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June 2012

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friday, June 22, 2012

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www.farm-news.com

farm news / fort dodge, iowa

9

Featured story

Family honors five Century Farms By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer POCAHONTAS — For Lee Halder and his wife, Linda Vander Zeyden, it’s satisfying to see four of their five Century Farms from their kitchen window. “Land buying has been a tradition in our family,” said Vander Zeyden, who grew up a mile south of the farm where she and her husband live west of Pocahontas. Vander Zeyden’s great-grandfather, Gustav Schryer, began purchasing Pocahontas County farms in Dover and Marshall Townships after emigrating from Germany. Halder, who also has German ancestry, noted that his grandfather, Frank Halder, homesteaded one of the family’s Marshall Township farms in 1885. For generations, Pocahontas County has provided acres of fertile land for growing corn Halder’s father, Charles Halder, enjoyed exhibiting his best ears of corn at the shows that were once held across Iowa and the Midwest. He competed in the Allee Show at Newell, the Pocahontas County Fair when it used to be held in Fonda, the Clay County Fair and the Iowa State Fair. He would ship ears of corn to the Chicago International, said Halder, who noted that his father won countless ribbons and trophies through the years. “In 1948, the corn was especially good and made 100 bushels per acre,” Halder said. This won his father a high yield contest and $100 from the Pocahontas

Halder/VanderZeyden Century Farm Established: 1912 Generations: 4th township: Marshall Acres: 160 Awarded: 2012 Chamber of Commerce. Charles Halder was an innovative farmer who planted test strips so he could see what farming practices worked best. “He also put an attachment on his horse-drawn John Deere planter that dropped starter fertilizer,” Lee Halder said, who graduated from Ware High School in 1952 and farmed until 1998. Corn wasn’t the only crop that thrived in the rich soils of Pocahontas County. During the Great Depression, Vander Zeyden’s grandfather, Martin Rebhuhn, raised potatoes for the forerunner of the Hiland Potato Chip Co. “He saved the farm with his potatoes, which he raised on about 40 acres,” Vander Zeyden said, who still has her grandfather’s potato planter and potato digger. “He’d get about 300 bushels per acre and would sell 100 pounds of potatoes for $2.” Vander Zeyden understands the risks and opportunities that are inherent to farming, since she left a teaching career to begin operating her family’s farm in 1985 when her father was ready to retire. After

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

Lee HaLder and his wife, Linda Vander Zeyden, of Pocahontas County, said they are proud to own five Century farms. she married Halder in 1988, the started pouring in. high school proms, wedding couple began building their future “We found ourselves in the receptions and other celebrations. together on the farm. Tragedy restaurant business,” Vander The barn and the family’s struck one cold, windy November Zeyden said, who later decided Century Farms hold many fond night in 1989, however, when a that the farm’s dilapidated barn, memories for the couple. “The fire destroyed their home and which had been built in 1906 and land means a lot to us,” Vander threatened their lives. was once well-known in the area Zeyden said. “Through good times The following spring, the cou- for barn dances, could be a perfect and bad, we’ve held these farms ple decided to build a new house fit. together.” on the farm and begin their lives In 1997, the couple moved the The family intends to keep it anew. After the Halders moved in barn onto a new foundation 70 feet this way, Halder said. “You’re later that year, a friend approached east of where it originally stood. rooted in the land when you have a the couple about hosting his com- By 1999, the massive remodeling Century Farm.” pany’s Christmas party. They project was complete. Since then agreed, the party was a success and Halderwood Farms (www.halderContact darcy dougherty maulsby soon requests for meal catering wood.com) has hosted countless by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.


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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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friday, June 22, 2012

Boone County

Farm teems with youths, young stock By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer OGDEN — Young life is abundant on the Crosman Century Farm located just south of this west central Boone County community. Small children, as well as a spring-time herd of calves, keep this particular Century Farm nearly as active as it once when it was first settled in 1903. The original 120 acres, was purchased for $150 an acre and is owned by Dan and Jeanine Crosman and their son and daughter-in-law, Eric and Emily Crosman. Dan and Jeanine Crosman own a part of the farm ground, while Eric and Emily Crosman own the acreage and part of the farmland and live on the acreage as well. The farm first became a part of the Crosman family when Dan Crosman’s great-grandparents, Aaron Ulysses and Emma F. Crosman, moved to Iowa. The couple rented farm ground and farmed in the Boone County area for several years before buying the ground in Beaver Township. The farmland made its way through the family including Dan Crosman’s grandparents, Trelley and Helen Crosman; several great aunts and great uncles; other aunts and uncles; his parents, Jack and Norma Crosman; and his sister Linda and her husband Michael McCoy. Dan Crosman grew up just a mile away and remembers visiting his grandparent’s farm.

Crosman Century Farm Established: 1903 Generations: 4th, 5th township: Beaver Acres: 120 Awarded: 2010 “They always had large gardens and it was a family get together when it came time to harvest potatoes,” Dan Crosman said. “I knew when it was getting time for the school year to start. We would be harvesting potatoes,” Jack Crosman said. “There was a lot of canning and always a good meal there,” Norma Crosman said. Extraordinary events that have changed the landscape of the farm include electricity in 1940, but also a tornado that hit the farm on April 18, 1941. Jack Crosman recalls being sent home early from country school due to the impending bad weather. When the Crosman children arrived home, they decided to head out of the house to get their chores done. But they were stopped by their older brother and told to get down into the basement. They sat and listened, Crosman said, with what “felt like forever and thinking their brother must have been joking with them.” It was just then their brother came running down the steps for safety.

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson

erIC CrOSMaN and his sons Brock, in foreground, and Jakob, get ready to do cattle chores on the Crosman Century farm. What was thought to be two tornadoes that combined into one large twister, which wiped out almost the entire farmstead only saving the house which was just slightly twisted on its foundation. Jack Crosman said his parents, Trelley and Helen Crosman, had been away for the day shopping in Des Moines and when they approached the farm, and saw the damage and didn’t know the fate

of their children until they saw them safe in the yard. “I can’t imagine what went through their heads wondering what had happened,” Jack Crosman said. Trelley and Helen Crosman raised chickens for the nearby HyLine company. “He raised thousands of chickens as layers, selling the eggs back to Hy-Line, and did that for many

years on a pasture until they wanted him to build a confinement building. He didn’t want to and decided it was time to get out of the business,” Crosman said. The farm operation has seen cattle, pigs and sheep, making livestock an integral part of the Crosman farm. Currently, the family manages a cow-calf herd and a hog confinement is going up next door as a way Eric sees to keep the farm growing. “The only way to be able to keep the farm is to keep it growing,” Eric Crosman said. “Like putting up a swine barn now, my boys or my brother’s kids can maybe continue the farm on. That’s what started the farm — livestock; that’s what’s going to keep it going.” Jack and Norma Crosman agree and said it has always been a dream to keep the farm in the family. “So when Eric decided to move here,” Norma Crosman said, “we were happy to have another Crosman on the farm.” “I have a lot of big shoes to fill. The farm’s been around a lot of years. I still run things by my grandparents,” Eric Crosman said. Dan and Jeanine’s other son, Paul Crosman, married to Melissa, drives truck and farms and operates a beef cow herd alongside with Dan Crosman. Essentially the Crosmans help each other in all aspects of the farm. Contact Kriss nelson jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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friday, June 22, 2012

Buena Vista County

innovation defines Chindlund Century Farm By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer STORM LAKE — Cecil “Bill” Chindlund always knew he wanted to be a farmer, and he’s grateful that his family’s Century Farm has afforded him this opportunity for decades. “I love my job,” Chindlund, 84, said, “and I’m glad I can still be involved with the farm.” He said he’s seen countless changes in agriculture during his lifetime. The Chindlund family’s farm near Storm Lake can be traced back to Anders “Andrew” Kinderlund, a Swedish immigrant who passed the farm onto his son, Alfred Kinderlund. By the time Alfred’s son, Les Kinderlund, also Chindlund’s father, was running the operation, rural electrification was beginning to transform farm life in Buena Vista County. “Shortly after World War I and into the early 1920s,” Chindlund said, “the neighbors went together to buy light poles and wiring and helped the power company set the poles.” He noted that his family’s farm home, which was built in 1913 from a plan supplied by Sears & Roebuck, was already wired for electricity. Tractors were also revolutionizing Iowa agriculture. Les Kinderlund was one of the first farmers in the area to begin switching from traditional horsepower to mechanical horsepower. He had a Titan tractor by the mid1920s, and in 1939 he purchased a new Farmall F20 from a dealer in Newell.

