Living our Faith on God’s Holy Land: Long Prairie couple to host 2024 Rural Life Celebration

(Photography by Paul Middlestaedt)

Nathan and Samantha Middendorf are nurturing more than crops and livestock on their farm outside of Long Prairie.

Together, they work daily to embody the 2024 Rural Life Celebration theme, “Living Our Faith on God’s Holy Land,” and farm life is a life neither would trade.

“It’s our own little piece of the world where we are doing different things every day,” Nathan said.

Samantha added, “It’s busy, hectic and we are usually exhausted by the end of the day, but after a day of work, we know we have put in our time to serve God through our talents and to serve others with the fruits of our labor.”

The Middendorfs, who both have farming in their blood, are this year’s hosts for the annual diocesan Rural Life Celebration Aug. 18.

“My parents, Bob and Roxann Massmann, own a dairy farm by Osakis,” Samantha said. “We had a similar size dairy farm when I was growing up and a little over 400 acres of land.”

Nathan’s family continues to farm as well.

“Both of my brothers are farming and have their own dairy and land,” he said.

Nathan and Samantha’s farm has 63 mature cows for milking and heifers in an adjacent yard. Both are a mix of Holsteins and Jersey Browns. There are also chickens, a farm dog and a handful of farm cats.

Work on the dairy farm begins between 6:30 and 7 a.m. each day.

“We are out the door and start with feeding. Then we milk and work on some clean up,” Samantha said. “Our chores take us about two hours in the morning and three in the evening, as we do a bit more with feeding and bedding at night.”

At the Middendorfs, chores are a family affair, as evidenced by two sets of child-sized wheelbarrows and shovels near the silage, an occasional toy tractor around the yard and two swings hanging from the rafters of the barn.

“It is rewarding watching my children experience farm life,” Samantha said. “Noah is only 3 and he is helping in the barn as much as he can. He wants to be right by my side at nightly chores and works to see what he can do. Logan, 2, already says, ‘I can do that, too.’”

Their witness to the beauty of farm life extends well past the Middendorf’s own children. Samantha teaches pre-kindergarten and kindergarten at Christ the King Catholic School in Browerville and has integrated agriculture into her classroom.

“I do as much with my students as I can. This year, we had an incubator and watched chickens hatch,” she said.

“We also have a tower garden in the classroom. We plant seeds and check the pH of the water. This year we grew peas, lettuce and tomatoes. The lettuce we grew was served in the school cafeteria.”

For the integration of this curriculum in her classroom, principal Cindy Iten and dean of students Sarah Becker nominated Samantha for the Soil and Water Conservation Teacher of the Year. Samantha was the first winner for Todd County and went on to win the state title.

The Middendorfs are active in their parish, St. Mary of Mount Carmel in Long Prairie, part of the Five Star Area Catholic Community, where Nathan has been a lifelong member.

“It’s a beautiful community and a beautiful church. We’ve heard Nate’s dad tell us stories about how the farmers built the church,” Samantha said.

The Five Star ACC, along with the Middendorfs invite everyone to attend the Rural Life Celebration, which will begin at 1:30 p.m. and includes outdoor Mass with Bishop Patrick Neary, C.S.C., followed by a meal and ice cream. All are welcome and are encouraged to bring their own chair.

The day, which will occur rain or shine, also will include the presentation of the Catholic Century Farm Award and the Catholic Rural Business Award, family-friendly entertainment and a special collection to support the Rural Life Fund.

“We are excited for the day of the celebration to arrive,” Samantha said. “We look forward to everyone coming to experience our farm — to see and to learn, and to share in God’s goodness around us.”

Celebrate Rural Life

Sunday, Aug. 18 at 1:30 p.m.
Samantha and Nathan Middendorf farm
17655 County Road 36,
Long Prairie

Author: Amber Walling

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