FARIBAULT, Minn. (AP) _ A farmer said to be in financial straits killed himself after sheriff's deputies discovered the carcasses of 41 cows that had been dead in his barn since winter.

Richard G. Turek, 42, shot himself in a field on his farm about 14 miles north of Faribault in southern Minnesota on Wednesday morning, Dr. Asa Graham, the Rice County coroner, said Saturday.

Sheriff Dave Schweisthal said Turek shot himself in the face with a .22- caliber rifle after leaving a suicide note, which his family declined to give authorities. Turek's body was found by a son.

A deputy was first called to the farm Monday night, when a neighbor complained about a strong odor coming from the property. ''He was told there was a dead hog and some dead turkeys and he told them to clean them up because of the complaints,'' the sheriff said.

When deputies showed up at the farm again late Tuesday with a search warrant to enter the barn, Schweisthal said, ''He kind of hung his head. Later, during the course of night, he seemed fine and asked what would happen.''

Authorities explained that he might face misdemeanor charges related to the dead cows in the barn, but tried to reassure the farmer that he wouldn't have to go to jail, the sheriff said.

Turek told the deputies his cows had become sick over the winter and died despite his efforts to treat them, but offered no explanation about why he left their bodies in the barn, the sheriff said.

Four hours after the deputies left, Turek's family reported he had shot himself.

''It doesn't make a lot of sense. He put a crop in this year. The crops look good,'' Schweisthal said, adding that Turek and his family have ''had a tough go of it financially.''

''He was trying to ... get back on his feet farming,'' Schweisthal said. ''There are still some unanswered questions that we may never know the answers to.''