Empty Nesters Make Room for Hobbies

Steve and Jodi Roelofs live in a garden spot of Minnesota.

The couple raised their family in a farmhouse next door, where Steve grew up and still raises hogs. That house serves as Steve’s farm office and Jodi’s workshop. The former kitchen and living room are filled with projects in various stages of re-purposing, including chalk-painted chairs to be sold at Hilltop Florist and Greenhouse in Mankato, where Jodi has worked for more than 20 years.

Jodi studied graphic arts at South Central College in Mankato where she met Steve, who studied ag production. She says she began working part-time at flower shops when her kids were small because it allowed her to enjoy adult conversation and provided her with a creative outlet. The scale of Jodi’s gardens grew along with her children.

The Roelofs are the proud parents of four sons: Tony, Christopher, Bryant and Matthew. Jody recalls good times serving as a 4-H leader from the time their oldest son was 10 years old until their youngest son graduated in May 2017.

“We had so much fun at the fair with our kids,” said Jody, who grew up on a Minnesota dairy farm and belonged to 4-H.

Family 1

The Roelof Family

Now these empty nesters have adjusted to a new way of life. When their oldest son went to college, the family stopped farrowing. Jodi had been working in the farrowing barns, so this change gave her the opportunity to return to work in a floral shop. Steve and his brother, who had been farming together in a family corporation, decided to split the operation. Steve raised feeders and his brother raised the finishers.

The Roelofs in 2005 stopped farrowing and transitioned to a wean-to-finish operation. Since 2010, they have been custom finishing feeder pigs.

“This arrangement works well for us,” Steve says. “We’re responsible for the day-to-day care of the feeder pigs but we don’t have to assume any of the risk.”

Raising pigs, as well as selling Latham® brand seed, complement the family’s grain operation. Both enterprises allowed the Roelofs to cut expenses while increasing income to allow their son an opportunity to farm.

“We really liked the idea of working with a family-owned seed company,” Steve says.

The Roelofs enjoy outdoor activities all year long, from snowmobiling to water skiing. They also enjoy family dinners — especially this recipe for Crunchy Pork Chops.


Crunchy Pork Chops


  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1/2 cup corn flakes, crushed


  • Dip each pork chop in salad dressing, then roll in corn flakes.
  • place in greased baking dish.
  • Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.