that love him endlessly and no matter what when we are home at the farm he makes sure to come in and see them before they go to bed or he is sure to see them right away in the morning. He gives endless love, rides in tractors, 4-wheelers, side by sides, and NEVER complains.”

Farm Forum asked readers to share why their “Farming Fathers” deserved recognition. It chose Brent as the second of five men earning the distinction from the nearly 60 well-written entries. The Farm Forum staff delivers a special on-the-farm meal provided by sponsors to the winners. Stories and photos in the Green Sheet share why the chosen men deserve the honor.

Kati called on her mom Patti to tell Brent that Farm Forum chose him as a “Farming Father.” Patti shared, “Brent said, “WHAT? What do I have to do? Oh, my!!”

Brent, 47, said, “I have a beautiful family. I can only imagine what Kati wrote. She’s something. She should be a writer. Patti’s parents had a big hand in raising her and she loved them. For her grandma and grandpa’s funeral, she wrote a piece and she got up and read it. It was great.”

Regarding the nomination, Brent said, “The verdict is out yet on whether Kati is in trouble.”

Kati’s words continued, “Being a farmer is a thankless job sometimes and he is someone who doesn’t expect thanks but is deserving for so many reasons. Watching him do chores every morning, being up all hours of the day AND night during calving, out from sun up till sun down during planting/harvest and still always somehow making time to spend with his family and never saying anything of how tired he is.”

The Farm Forum staff and neighbors gathered in the farm shop filled with well-placed tools and signs showing his preference for green machinery. Brent said planting went well but calving was tough. The family has a cow/calf operation. “With the extreme conditions in April, it was difficult. I plan to calve in April and I don’t have the facilities to calve in the cold and snow. It seemed like it went on forever. But then it was done and time to get in the field.”

A neighbor, Adam Wright, works with the Schneider’s in the spring and fall to handle the planting and harvesting. Once things got rolling this spring, Brent said they planted his and Adam’s cropland to corn and soybeans.

“We started May 1 and got done May 19. Patti had one rig and Adam ran the other. I ran between them with seed and it all worked.”

Subsoil moisture has been scarce in the area for the last four years and the question of “will moisture come at the right time?” is a constant concern. In farming, Mother Nature is the boss.

“We had just enough moisture to get the crop up, we have a good stand but will need rain,” Brent said. “If it rains, it has a chance. We’ve had maybe a quarter of an inch at a time which just settles the dust.”

Family focus

The family is an important part of the Schneider’s life.

Grandma and Grandpa Schneider moved to the area in 1959. Brent moved to the farm in 2009. Mom Sharry and dad Gary Schneider live down the road from Brent.

Brent and Patti married 15 years ago. Patti brought her two children Kati and Michael to the marriage. “After we got married, we had Emma, 11.” Patti grew up just a mile-and-a-half east of the Schneider farm.

Kati lives in Aberdeen with her husband Aaron and their daughters Harper, 4, and Brynlee, 1. The grandkids enjoy frequent trips to the farm. Kati and Aaron help Brent whenever he asks and Aaron has become pretty good at working cows! Patti said, “Brent does fine being a grandpa, but he’s not one who babysits. As far as a diaper change, not so much.”

Brent feels a special bond with Kati and the grandkids and that’s what drives him.

“That’s what it’s all about and it keeps you motivated,” he said. “Hopefully there will be something for them down the road.”

The Schneiders visit their son Michael, 25, in Minneapolis. He helped Brent when in high school and college. He works at a lab and returns home to help with planting and working cows.

Patti’s brothers Mike and Alan Hausvick live a few miles down the road and help when needed. Mike said, “I think Brent is very family-oriented and he’s a good farmer. He treats his family well.”

A trampoline and an outdoor above-ground swimming pool beckoned the kids and grownups on the hot afternoon. Brent figured that with the temperatures around 95, that would be a great place to spend the afternoon after he checked the cows.

The family knows life is precious. Eleven years ago, Gary Schneider was in a bad vehicle accident.

Kati wrote, “He (Brent) farms on his own after his dad was in a bad accident in 2007 that took a lot of his mobility and ability to do what they love so much to do. While my wonderful mother helps where she can, we have this amazing and wonderful man we call our own.”

“After dad’s accident, it was difficult,” Brent said. “We’d work together and he put in as many hours as I did. I struggled for a few years and finally told Patti she had to quit teaching. If she knew what she was getting into she may not have agreed. Patti’s great, she can run anything. In the spring, it is the only way it would work to get the crop in. If auto-steer isn’t working, the tractor is broke. Patti won’t run without it. I don’t blame her. It’s an amazing tool. Once you have it, you can’t be without it.”

Adam said farming together is beneficial. “I don’t farm a lot but I have a couple hundred head of cows. The partnership allows me to use his equipment as it’s tough for me to buy equipment for my limited acres so it works out for us. There are challenges; rain is one of those.”

Now that spring work is done, the family enjoy downtimes. A camper tucked inside the shop offers a way to get away for a few days.

“For Father’s Day, my folks have a cabin at Lake Kampeska. We’ll probably head there for Father’s Day. In May, Mother’s Day gets forgotten with the push to get planting done. We need a break.”

Perfect for roller blading

The Schneider’s youngest daughter, Emma, thinks her dad is pretty great, too.

“He lets me Rollerblade in the shop and we go on the 4×4. I like to tackle him in the house. My dad bought me a quarterhorse. His name is Arlin. I have to do all the chores for the horse. Dad bought us a horse trailer so my mom and I can go to 4-H horse shows.”

To make her dad feel special, Emma said, “We let him watch what he wants on TV which is Pawn Shop and other stuff like that.” And if she could buy him anything, she’d get him a new tractor. A John Deere, of course. “Just a normal one.”

“He’s special to me, he lets me do things my mom doesn’t do.” In a whisper, she said, “He lets me eat pizza.”

Adam and Nikki Wright’s daughter, Tallie Wright, 10, said, “He’s a very good dad. Brent respects Kati and Michael and treats them like his own children. He is a great grandpa to Harper and Brynlee. He takes pride in what he does and doesn’t take life for granted and enjoys making memories. I think, he’ll look back at this and be thankful to his daughter for celebrating his work in farming.”

Kati’s words show how much he does for others: “We watch him not only work our land and cattle but also see him help anyone in the community who needs help. He does this when all he wants to do is take a breather. We hear nothing less than ‘when and how can I help.’ We are blessed to call him ours and we think he is very deserving: Farmer, Father, Grandpa.”

Connie Sieh Groop is a freelance ag writer. She can be reached at

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