Chindlund Century Farm Established: 1909 Generations: 5th township: Hayes Acres: 320 Awarded: 2009 “We used that tractor with the corn picker,” Chindlund said. One of the family’s most memorable crops, he said, occurred in 1943, when it raised 183 bushels per acre of DeKalb 422 corn. “That was a lot of corn in those days,” Chindlund said, who noted that the achievement earned his family the champion corn crop of Buena Vista County that year. Working smarter paid off For a mechanically-inclined young man like Chindlund, the farm offered plenty of places to hone his abilities. When Chindlund was 16, he rigged up a bracket on the Farmall tractor so he could take his new Motorola radio to the field when he was plowing. “I used to listen to a lot of baseball games, because they came in the best. The neighbors could hear my radio from a quarter of a mile away.” Chindlund’s creativity and entrepreneurial streak continued when he began farming full time after graduating from Hayes Consolidated High School near Storm Lake in 1946. He started a custom-baling business and later ran a custom corn shelling business for 25 years. As his operation

-Contributed photo

THe CHINdLuNdS used a two-row corn picker during many harvests past.

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

BILL aNd BeTTy Chindlund, said they are glad they could rear their seven children —alan, anni, susie, norm, Jeff, Joan and Jenni —on their Century farm. grew, he looked for new ways to farm more efficiently. “I remember all the years we walked beans, and I wished there was a better way. That’s why I made my own weed wiper in the 1960s. It could be mounted on a 460 Farmall and would wipe herbicide on the tall weeds and corn.” Chindlund, who later made his own bean bar, also found other

innovative ways to use his talents. He began selling trailers for the Jet Co., in Humboldt, a job that he still holds after nearly 40 years. He also served on the Buena Vista County Farm Bureau for 37 years. Interacting with other farmers has long been a part of life for Chindlund, who used to participate in the Hayes Township Farmers Club, following in the footsteps of

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his parents and grandparents. Twenty to 25 local families belonged to this club, which met monthly at a member’s farm. The Friday gatherings included a business meeting and perhaps a speaker, along with a big meat-and-potatoes meal. “It was always interesting to get together and talk about current events,” Chindlund said, who is glad that he and his wife, Betty, could rear their seven children — Alan, Anni, Susie, Norm, Jeff, Joan and Jenni — on the farm. While Jeff and his wife, Jean, now operate the Century Farm, Chindlund enjoys running the combine and helping out with the corn and soybean operation. Carrying on the family’s farming tradition is important to Chindlund. “People sometimes say, ‘We’re just farmers.’ I say, if you’re still farming, you’re on top of things. Be proud of it. We’re proud of our rural history and our Century Farm.”

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friday, June 22, 2012

Calhoun County

Sexton Century Farm reflects resilience By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer ROCKWELL CITY — When the Sexton family looks back on the history of its Century Farm, the story includes a legacy of overcoming obstacles, focusing on the future and maintaining family ties. “My great-grandfather, Joseph Stumpf, evidently was optimistic about the future of farming in this area, because he acquired enough farmland that each of his four sons who were interested in farming were able to have their own places,” said Keith Sexton. Stumpf, Sexton said, purchased 240 acres of Calhoun County farmland in 1911 for $27,000. A German immigrant, Stumpf assumed mortgages of $13,000 and drainage taxes of $489, which totaled roughly $168.70 per acre. On these acres, Stumpf and his wife, Anna, reared six boys and four girls. Although Stumpf was on target with his optimism of farming in the long term, he did not keep back enough cash reserve to make it through the lean times that followed the stock market crash of the late-1920s, Sexton said. “Rather than allow the farms to be foreclosed upon, the four Stumpf brothers who were farming in the area helped their dad by assuming his mortgages on their farms.” On Sept. 22, 1931, Stumpf transferred a farm to his son, Alex, who was Sexton’s grandfather. When Alex Stumpf moved to this farm, he was single and lived with the hired man and his family. Stumpf later married Regina

Sexton Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 4th township: twin Lakes Acres: 240 Awarded: 2011

-Contributed photo

THIS reCeNT aerIaL shot shows Keith and Barb sexton’s farm, which is northwest of rockwell City. Peiffer, and the couple reared six daughters on the farm. “Dad wanted us to be ladies, so he had a hired man do the chores,” recalled Mary, Sexton’s mother, who was born on the farm shortly after her parents built their new house in 1926. “I helped my mother with the gardening and canning.” After she married a local farmer, Dale Sexton, the couple lived and farmed near Sherwood. When her parents retired from farming, the Sextons and their young family moved to the farm. From kindergarten through second grade, Keith Sexton attended the country school — Twin Lakes No. 5 — that was located across the

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

daLe aNd Mary sexton, left, said they are pleased their son, Keith, and his wife, Barb, both on right, have carried on the family’s farming tradition road just east of the family’s farm, the same school his mother attended as a child. “I remember the older boys would come over to our farm every day to pump the water that we used at school,” Sexton said. He graduated from Rockwell City High School in 1967. Growing up on the farm was an education in itself, Sexton said. “Sometimes when Dad was working in the field, Grandpa Stumpf would come out, and I would walk around the farmstead with him while he pointed out which year the various corn cribs and other buildings were built.”

350 tractor that his father purchased new from a dealer in Rockwell City. He also has the wagon that was used to harvest the crops at that time. “When they picked corn in the ear, they increased the wagon’s height with sideboards and pulled the wagon behind the picker to catch the ears that came out of the machine,” Sexton said. “In the drought year of 1956, two wagons like this were enough to hold a full day’s worth of harvest.” This equipment is quite a contrast to Sexton’s newest tractor, which features the latest technology. “It’s like my cell phone in that Decades of change it has more features than I’ve Sexton, who started farming in learned how to use,” Sexton joked. 1979, still owns a 1957 Farmall He’s a past president of the

Calhoun County Farm Bureau and past president of the Iowa Corn Growers Association. Sexton and his wife, Barb, are glad that they’ve had the opportunity to rear their three children — daughter Kyle, 27; son Brian, 26; and son Brent, 20 — on the farm. After the family received its Century Farm award in 2011, it hosted a celebration in early September for nearly 400 guests. “This farm has been good to our family for 100 years,” Sexton said. “If our children choose to make this farm a part of their life, we will work with them to accomplish that goal.” Contact darcy dougherty maulsby by e-mail at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Carroll County

Grotes recall 1940s, 1950s farm life By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer CARROLL — For the Grote family, growing up on a farm between Breda and Mt. Carmel meant hard work, simple pleasures and strong family ties. “I was one of 13 kids,” said Jack Grote, of Carroll, who was born in 1934. “While we lived about nine miles from Carroll, we hardly ever went there, because most of our life revolved around the farm.” That had been true ever since Grote’s grandfather, Ben Grote, purchased the farm in 1907 and moved his family there when his own father, Herman Grote, was 8. The Grotes maintained their ethnic heritage, Jack Grote said, who can recall the older generation speaking German when they didn’t want the children to know everything they were saying. Life on the farm followed many traditional ways, as well. Grote recalled that there were about six families in the local threshing ring. “I liked the big meals at threshing time,” he said. “The women would have homemade pie and everything, and the fried chicken didn’t come from KFC.” After the threshing season was over, the Grotes got together with the Rettenmiers, Luchtels, Vonnahmes and other neighbors for a picnic at Black Hawk Lake, where children enjoyed swimming. “South of the ballroom there was a slide that dumped you into the lake, which was always fun,”

Grote Century Farm Established: 1907 Generations: 3rd township: Kneist Acres:160 Awarded: 2008 Grote said. This end-of-summer ritual provided a brief break before school started in the fall. When Grote attended Mt. Carmel High School in the late 1940s and early 1950s, Catholic nuns taught the classes, including the manual training course for agriculture. “We were taught to pick the biggest ears of corn to keep for seed next year,” Grote said, who graduated in 1952. Grote can remember when farmers checked-rowed their corn, and everything was 40 inches apart. A good yield meant 70 to 75 bushels per acre. He said he grew up picking corn by hand. “One time a neighbor pulled up into the field across the road with a corn picker and a wagon. The end gate on the wagon was open, though, and the corn flew out the back. I’ll never forget Dad saying, ‘I’ll still take mine by hand.’” Herman Grote did invest in some of the latest equipment, however. In 1941, he purchased a new Farmall B for $695 from a dealer in Carroll, said Grote, whose family still owns this tractor. Another major investment

-Farm News photo Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

JaCk aNd dOreeN grote own two Century farms in Carroll County, one in Kneist township and one in roselle township. occurred in 1955, when Herman Grote purchased the Century Farm for $250 an acre. Everyone pitched in with chores around the farm, noted Alice Grote Hamilton, of Jefferson. She and her sisters helped their mother, Colette, gather eggs, clean the cream separator, render lard, assist

with gardening and canning, and wash laundry using a wringer washer. Colette Grote was also a 4-H leader for many years, Hamilton said, who was a member of the Maple River Top Notchers 4-H Club. “Going to the Carroll County Fair in Coon Rapids was the high-

light of the year,” Hamilton said. She said she enjoyed the midway rides and games. As the children grew older, the boys found ways to make extra money. Jack Grote and his older brother, Norbert, nicknamed “Fiddle,” had a cattle chute and dehorned cattle for farmers in Carroll and Crawford counties. They also sheared sheep for farmers throughout the area. Some family members, like Grote’s brother, Jim, moved away from rural Iowa. While Jim reared his family in Phoenix, Ariz., his son, Jeff Grote, always enjoyed returning to Iowa to visit the family farm. About five years ago, he and his wife, Melanie, and their three children moved to the farm, which now includes three wind turbines that were built in the area four years ago. Today, the family’s Century Farm is operated by Rick Grote, a territory manager for Pfizer Animal Health; Mike Grote, who works for Farner-Bocken, in Carroll; and a nephew, Pat O’Rourke. There’s a sense of pride in owning Century Farms, said Jack Grote’s wife, Doreen, who grew up on a Carroll County Century Farm in Roselle Township, where her great-grandfather, John Pietig, purchased 240 acres in 1906. “We think of how hard our families worked to maintain these farms, and we’re glad that we can carry on the tradition.” Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Cerro Gordo County

Still owns 100 of original 200 acres By CLAYTON RYE Farm News staff writer MESERVEY â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Fred Sprau moved from his birth place in Illinois and bought the Sprau Century Farm in 1907 in Grimes Township in Cerro Gordo County. Originally, it was 200 acres, but 100 acres of it remain today in the family hands of Scott and Jenee Sprau, and Scottâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sister, Pam Carlson, and her husband, Bob Carlson. Fred Sprau had 12 children. Sterling Sprau, Scott Sprauâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s father, was the tenth child. The farm was bought by Sterling Sprau and three of his siblings. Sterling Sprau was born in 1921 in the farm house that stands today and died in the same house in 1990. Scott and Jenee Sprau moved into the family farm house in 1991. An accident caused the original barn to burn down in 1970. Many of the 12 Sprau children remained in the area. Scott Sprau remembers growing up with â&#x20AC;&#x153;a lot of cousins.â&#x20AC;? Sprau said the farm had cattle and hogs when he was growing up. It still has 12 beef cows and he feeds their calves. When she was growing up near by, Jenee Sprau recalls her father talking of the days when children created their own entertainment. He would set a purse on a gravel road attaching to a string. He would hang on to the string while hiding in the ditch. A car would pass by and see the purse lying in the road. The car

Sprau Century Farm Established: 1907 Generations: 3rd township: Grimes Acres: 100 Awarded: 2011

-Farm News photo by Clayton Rye -Contributed photo

Fred SPrau unloads corn into a corn crib on the sprau Century farm. the photo is undated.

PaM CarLSON, left, with Jenee and scott sprau stand next to a few head of scott sprauâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cattle. Beef animals have had a long presence on the farm.

out of sight. When the car went back and forth trying to find the purse seen on the road. Jenee Sprau decided to try that would stop, and as it was backing herself to see if it still worked. It up, he would pull the on the string, did. pulling the purse into the ditch and Pam and Bob Carlson live near

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friday, June 22, 2012

Cherokee County

Celebrating the Wester way of life By DOUG CLOUGH Farm News staff writer CLEGHORN — It could have all ended with World War I. Bachelor farmer Elmer Wester, when his draft number came up, sold all of his cattle and machinery at auction and prepared to do his part for America. He leased the farm for a year and waited for his orders to arrive ... and waited. As the war ended before his deployment, Wester never went to Europe, so he worked for the farmer who leased his land for the year-long period of the lease. Then he bought cattle and machinery back and continued to farm. The Wester farm lineage would not end with Elmer, nor the next three generations for that matter. In 1888, Gustav Andersson — Elmer’s father — came from Sweden and, like so many other immigrants of the time, had his name changed to lessen the number of certain last names coming from overseas. Wester was taken from his Swedish city of descent, Vestergotland. Gustav and Alfreida Wester had six children. Family assumptions think the Westers were multi-commodity farmers, purchasing the original 240 acres of the farm on March 1, 1911. The couple lived two miles east and a mile north of the current homestead. Elmer and Mabel Wester were the first in two Wester-farming categories. They began a cattle and calving operation that exists today;

Wester Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Liberty Acres: 560 Awarded: 2011 and they were the first to live in a house on the farm. The farm home was built in1872. Elmer and Mabel Wester also raised hogs and chickens. The Westers were also grain farmers, feeding his crops to livestock. Life was good for the farmer who was ready to call it quits, but didn’t have to, for his country. Elmer and Mabel married on March 25, 1920. After all eight children were born, the couple considered tearing down the house and building new. Instead, the house was refurbished, provided with a small basement and became the home of son Venon Wester when he married. Vernon Wester became the family’s third generation owner. Like his father, Wester was a cattleman and grain farmer. He farmed with his brother Dale Wester, for a few years. Vernon’s son, Eric Wester, remembers his own youth on the farm well: “Every kernel of his corn went to our cattle, and that wasn’t enough. We would haul a 300-bushel truckload of corn from town every day and two loads on Saturday.” Vernon Wester was well-known

-Farm News photo by Doug Clough

erIC WeSTer and his sister Joanne wester Petersen stand outside the family’s barn, which has seen many cattle over the years. for finishing more than 2,000 head of cattle yearly. Cattle trucks came and left every week to haul live beef to market. Daughter Joanne Petersen also remembers milk cows and chickens. “Our mom (Ruby) would take the cash from milk and egg sales and turn it into the groceries that we didn’t provide for ourselves,” Petersen said. “Sometimes on Mondays, our dad would ship cattle by rail or truck to Chicago,” said Eric Wester. “On one particular visit to Chicago, he topped the market. “When he got home, he went straight to the school, where our mom worked as a nurse, to tell her. Later, Mom said, ‘I never wanted a

Cadillac, but if I did, that would have been the day to ask for it!’” So now the fourth generation — Verdene Salem, Joanne Petersen and Eric Wester — works on and manages the land. Salem, and her husband Dan, live in Carroll. Petersen and her husband, Gene, live on the farmstead home that is now approaching its sesquicentennial mark. Eric Wester and wife Sara will soon be moving into the home which was built for Vernon and Ruby Westers’ retirement in 1995. Last summer, the trio hosted “Westerfest” a celebration of the Wester way-of-life — a way that continues today. Eric Wester farms the land. “I

earned an animal science degree in the early ’80s,” Wester said. “After working as a product manager at Harker’s Distribution in Le Mars, I decided to go from helping out on the farm on evenings and weekends to farming full-time.” Wester has been downsizing his cow-calf herd ever since “the Lord has given good grain prices.” He farms corn, beans and some alfalfa with help from his high school freshman son, Chris Wester. “We’ve always been people of strong faith in the Lord. We’ve been very blessed and that’s not by accident.” Contact Doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.


friday, June 22, 2012

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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friday, June 22, 2012

Clay County

Hegels remain rooted to the land By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer PETERSON — From a preacher to a farmer to an implement dealer, the story of Tom and Mary Jo Hegel’s Century Farm reflects the history of this northwest Iowa family. “My family helped start the Maple Grove Church of God years ago,” said Mary Jo Hegel, whose grandfather, Louis Batcheler, a Church of God preacher, paid $90 an acre for 160 acres of Clay Township land in 1911. Batcheler’s daughter, Lucy, was born on the farm in 1914, in the same house where her daughter, Mary Jo Hegel, now lives. In 1933, when Lucy Batcheler was engaged to be married to Ted Kosta from Hartley, the Clay County Fair provided a memorable setting for their Sept. 23 wedding. “During the depths of the Depression, there was a wedding promotion to get people to come to the fair,” Hegel said. Her parents were chosen to win this promotion. “Local merchants donated everything, from the wedding dress to the flowers to the gifts, and my parents had quite a crowd for their wedding at the grandstand.” By 1948, the Kostas moved their young family to the farm where Lucy Batcheler grew up, Hegel said, who was 5 years old at the time. Ted Kosta raised crops, cattle, hogs and chickens, and there were always plenty of chores to do. Hegel and her younger sister, Pat Kosta, helped with field work, from cultivating to haying.

Hegel Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Clay Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011

-Contributed photos

Mary JO Kosta Hegel and her younger sister, Pat, helped their father, ted, with the field work. “I liked growing up on the farm, because I loved being outdoors and experiencing all the seasons in the country,” Hegel said, who graduated from Sutherland High School in 1961. When Hegel’s parents retired in 1975, she and her husband moved to the farm. “I took a lot of razzing when I first started farming in Iowa, because my rows of corn weren’t planted straight,” Tom Hegel said, who had grown up on a North Dakota wheat and cattle ranch. The Hegels will never forget the violent hailstorm that hit their area on July 7, 1977. “It destroyed everything, but 40 acres of corn,” Mary Jo Hegel said, who noted that her father had always said the

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

TOM aNd Mary JO Hegel live on the Century farm where she grew up and are glad their family could be part of the Century farm award ceremony at the 2011 iowa state fair. farm wasn’t in a hail zone. Since the couple had no hail insurance, they were grateful that a neighbor, Muriel Paulson, sold them corn to feed their hogs and gave them a year to work off the debt. “We bought hail insurance after that,” she said. In those years, corn was selling for about $2 a bushel, Tom Hegel said. He sold Crow’s seed corn.

When his crop yielded 200 bushels per acre in 1981, he received a large trophy for this noteworthy accomplishment. Around that time, the Hegels decided to expand the swine side of their business into a 60-sow, farrow-to-finish operation. Tom Hegel became president of the Clay County Pork Producers Association, and Mary Jo Hegel

served as president of the county Porkettes organization. The couple helped established the Chop Shop restaurant, which has been a Clay County institution for 30 years. In 1984, the Hegels moved in new directions when they purchased an existing Allis Chalmers dealership in Everly. Interest rates were skyrocketing in those days, Tom Hegel said, who remembered how the Federal Land Bank’s rates pushed 20 percent. Fortunately, the dealership, which is now known as Corn Belt Equipment, survived the farm crisis of the 1980s, Mary Jo Hegel said, who was the bookkeeper for many years. There were also some perks from running a dealership, Hegel said they were among the first farmers in his area to have a global positioning unit and yield monitor in his farm equipment. Corn Belt Equipment continues to be a family-run business for the Hegels, who farmed until the early 1990s, when they began leasing their farmland. The Hegels continue help out their children who operate the dealership, and the couple says it appreciated the opportunity to live and farm in northwest Iowa. Mary Jo Hegel credits her husband for playing a key role in their Century Farm. “If he hadn’t wanted to farm, we might not have been able to keep the land in the family,” she said. “Getting a Century Farm award was always a goal of mine, and it means a lot to us.” Contact darcy dougherty maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Crawford County

Five sisters oversee farm’s production By DOUG CLOUGH Farm News staff writer VAIL — When Andrew Gallagher purchased 160 acres of land with brothers Patrick and William, he did so with the blessing and watchful eye of his mother, Mary Ann Gallagher. The year was 1911 and the boys’ father passed away seven years previously. It was a time in American history when many women who lost a husband would remarry out of financial need, but not Mary Ann Gallagher. “She must have been one of the most modern women of her time,” said great-granddaughter Cecelia Thelen. And it’s a statement that is difficult to refute. After all, Thelen said, it was a good nine years before women were even allowed to vote in America. “Our great-grandmother was certainly a great business person and banker” she said. “She raised Andrew, Patrick and William to carry on as competent farmers and two more sons, Vince and Emment, to be successful in the mercantile trade. “Her daughter, Marie, remained single and was a school teacher, while daughter Anna married and raised a family.” As Gallagher’s boys grew, married and had families, the land ownership changed. Andrew Gallagher maintained his ownership of the north 80. He and his sons were known for breeding and selling purebred Hereford cattle on his “Bluegrass 80.” Signs for Gallagher Brothers’

Gallagher Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Hayes Acres: 80 Awarded: 2011 sales boasted that their bulls had sired cattle in seven states — Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Louisiana, Colorado and Arkansas. Third-generation owners, and sisters, Cecelia Thelen, of Vail; Margie Nagl, of Maple River; Mary Wulf, of Omaha; Phyllis Poggensee, of Deloit; and Geri Ricke, of Westside, still refer to their 80-acre parcel as the Bluegrass 80. “I’m 72-years-old,” Thelen said. “Our 80 acres has been bluegrass for as long as I’ve been alive at least.” Andrew Gallagher, the sisters’ grandfather, married Margaret O’Boyle in 1908 and had sons, including the girls’ father, Lawrence, and one daughter, Lillian. Gallagher‘s sons found that the Bluegrass 80 continued to fill the need for grass to support the large purebred herd their grandfather and uncles had began. “Our Aunt Lillian was (in) all of our hearts and souls,” Thelen said. “She took care of our grandparents and uncles and never married. She taught us to cook,

-Farm News staff writer

CeCeLIa THeLeN looks through a number of scrap books she's organized regarding their family's history. thelen not only enjoys tracking her lineage, she puts books like this together for family members when they turn 16. sew and make our own clothes.” Lawrence Gallagher married Bernadette Siegner in 1939. The couple had seven daughters and two sons, including the five modern day proprietors of the land. “Today, we remember the three generations in order, quite easily,” Thelen said with a smile — “Gallagher brothers, Gallagher brothers and Lilian, and now Gallagher sisters.” Thelen still remembers her

father’s active farming days. “Our dad was raking hay in his early 80s,” Thelen said. “I remember him pulling himself up on a tractor with his cane.” Kevin Ricke currently farms the land, continuing to keep all aspects of the farm with family. In 2007, the last of the Andrew and Margaret Gallagher children passed away; at that time, the Bluegrass 80 was deeded to the granddaughters. Geri

and Kevin Ricke have a commercial herd of cattle from which they sell bulls, heifers and perform 4-H projects; however, the five sisters have converted the 80 acres to crop production — corn and soybeans. “We continue to keep the land in the family both in ownership and who farms it,” Thelen said. Contact doug Clough at douglasclough@gmail.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Dallas County

Owning a piece of ‘God’s ground’ By DAVE DEVALOiS Farm News staff writer PERRY — Esther Brooks has a pretty good idea why she’s still living well and enjoying life at age 93. She attributes it to her hard work from 50 years of living and working on the farm. “God made me strong then so I could be 93 now,” Brooks said. When she lived on the farm with her husband, Nace Brooks, she took care of 300 chickens. “My son says I’d lift 5-gallon pails of feed in both hands.” Esther Brooks grew up on a farm in Boone County. She spent many years away from the farm life after graduating from Perry High School, going to college at American Institute of Business in Des Moines and then marrying a young soldier, who headed out for duty within weeks of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and the United States’ official entry into WWII. After the war ended, Esther Brooks followed her husband to multiple stateside Army posts for several years before landing back in central Iowa on farmland her father gave them in Boone and Dallas counties. The main farm, with the farmhouse, barn and Other outbuildings were in Boone County along Highway 144 north of Perry, and they also had a small parcel in Dallas County near Woodward that had fertile cropland, but buildings. It was that Dallas County parcel that became a Century Farm in 2011. The Boone County farm

Brooks Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Beaver Acres: 90 Awarded: 2011 will reach the century mark in a few years. Esther Brooks said it is a privilege to have worked the ground and to continue to own it today. “Not everyone gets to own God’s esther ground,” she said. Brooks “It means a lot to have some of God’s wonderful earth. “I’m proud that my family would give back and try to keep it going and improving.” She said her family followed sound conservation methods, like crop rotation and grassed waterways, even if it meant getting a little less income from the fields. “You don’t get money out of (grassed) waterways, but it takes care of the soil. It’s to your advantage to take care of God’s green earth,” she said.

-Contributed photo

eSTHer aNd NaCe Brooks lived on this farm in Boone County, just north of Perry, but also owned and worked acres in dallas County, near woodward. the dallas County land was deemed a Century farm in 2011.

extensively in the Army, even though Nace had never been trained as a farmer or lived on a farm. “He didn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps (as a mortician),” she said. “A farmer is his own boss. He’d been in the service long enough and had people telling him what to do all the time.” Brooks said her father made a pledge to her to teach Nace everything he would need to know to be a successful farmer. “And he did make a farmer out of that boy,” she said. In the early years, they both worked full time on the farm and divided the duties. “I raised chickens and had the garden. Nace raised the cattle and hogs and the corn and beans.” Esther Brooks said she raised as Back to farm life many as 300 laying hens, which Esther Brooks said her husband she bought as chicks. She always was ready to settle down, live and intended to buy only hens. work on a farm after traveling “Sometimes there would be some

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roosters mixed in there, but I knew what to do with them. I was a farm girl. So, I’d cut off their heads and pluck the feathers, and we’d eat them for dinner,” she said. Esther Brooks had a route in Perry where she sold her eggs. “I was known as the egg lady,” she said. Brooks said town people could easily have purchased their eggs from the market, but they knew they were getting a better product from her. “They never paid me any more that they’d pay in the market, but they know they were fresher, less than a week old,” she said. Known as the egg lady, she made friends that lasted generations throughout the Perry area. Children of her former customers still visit her today, she said. Esther and Nace Brooks later raised 10 dairy cows and made a habit of naming each one. “I’m not sure why it was we did

that … but one would be Maude and another Dorothy. We called that first baby Surprise because she was.” The milk was picked up daily and taken to the town of Slater in 10-gallon cans. Esther did the milking twice daily. “He didn’t know how to milk a cow,” she said. She learned the “rhythm of milking a cow,” as a child. Esther and Nace Brooks worked on the farm for 50 years. In the later years, Nace started working for the postal service, first as a substitute mail carrier and then full time. By that time, they had sold the livestock and grew only row crops. Later, they rented the cropland to a nephew, who continues to farm that cropland today. Nace Brooks passed away in 2000 and Esther remained on the farm until 2004, when she moved into Perry. Contact dave deValois at dwdevalois@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Dickinson County

time, memories bind them to the land By KAREN SCHWALLER Farm News staff writer ESTHERVILLE — Dan and Diane Perkins live in the house that his great-grandparents built during the 1920s. The house has changed over the years, the farm has changed, but the strong family ties that bind them to the land remain strong. “It’s cool that we are the fourth generation to own (this land),” said Dan Perkins. “I feel like we have accomplished something here. We have made a big deal out of (the Century Farm status) because it was something that was so important to my dad.” Though the farm holds an Emmet County address, it’s located in the northwest quarter of section 24 of Richland Township, near Superior, so it actually sits within the Dickinson County boundaries. It was May 10, 1911, when Benjamin and Anna Perkins, Dan Perkins’ great-grandparents, purchased an 80-acre tract for less than $100 per acre that would later to be known as “the east 80.” In October 1939, Robert and Gertrude Perkins, Dan Perkins’s grandparents, purchased what would become known as “the west 80” from Charles and Edith Lewis. The estate of Benjamin Perkins transferred the east 80 to Anna Perkins in October 1951. There is no recorded bill of sale or real estate contract between Anna Perkins and Robert and Gertrude Perkins, according to Dan Perkins. “Everyone remembers it differently,” he said.

Perkins Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 4th township: Richland Acres: 80 Awarded: 2011 However, in January 1964, a warranty deed was issued for the east 80 acres, transferring it from Anna Perkins to Robert and Gertrude Perkins. Harry and JoAnn Perkins, Dan’s parents, purchased the east 80 from Robert and Gertrude Perkins in January 1969. Then in March 1978, Dan Perkins and his mother, JoAnn Perkins, purchased the west 80 from Robert Perkins. It was New Year’s Eve 1988 when Dan and his wife, Diane, purchased his mother’s interest in the west 80. In 1990, they purchased the acreage from his parents. In December 2001, Dan and Diane purchased the remaining 68 acres of the east 80 from his parents, and are now sole owners of the tract. “The farm doesn’t look anything like it did when (the Perkins family) moved there in 1969,” Dan Perkins said. “It’s the same house, but it’s been remodeled, and we added a garage. And the old corn crib was remodeled into a shop building in the early 1970s and the barn is gone now.” Perkins said that much of the

-Farm News photo by Karen Schwaller

daN aNd dIaNe Perkins said they are proud their family has kept the family farm intact for 100 years. old grove was torn down and replaced. His father built a Butler machine shed in the early 1970s, and Perkins built a Morton truck shop in 2005 to store his family’s transport business vehicles. The Perkins rented the farm in 2002 to solidify that Esthervillebased transport business, which they had been doing for several year. For the generations of Perkins family members, life’s always been about the farm. “My dad has fond memories of running over there to see his

grandparents,” Perkins said, adding that over the years, Benjamin and Anna Perkins lived on the east 80, and Robert and Gertrude Perkins lived on the west 80. “They spent a lot of time together fishing and doing chores together,” Perkins said. “He often lived with them because there were eight kids in a two-bedroom house there.” Perkins said he started farming straight out of high school, and that his grandfather was an important role model, teaching him how

to farm. “I got started farming with my grandfather,” he said. “He farmed the ground because my dad worked in Estherville. My grandfather was as much involved in helping me learn to drive a tractor as my dad was.” The Perkins have three sons, and right now they’re not sure if any of them will want to farm. So they wonder if there will be a fifth generation of Perkins to continue owning the acreage, plus 160 acres of land that has been in the family for the last century. As the Century Farm year approached, the Perkins families contributed anecdotes for a memory book and a recipes for a cook book. JoAnn Perkins compiled and distributed the books, which will serve as lasting remembrances for future Perkins generations. Until then, the Perkins family celebrates the tenacity, hard work and true grit that lies behind the making of a Century Farm. And for some family members especially, its meaning goes right to the core. “We couldn’t wait until 2011 came,” said Dan Perkins. “We spent 10 years getting ready for this. We made a huge thing out of it because of what the Century Farm status meant to my dad — because of the time he spent with his grandpa, growing up on the farm. “Dad said to me once, ‘I’m glad I lived long enough to see this.’” Contact Karen schwaller kscwaller@evertek.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Emmet County

3rd generation keeps farm going By KAREN SCHWALLER Farm New staff writer GRAETTINGER — Tucked between winding paved roads that outline some small lakes around Emmet County, lies the pristine farm home of David and Delaine Jacobson. Located in High Lake Township, their Century Farm is just a handful of miles northeast of Graettinger, and was established in 1910. While it has been in the Jacobson family for 100 years as of 2010, the family was recognized for the award at a ceremony in Des Moines in 2011. It was David Jacobson’s grandparents, Baste and Gudve Jacobson, who came from Norway and purchased the 160-acre tract from a previous owner. Records show that they purchased the farm for a grand total of $6,055, which amounts to $37.25 per acre. This cost included a 2.5acre lot on Ingham Lake, 2 miles north of the farm. They built a large, square clayblock house in 1920 and reared eight of their 10 surviving children there. The current Jacobson family lives in the same house. “The basement was dug with horse and scraper bucket, which my dad also had a hand in,” Jacobson said of his father, Blanchard Jacobson. The house had a generator in the basement, as well as an indoor toilet, also in the basement. A second toilet was added to the upstairs during the 1950s.

Jacobson Century Farm Established: 1910 Generations: 3rd township: High Lake Acres: 160 Awarded: 2010 As with many rural people then, they got hooked up to electricity through the Rural Electric Association in 1947. Gudve Jacobson died in 1929, leaving Baste with eight children to rear. Baste returned to Norway two years later to marry again and brought his new wife, Aletta, to Graettinger to his farm. Blanchard and Lily Jacobson were married in March 1936. The following year they moved to the farm, while Baste and Aletta built a small house on the lot near Ingham Lake. In 1937, a tornado took the barn, garage and brooder house. The barn was replaced that same year. The Jacobsons purchased the farm in 1946 at a cost of $23,000, or $143 per acre. They reared three sons there. A daughter died at the age of 3 from meningitis. Blanchard and Lily Jacobson retired in 1974, and David and Delaine began farming in 1975. Before that, Jacobson spent four years in the U.S. Air Force, and had then been living and working in the Minneapolis, Minn., area. He and Delaine, who had never

-Farm News photo by Karen Schwaller

daVId aNd deLaINe Jacobson's farm features a house built in 1920, along with a machine shed, which the couple put up in their time on the farm. lived on a farm before, had two children by the time they moved back to Jacobson’s childhood home in Graettinger. Delaine Jacobson said she wasn’t sure about farm life to begin with, but she had grown to enjoy it. She has many “great memories” of her rural Iowa life, having now lived equally as many years as a “city girl,” as she has a “country girl.” They purchased the farm from his parents’ estate in 1994. Its value per acre at that time was approximately $1,600 per acre. David Jacobson said that of the nine children in his grandfather’s family, Blanchard was the only one who chose to remain on the farm and pass down the farming heritage. There used to be a corn crib, hog house and chicken house on the farm, which are not there today.

Blanchard built a new corn crib during his time on the farm. “We milked cows when I was a kid,” Jacobson said. “We had four horses, and Dad used them to farm part of the time.” The Jacobsons tore down two chicken houses and replaced them with a large machine shed, in order to accommodate contemporary farm machinery needs. The family raised hogs from 1975 until 2001. They still raise corn, soybeans and oats. As the Jacobsons recall events on the farm that stand out to them, their memories don’t dwell as much in the place itself, but on the people who surrounded them in their times of need over the years. David Jacobson endured a liver transplant in May 1988. “No one thought I would survive. I managed to get my anhydrous on (by myself), but the

neighbors planted our crop that year, and I was able to help them harvest,” he said with softness in his voice. “I was in the hospital for two months that year.” Then in June 2001, he underwent a kidney transplant. His new kidney came from his wife. “We wondered for a long time if he was going to hang on because of his health problems,” said Delaine, adding that once again, the neighbors were there to help with whatever they needed on the farm. Their family consists of a daughter, Jodi and her husband, Wes, and three children, of Owatonna, Minn.; and three sons — Joel, who farms with David; Jason and his wife, Dana, and two children, of Emmetsburg, and Josh and his daughter, of Graettinger. Among the Jacobson family’s fourth generation, it’s Joel who is looking to assume the reigns of the farm when the time comes. It means a lot to his parents to know that someone in the family will be able to carry on family farm heritage. “It’s good to know that (the land) will most likely stay in the same family,” Jacobson said, adding that the 160-acre tract has been purchased three times by Jacobson family members over the years. “Joel will probably be the next,” she said, musing at the wonder of how much money is paid for farm land over the life of the land. Contact Karen schwaller kwschwaller@evertek.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

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friday, June 22, 2012

Franklin County

Farm endured Depression era By CLAYTON RYE Farm News staff writer HAMPTON — Art and Shirley Rodemeyer live on the Rodemeyer Century Farm of 290 acres in Reeve Township of Franklin County. Art Rodemeyer tells of his greatgreat grandfather, Henry Rodemeyer, arriving from Germany at 14. When the Civil War began, Henry Rodemeyer enlisted, was mustered out and re-enlisted. With the money he earned from being mustered out twice, he returned to Germany and brought his brothers and sisters back to America. Rodemeyer then farmed in Cook County, Illinois, near Chicago when “Chicago was the size of Mason City,” Art Rodemeyer said. The family moved to Waterloo and later to Franklin County. Henry Rodemeyer had a son, D.H. Rodemeyer, who had two sons. One of his sons was Otto, Art Rodemeyer’s father. The Century Farm was bought in

rodemeyer Century Farm Established: 1908 Generations: 3rd township: Reeve Acres: 290 Awarded: 2011 1908. Out of the 290 acres, 166 acres is crop ground with the rest of the farm in timber. It is situated near a creek standing in contrast with its rolling nature to the predominantly flat farmland of Franklin County. Art Rodemeyer was born on the Century Farm in 1924. His parents moved there when they married in 1922. The farm had a barn and corn crib that were built in 1913 and a house that was built in 1914. “Dad started with nothing,” Art Rodemeyer said. By 1926 everything was paid for, but the Great

-Farm News photo by Clayton Rye

arT aNd SHIrLey rodemeyer pose on the Century farm with the original barn in the background. Depression made it tough, so at age 9, Art Rodemeyer became his father’s hired man. In 1938 the farm was wired for electricity for $300, using a generator and batteries. That fall the Rodemeyers lost three horses to

sleeping sickness, ushering the farm into the age of tractors, although the expense created additional hardships. With the farm’s lower productivity and nearly half the farm under timber, Art Rodemeyer said, “I’ve

-Contributed photos

LeFT — art rodemeyer’s father was cultivating with horses when this picture was taken. the family farm house occupied by the rodemeyer’s today is on the right side. rIGHT — Harvesting loose hay on the rodemeyer Century farm. the date and people on this photo are not known.

 









worked my butt off.” Art Rodemeyer’s mother continued living in the house after his father died. Art and Shirley Rodemeyer lived in a mobile home on the farm during his mother’s remaining 20 years. Meanwhile Art and Shirley reared a family. The Rodemeyers are parents to Mike and Ron, both living in Texas, working for Southwest Airlines. Their daughter, Karen, lives in Parkersburg, and daughter Debbie lives in nearby Latimer. The Rodemeyers have seven grandchildren and have a photo frame with pictures of their greatgrandchildren. In spite of the farm being a struggle for the Rodemeyers, Art Rodemeyer looks at his family and says, “I am a wealthy man.” Contact Clayton rye at crye@wctatel.net.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Greene County

Clarks boast Century, Heritage Farms By DARCY DOuGHERtY MAuLSBY Farm News staff writer SCRANTON — When John Clark’s great-great-grandfather Dr. Lucius Howard purchased 80 acres of Greene County land in 1856, Mormons were heading west across Iowa to Salt Lake City, James Buchanan was elected president, and the Civil War was still five years away. While Howard intended to move his family from Ohio to Iowa, this dream ended with his premature death in 1860. The opportunity to go west still appealed to Howard’s daughter, Carrie Howard, however. When she became engaged to Leander Kinsey, the young couple decided to build their future in Iowa. Howard waited in Ohio while Kinsey lived in a sod house in Greene County and started building a farmstead on the Iowa prairie. He was assisted by his father, Ulysses Kinsey, a carpenter by trade, who had moved to Grand Junction in 1869. In 1871, Kinsey and Howard married and moved into the new farm house. “These pioneers saw all the changes occur as Greene County turned into one of the rich agricultural districts of Iowa,” Clark said, who grew up on his family’s farm northeast of Dana. The Kinseys, who reared five children on the farm, were strong supporters of the local community. Leander became a charter member of the Junction Masonic Lodge and was instrumental in establishing the Dana Presbyterian Church, while Carrie provided music les-

Clark Heritage Farm Established: 1856 Generations: 5th township: North Jackson Acres: 80 Awarded: 2011 sons to local students. After the Kinseyes’ son, Rex Kinsey, married Hope Haseltine, from Grand Junction, the couple built a new farmhouse around 1920, where they reared their two children, Phyllis and Lea. Tragedy struck the family years later after Phyllis’ husband, Jay Clark, enlisted in the U.S. Army and died of hepatitis complications at the close of World War II. By that time, Jay and Phyllis Clark had three children, including John, who was 11 when his father passed away. When Phyllis Clark inherited her family’s farm in 1950, she moved her children from Dana to the country and rented out the farmland. “While I missed my dad, of course, I didn’t really lose a father, because I had half a dozen father figures while I was growing up,” Clark said. “Whether I was scooping manure, baling hay or fixing fence, I was mentored on a whole philosophy of life by the older generation.” Good friends like Bob Busch, Leroy Anderson and Kent McWilliams, along with Clark’s brother, Jay Clark, kept things interesting. “Starting in 1946, we obtained riding horses and roamed

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THIS BarN aT John and Judy Clark’s farm southeast of scranton was built in 1900 and features mortise-and-tenon joints that connect the beams. the area playing cowboys,” Clark said. He graduated from Dana High School in 1955. “We became as well-known around Dana as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and the gunfight at the OK Corral were in the Old West.” Hatch Century Farm These patterns of rural life were familiar to Clark’s future wife, who was reared on a farm southeast of Scranton. After the couple married, they spent 40 years away from their home area, as John Clark’s career in business develop-

ment took them across the country. A love of the family farm brought the Clarks back to Greene County in 2001, however, and they moved to the farm that Judy’s family has owned since 1894. The Clark’s ornate farm home, which was built in 1907 for $7,000, was one of the most modern houses in the area when it was built, Judy Clark said. It featured gas lighting and running water. In years past, the Hatch farm was also known for its fruit trees and large gardens, which produced raspberries, strawberries and vegetables.

This fresh produce was shipped to buyers as far away as Chicago, Judy Clark said, who noted that the farm became known as the “Hatch Honey Farm” when her father expanded his beekeeping business. “We both treasure the land and are grateful for our ancestors’ hard work,” she said. She helped establish the Barn Quilts of Greene County project in 2005. “We are proud of our rural roots and want to preserve this history.” Contact darcy dougherty maurys at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Hamilton County

Hard work kept farm in the family By KRiSS NELSON Farm News staff writer ELLSWORTH — What looks like random numbers nailed to a large post at the entrance of the Nelson farm near Ellsworth in Hamilton County is actually a list of dates. One of those dates symbolizing the year the farm became a part of this family. “Dad would always point out a date on the fence post and was looking forward to the 100-year mark of the farm,” said Deb Nelson, one of the fourth generation owners of her family’s farm. Her father, Howard Nelson, died

Nelson Century Farm Established: 1910 Generations: 4th township: Lyon Acres: 233 Awarded: 2010 five years short of that milestone. “He didn’t get to see it become a Century Farm,” Nelson said. “Would’ve meant a lot to him. If he could tell me anything, it would be he’s glad we’ve held on to it.”

THe BarN ON the nelson farm near ellsworth in Hamilton County was believed to be built sometime in the 1940s or 1950s.

Hans and Metta Nelson, Deb Nelson’s great-grandparents, came from Denmark, but never met until they were settled in Ellsworth. After being married they bought several other farms, with this 230plus acres being the only one still remaining in the Nelson family. “Really makes me grateful,” Nelson said. “It’s something you take for granted while growing up and then when we hit the 100-year mark, you think about all of the hard work and sacrifice it took to the keep the farm.” When the Nelsons purchased the farm, it is understood the house and some of the outbuildings were already built. Some years later, possibly in the late 1940s or early 1950s, Hans and Metta’s son, Fred Nelson, built a new barn and corn crib, replacing an older barn. The family’s first home is still standing today and one of Deb Nelson’s sisters, Nancy, stays there at times. When Alice and Howard were married, they built a home on the farm, not too far from Howard’s parents — Fred and Gertruse Nelson. “When we started building the house in 1952,” Alice Nelson said, “they still did not have running water, so Howard dug a line over to them.” For more than 40 years, the Nelsons have been in a crop-sharing agreement with the VanLangen family. Currently, Doug VanLangen farms the ground taking over the job from his father, Richard, who first start-

-Farm News photos by Kriss Nelson

deB aNd aLICe nelson said they are proud to be a part of carrying on the legacy of the nelson family’s Century farm near ellsworth in Hamilton County. ed farming for the Nelson family. hopes all of the land stays for “They are wonderful people and awhile, but if it can’t, at least she good to work with,” said Deb has wishes for the homestead to Nelson. remain, owned by Nelsons. “Dad always thought that was “I have grown to appreciate the the fairest way to do business,” land, it’s attractive right now to Deb Nelson said of share-crop- want to sell, but one friend once ping. said, “They don’t make any more The farm consists of more than of this, so you should hold on to 200 acres of tillable land. Across what you have. the road, where the houses stand, “It’s ours to use while we’re is timberland, now owned by the here, and we’re trying to leave it fourth generation, including Deb better than the way we have it Nelson and her siblings Nancy now. I enjoy the upkeep and taking Johnson, Scott Nelson and Metta care of the farm.” Nelson. When it comes to keeping the Contact Kriss nelson at farm in the family, Nelson said she jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Hancock County

Will be farming as long as he can By CLAYTON RYE Farm News staff writer CORWITH — Mervin Krauss lives on the Century Farm of 160 acres in Hancock County’s Magor Township his grandfather Hershbergen bought in 1911. Krauss said the purchase price was $71.25 an acre. His grandfather bought a quarter section of land for each of his four children, including his daughters, one of whom was Krauss’ mother, Edith Hershbergen. His grandparents were living in the granary, while their house was being built, and it was in the granary where his mother was born. Krauss’ grandfather continued living on the farm after his wife died during World War II. An uncle was killed in the war a year after she died. Krauss’ parents, two sisters, and he moved to the farm in 1950 to join his grandfather. Improvements through the years included a 32-volt electrical system that was kept in the pump house, using a gas generator for power. The house had an addition completed in 1955 and a garage was built 15 years ago. The barn is the only original building left. Krauss graduated from Iowa State University in 1972 with a degree in agricultural engineering. In 1974, he returned to the farm to become a farmer. Crops in 1974 included oats and hay, Krauss said. For about 10 years Krauss had 15 to 16 stock cows and farrowed hogs in the hog house.

krauss Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Magor Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011 He said the hogs “were a lot of work” and that he “does miss farrowing the little pigs.” Of farming today, Krauss said, “The hard work isn’t there anymore.” The future of the Krauss Century Farm is not entirely clear. Krauss has a son in Denver, Colo., who is settled and happy there. His sisters have no children of their own, so there are no nieces or nephews that would be interested in taking over the Century Farm. Krauss said he plans to continue farming it as long as he can. Contact Clayton rye at crye@wctatel.net.

-Farm News photo by Clayton Rye

MeLVIN krauSS stands next to the farmall m tractor his dad bought years ago. -Contributed photos

BeLOW LeFT — this aerial view of the Krauss Century farm is similar to how it appears today. Livestock still occupied the barn and hog house. the structure west of the barn has been removed since the picture was taken. BeLOW rIGHT —the only change from this photo and today is that the hog house behind the barn has been removed.

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farm news / fort dodge, iowa

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friday, June 22, 2012

Hardin County

Family cherishes farm, farm life By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer HUBBARD — The love for a Hardin County farm most likely will insure its future. A 109-year-old farm owned by Craig and Jill Miller in Story County is cherished by the entire family, as is the farm life that comes with it. Although the Millers do not live on their Century Farm, their children and grandchildren have a special place to go when visiting the country. “All of the kids love the farm,” Jill Miller said. “They love spending time on the farm. It’s lots of fun for them.” The Millers hope their son, Reece Miller, who farms with them and represents the fifth generation, will value the farm and its way of life to keep the farm in the family for years to come. “With Reece farming with me,” Craig Miller said, “I hope he can continue and keep it going down the line. The Millers received their Century Farm award during summer 2010 at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. Most of the family was present to help celebrate their farm and family. The farm came into the Miller family’s possession in 1903, when Craig’s great-grandfather, Henry Miller, purchased the initial 320acre farm. Henry Miller arrived in America from Germany to meet with his sister who was already living here. He came over at the young age of 14 in order to avoid

Miller Century Farm Established: 1903 Generations: 4th township: Grant Acres: 320 Awarded: 2010

“The biggest changes have been to the farmstead itself. It’s changed a lot since the way it was originally. There used to be 40 acres of pasture at one time which was swampy and since then it’s been tiled and now is being farmed” —Craig Miller Century Farm owner

being sent to serve in the German army. He originally started farming by New Providence owning some timber land. Wanting to be closer -Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson to town, he ended up purchasing CraIG aNd JILL MILLer own and operate the family’s 109what is now the Millers’ legacy year-old farm, along with their son, reece miller, near Hubbard 1.5 miles southeast of Hubbard. in Hardin County. From Henry Miller, the farm was owned by John Miller, who Fred Miller was born and reared children, leaving the opportunity was Craig’s grandfather, then to on the farm, living there until he for Craig’s father, Gene Miller, to Fred Miller, Craig’s great-uncle. had to move to town. He had no purchase the farm in 1971 after

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Fred died. In 2002, Craig and Jill Miller bought the farm. The Millers’ believe a large barn was standing on the site when henry Miller purchased it in 1903. Henry Miller added to the acreage to suit this needs. The barn is still standing, however, the original house is gone, as a newer one was built years ago, Craig Miller said. Although there are plans to possibly sell off a portion of the acreage, Craig and Jill Miller said they will continue to keep farming his family’s farm. Miller recalls stories of his grandfather building fence. The same fence he was working on recently. One day while John Miller was building fence, he watched a mother mink taking her babies to higher ground. Shortly after, he heard a load roar, looked up and saw the pasture he was working in was flooding. He took flight in a horse and buggy, Craig Miller said, and almost didn’t make it out in time. Miller said the changes to the Century Farm’s acreage are most likely the biggest changes to the farm over the years. “The biggest changes have been to the farmstead itself,” Miller said. “It’s changed a lot since the way it was originally. “There used to be 40 acres of pasture at one time which was swampy and since then it’s been tiled and now is being farmed.” Contact Kriss nelson jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Humboldt County

Farm tailor-made for family By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer HARDY — The founder of a Century Farm in Humboldt County wasn’t brought up to necessarily be a farmer, but was trained in a completely different trade. M.J. Sandven, grandfather to Gilbert Sandven, who is also the current owner of the farm, learned the trade of a tailor. “M.J. came from Norway when he was 17,” said Sandven. “His sister was married and already living over here. “He worked on their farm to pay them back for his ticket over here. He was actually trained as a tailor but liked farming better and started buying land when he could.” The 100-year-old farm, of which Sandven is currently the third generation owner, wasn’t the first piece of land owned by his grandfather. “He actually bought some land before with his brother-in-law, but sold that and starting buying land on his own,” said Sandven. Sandven gradually assumed ownership by buying out parts held by family members, especially from his father’s estate. Sandven said he’s proud to be the third generation owner and is especially pleased to see his grandson, Tyler Sandven, the fifth generation to farm the land. “It’s very sentimental to me,” Sandven said. “I took a risk in buying it piece by piece. “The saying always goes the first generation buys it, the second

Sandven Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Grove Beaver Acres: 200 Awarded: 2011

and

“One of the ponds ... made for some pretty good farm ground.... so good, it earned my dad a trip to Chicago for winning a corn yield contest.” —Gilbert Sandven Century Farm owner

pays for it and third blows it, and I wasn’t going to be the one that blows it. “First it was my grandpa, then my dad, my brothers, then me, my son and now my grandson. It’s always been farmed by someone in the family.” Sandven on hand last summer at the Iowa State Fair to receive his Century Farm award along with some of his family including his son, Doug, and grandson; son, Steven, and his wife Charlene, and grand-daughter Brandy Mayall and her children Owen and Alexis.

