New Episodes of FarmHER and RanchHER Now Airing on RFD-TV!

Turkey FarmHER Erica standing in barn with young turkeys.

Turkey FarmHER Tackles Tough Times with Tenacity

From caring for baby turkeys to carrying on the same commitment to her family’s farm as the five generations before her, Minnesota Turkey FarmHER Erica Sawatzke is dedicated to preserving her family’s agricultural legacy at Oakdale Farms in Kensington, Minnesota.

Oakdale Farms

Erica Sawatzke is passionate about raising turkeys, particularly caring for the baby turkeys at Oakdale Farms, her family’s farming operation in Kensington, Minnesota, where they raise turkeys as well as grow corn and soybeans.

“I like the responsibility, and I suppose it comes naturally because I’m a woman and I’m a mom,” Erica explained. “But I just—I like being in the brood barn and taking care of baby turkeys.”

Erica also feels a strong sense of responsibility and connection to their farm and wants to carry on her family’s legacy as the sixth generation on the land.

“She’s a lot like her dad,” said Erica’s mom, Deb Nelson. “When she was younger, she’d come to the farm with him. She loved to pick eggs and be on the machinery and just do anything on the farm.”

Initially, Erica’s interest in farming was met with surprise from her family, but she and her husband are now taking over the farm.

“I don’t think I really prepared her for that because I didn’t think that she was interested,” said Erica’s father, Dana Nelson. “It really puts a lot on your plate, and I really admire her for being able to do that.”

Erica Sawatzke from Oakdale Farm in Kensington, Minn. Featured on Season 6, Episode 3 of FarmHER.

Discussing Succession

Passing down your legacy to the next generation can come with a lot of reservations and anxieties for many in the agricultural community. After difficulties making this change in the previous generation, her parents are working hand in hand with Erica and her husband, Eric Sawatzke, on a smooth transition from fifth- to sixth-generation leadership.

“It’s important to have those conversations because if your family doesn’t know, they may be making […] other plans,” she said. “If it’s something that you that you really want to do, just do it.”

Erica hopes her family’s success with this transition can help other young farmers and ranchers be bold in their support for their own family operations.

“You know, it was kind of a hard conversation to have, and I think that’s common in the farming industry,” Erica said. “Like, it’s just hard to talk about transitions. My dad said farming is hard. And it certainly is, but I think that you have more good days than bad days, and that makes it all worth it.”

Erica Sawatzke's turket pullets in the brood barn at Oakdale Farm in Kensington, Minn. Featured on Season 6, Episode 3 of FarmHER.

Overcoming Obstacles & Fears

Despite her longtime fear of birds, FarmHER host Kirbe Schnoor knew we had to share Erica’s inspiring story of passion and resilience with you this season, putting on a brave face to interview Erica among her brood of 15,000 pullets! According to Erica, the young turkeys are curious and peck at Kirbe’s boots out of curiosity. She also discusses the turkeys’ daily routine and emphasizes their good health. Although Kirbe didn’t totally get over her fears by the end of the shoot, she gained an even deeper admiration for Erica’s tenacity and knowledge for raising turkeys.

It’s hard not to be inspired by Erica, who has become a beacon of strength for her family over the years as they’ve faced many obstacles together. From devastating storm damage to struggles expanding their family and a tough health battle, Erica shouldered it all with incredible fearlessness and grace.

“It was amazing to have Erica push through all of that – that person that wakes up and struggles with you and celebrates with you,” said her husband, Eric, “That’s Erica.”

Catch this episode of FarmHer when it premieres on Tuesday, April 2, 2024, at 9 pm Eastern with encores on Fridays at 9:30 pm and Saturdays at 11:30 am only on RFD-TV.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *