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Thousands of maple trees stand in the backdrop of the Jirik Family Farms. About 4,000 of the trees produce sap that feeds into the 1,500-gallon tanks that he stands beside with his dog, Keeper. (Colton Kemp photos/southernminn.com)

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Rice County Outstanding Conservationist Jim Jirik pulls a minnow trap from a frozen lake. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)

As he stood on a creaking, frozen lake with his herding dog named Keeper, Jim Jirik pulled a wire trap from the water. It was full of hundreds of flopping minnows that he’ll use for fishing bait.

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Jim Jirik pulls out homemade sausage and burgers from his freezer.

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Among the wide variety of products made at Jirik Family Farms, Jim Jirik is especially proud of his apple syrup.

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Jim Jirik’s minnow trap, which he uses to catch live bait for fishing, had a substantial amount of minnows. The small fish catch his dog, Keeper’s, attention. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)

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Jim Jirik shows off one of the machines he uses to make maple syrup.

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In addition to honey, bees make wax, which the Jiriks use for a variety of products they sell, or just wholesale.

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Jim Jirik shows where honey and wax comes from by lifting a full collection of honeycombs from one of his hives.

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At the Rice County Fair, Jim Jirik accepts his award and shares a laugh with Teresa DeMars, Rice Soil and Water Conservation District public relations and information specialist. (File photo/southernminn.com)

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Keeper, the Jirik family’s dog that herds cattle, closely inspects the hundreds of minnows as they flop inside the wire trap. (Colton Kemp/southernminn.com)

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The Jirik Family Farm cattle graze on whatever is left of the cornfield. In the foreground, several logs are stacked, which Jim Jirik plans to use to build a loft that he wants to rent out with Airbnb.

Reach Reporter Colton Kemp at 507-333-3129. © Copyright 2022 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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