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson

GILBerT SaNdVeN IS the third generation to own his family’s Century farm in Humboldt County and is proud to have his grandson become the fifth generation to farm the land. The family included third, fourth, fifth and sixth generations present that day to help honor their family’s farming heritage. When M.J. Sandven bought the farm, it consisted of an acreage with a house where Sandven said he was born, a chicken house and a barn. The buildings have now become run down and plans are in place to have the acreage cleared. At the time of the 1911 purchase, Sandven said a good share of the land was a swamp, but his grandfather installed tile, and a drainage ditch was dug a few years

 



later. All of that tiling made for some productive farmland, Sandven said. “One of the ponds that were drained made for some pretty good farm ground,” he said, “so good, it earned my dad a trip to Chicago for winning a corn yield contest.” Sandven said he was reared on the farm until he was 14 when his family moved across the road to a more modernized home. “We had no electricity, and running water meant me running back and forth to the well,” Sandven







said. “Our radio was batteryoperated and so on Saturday nights we went to town to get it charged. “I would hurry to get chores done just to be able to listen to the Lone Ranger.” There wasn’t much else his family really needed from town, he said, with raising cattle, milk cows, pigs, chickens and growing a big garden, they had close to everything they needed. Sandven recalls his father having a threshing machine and, right before the World War II, he traded that in for a combine and a baler. “We would bale every day it was dry enough to bale,” he said. “We baled for neighbors that needed help, too.” Sandven said he learned to plant using a 1930 John Deere when he was 15 and although he upgraded throughout the years, he continued to plant until he was in his late 70s, quitting just three years ago. Going from horses to the size of tractors used today, is probably the biggest changes his farm has been through in the last 100 years. “The power source is the biggest change I think that has happened,” he said. So, what’s next for the Sandven farm? “I hope to pass it on so it remains in the family,” said Sandven. Contact Kriss Nelson jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Ida County

Bavarian immigrants started farm By DOUG CLOUGH Farm New staff writer IDA GROVE — Nicholas Wunschel surely had no idea what he was starting when he boarded a big boat for the United States in 1884. Emigrating from Bavaria, Germany, the trip by sea would be only a fraction of his journey to his new home. He would have to find other means of transportation to make before settling in western Iowa, where he lived in Sac County initially, then in Ida County with his wife, Ottilie Rohde, whom he sent for from Bavaria. “I don’t remember my grandpa and grandma,” said Arlis Renze, who is the third of five generations to live on the farm settled by Wunschel. “I do know that he never learned to speak English; and he bought our 80 acres for $137.50 per acre, which was a lot of money back then.” In 1920, the Wunschels built the farm’s house from a Sears and Roebuck kit. The box-style house, with porch on the back and addition on the front, is approaching its own century mark. The home sets only yards back from a gravel road and is surrounded by outbuildings, grain bins and a newer home built by Arlis and Floyd Renze’s son, Randy. Many years before the new home was built, Wunschel’s son, Wunschel, moved in when the original home was new. “My dad told me he cried quite a bit when they first moved into the home,” Arlis Renze said. “He wanted to go home, which was only about a mile south.” But his

renze Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 5th township: Blaine Acres: 80 Awarded: 2011

-Farm News photos by Doug Clough

FLOyd aNd arLIS renze stand at the entryway of the lane to their farmstead. while the couple now lives in ida grove, they still have a son and granddaughter who live on the farm. randy renze and his family live in a newer home on the property while dana Phillips lives in the home that was original to the generations that lived there.

STaNCHIONS are the only evidence left of milk cows that once filled part of a barn on this Century farm. parents remained at the home, which would be filled by four more generations of their family. As fate would have it, Albert Wunschel not only got used to it, he lived there as an adult with his own family.

In 1938, the founding couple sold the farm to Albert and his wife, Mae, moving to a small neighboring town for their retirement. While Arlis Renze doesn’t have records of the type of farming the first generation worked, she does know firsthand the kind of farming her father and mother demonstrated. “My dad grew corn, hay and oats,” Renze said. “Of course, the hay and oats went to our livestock. We had cattle, hogs, chicken and 11 milk cows.” As the third generation, the Renzes lived on the farmstead beginning in 1977 when Albert Wunschel sold the farm to them. The Renzes added soybeans to

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their crop rotations of hay, oats and corn. “We also added the farrowing house and changed the chicken house to one, too,” Floyd Renze said. “We also added the hog sheds as well as five grain bins.” “We had cattle and hogs, too,” Renze said. “Both Arlis and I had plenty to do on a daily basis with our farrow-to-finish operation. “It was a busy time; Arlis was involved with sorting hogs and other parts of our operation.” The Renzes quit the hog operation in 2004 and like their forebears moved to town, in this case to Ida Grove. Their youngest son, Randy Renze, moved into the 1920-built home that same year. With wife Maggie, the couple cus-

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tom-fed hogs for several years and currently background cattle. Floyd Renze is still active during planting and harvesting, farming 1,100 acres with his son. It’s apparent that he’s not quite ready to give up what he calls a “good way of life.” The Renzes’ son, Brian, also assists in the spring and fall when possible. In 2011, the same year the Renzes were awarded Century Farm honors, Randy Renze and his family moved into a home less than a few hundred feet from the founder-established abode. “We wanted to keep the home fires burning,” Arlis Renze said, “so we were happy to find out a granddaughter wanted to move into the house.” And so, a fifth generation begins with granddaughter Dana Phillips, whose mother is Julie Phillips. While Dana Phillips is no stranger to living on a farm, the farmer of record is still Randy Renze. “When I was younger I used to spend a lot of time (at the farm) in the summer with Grandma and Grandpa,” Dana Phillips said. “I never thought that I would be living here. “It’s neat to think that I am living in the same house my Greatgrandpa Wunschel moved into when he was very young. There has been some remodeling done to the house, but I’m sure they didn’t think that so many years later a family member would still be living in the same house on the same farm.”

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friday, June 22, 2012

Kossuth County

Owner manages farm at age 92 By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer ELMORE, MINN. — It’s not uncommon for a third-generation land owner to be an integral part of running the farm — unless she is 92, and the person in charge when it comes to the major decisions. “If we have a question, she’s the one we go to,” said Brandon Thilges, Ingebritson’s greatgrandson and the sixth generation of the family to farm the land. The 200-acre farm is near Ledyard in Kossuth County and has been in Ingebritson’s family since 1902 when her grandfather, John Haas, purchased the land, which was 160 acres at the time. Ingebritson said her grandfather was orphaned, losing his mother when he was 4 and his father when he was 7. He was reared by neighbors for some time, Ingebritson said. “My grandfather did very well for his life for being an orphaned boy,” Ingebritson said. “He didn’t have much of an education, he pretty much taught himself.” Hass married Sophie Miller, and they came to northern Iowa from the southern part of the state, Ingebritson said, because they had heard farmland was better in this area. When they arrived in Kossuth County, they rented a farm for a few years before earning enough money to buy their own. The farm was purchased then in 1902 for $65 per acre. The farm has since been owned

Ingebritson Century Farm Established: 1902 Generations: 3rd township: Springfield Acres: 160 Awarded: 2002 by Ingebritson’s mother, Gertrude Goeke, before Ingebritson inherited the land. Ingebritson has four daughters — Alice Wilhelmi, Donna Stoltenberg, Judi Lloyd and Debbie Belbeck — all of whom are heirs to the 200 acres and will eventually carry on a tradition passing the farm down the maternal branch of the family tree. When Haas purchased the farm he and four other neighbors dug their own tile to “make do” until Kossuth County dredged drainage ditches. Through research, Brian Thilges said he found much of the area wasn’t settled, as far as towns being started, until the 1890s. Coming to this farmat that time, he said, was most likely a dangerous endeavor, as many stories have been told of early settlers having problems with Indians. It is believed the farm consisted of an old barn when her grandparents purchased it. But Ingebritson said her grandparents put up a house and later a bigger barn, and set themselves up to be self-sufficient. Ingebritson said she grew up

-Farm News photos by Kriss Nelson

eLLa Mae INGeBrITSON and her great-grandson Brandon thilges, are the third and sixth generation of their family on the Century farm. ingebritson is an integral part of managing the farm that thilges operates. two miles away but visited her grandparent’s farm often, considering it a second home. She said she’s glad her family held onto the land throughout some tough eras, including the Great Depression. “I remember how happy Grandpa was to have corn reach $1 a bushel,” Ingebritson said. “They worked so hard through the

Depression.” Crops were grown in strips, she said, not in large acres like they are today. Fields, Ingebritson said, were divided into strips of hay, beans, corn and oats. Livestock grazed the fields. She recalls using alfalfa as their nitrogen source. She can also recall the neighbors gathering to thresh grain. “It

was always a happy time when neighbors got together, “ she said. Ingebritson said that purchasing a new piece of machinery called a combine in 1944 ended her family’s threshing days. Prior to the combine, she can recall, in 1940, having a tractor, which eventually phased out the need for horses. Ingebritson said she’s done all types of farm chores throughout her life, setting up as the main decision maker after her husband, Joe, died. She share cropped for a few years following Joe’s death , she said, until switching to cash rent and managing the farm. