When he was a little kid, Dale Mossey liked to go with his father to work at the Moline plant in Minneapolis and look at all the tractors.
But he didn't go into farming. He pursued the law instead and is a judge for the 10th Judicial Court in the Twin Cities with his office in Buffalo.
In 1991, Mossey decided to take up farming on the side. He had some land in Wright County, and as that got taken up by development, he bought 145 acres in rural Lucan in 2004.
"All judges get six weeks of vacation," Mossey said. "I save it for farming."
And during his vacation the last couple of years, Mossey has offered to help out area farmers who have fallen behind chopping corn stalks in order for them to finish their tillage.
"My first year was last year and I did 600 acres," Mossey said.
Mossey said his custom chopping services started when the person who rents land from him in Lucan had his chopper break down after harvest.
"I geared up for that, bought a chopper and away I went," Mossey said.
The judge also helps out his neighbors with stalk chopping. He remembered when he was working on one of their farms and the farmer across the way was having problems.
"All of a sudden, I saw the chopper had stopped," Mossey said.
The gearbox went out, Mossey said, and the farmer recognized him, saying "aren't you the chopper guy?"
So Mossey finished the job for them as well.
Chopping stalks is not like a court case, where defendants may be returning to appear in front of him again, Mossey said.
"When you've chopped them (the stalks), you're done," Mossey said. "It's not work to me, it's pleasure."
Mossey said the weather has affected his stalk chopping services this year.
"Things are slow this year," Mossey said.
He spent three weeks helping harvest 1,600 acres at Dan Louwagie's farm in Lucan.
"The guys I help with harvest were done on Sunday," Mossey said.
But he's still ready to help wherever he can. Mossey said he has a new John Deere tractor and a Loftness shredder.
"I'm cheaper than the published custom rates because I want to do it," Mossey said.
When he's not helping with chopping stalks, Mossey tends to the alfalfa he has on his property.
"I'm down there every weekend and any other miscellaneous vacation day," Mossey said. "I really cherish my 'tractor time.'"
After he steps down from the bench, Mossey said he wants to continue with the side job he started almost 19 years ago.
"When I retire in two years, I'm going to do more and more (farming) as I'm able to," Mossey said.