I have always chuckled about the observance of Labor Day.
    Not that I don’t think it serves a purpose. Having a three-day weekend in early September is terrific. For many, it’s a great way to finish summer with either a weekend trip or one last extended weekend at the cabin.
    As a parent of school kids, it’s great for my kids. To have a three-day weekend shortly after school starts or having a four-day week being the first week of school is a nice way to slowly acclimate kids back into the routine.
    After talking to an elementary school principle, she said starting the children and teachers with a full five-day week is exhausting, mentally, for both student and teacher. The gradual increase makes a big difference from her perspective.
    My smirk comes from what Labor Day meant for me and my 10 siblings growing up on our farm south of Sauk Centre and the significance of Labor Day to dairy farmers as a whole.
    Traditionally, for us Klaphake kids, Labor Day meant more labor before our parents lost their entire workforce to school.
    Often times we would be chopping corn and filling the shorter of our two silos, a 16-by-40. If we weren’t doing that, we were making a silage pile on the west side of the barn.  
    Our parents wanted nothing more than to have a good handle on as much fieldwork as possible before we started school. I totally understood their perspective. Adding the time-consuming task like filling the silo while doing all the duties us kids did during the day was immense, so why not get as much done beforehand?
    So, if the corn was mature enough, silo filling was a Labor Day task.
    My dad would run the chopper, and one of my brothers hauled the loads. The rest of us would work on the regular daily chores and other tasks on the farm.
     I vividly remember one Labor Day climbing the bigger silo, a 20-by-60, with a pitchfork and spending much of that morning forking silage around so we could get the silo as full as possible. We would top them off at least once, sometimes more, to get as much feed in as possible.  
    Another Labor Day activity was cleaning calf pens. Once we had them cleaned, we would bed them heavily with small squares of oat straw.  
    Our parents liked fall calving. Starting in late August through mid-October, we had many calves so we wanted the pens prepared.
    Bringing cows and calves in from the pasture and training the calves to drink added even more to our work load.
    If we had close-up heifers that we thought would calf in the next week, we would bring them in from the pasture and put them in the barn and get them used to their stall. Doing that with a group, not a pair, made the task much easier.
    Labor Day was also the time our mom would spend going over our back-to-school list with each of us kids. She wanted to make sure all of the kids had the necessary supplies of No. 2 pencils, notebooks, rulers, etc., ready for our first day of school.
    Things haven’t changed much as far as a farmer’s recognition of Labor Day.
    When I spoke to my brothers and some of the weather watchers we have with Dairy Star, several talked about how they started chopping corn silage on Monday. Others said they treated the day like any regular Monday on the farm.
    I recently read that Labor Day was established by trade unionists who thought it would be a good idea to have a day to celebrate labor by giving them the day off. Dairy farmers must have been the exception.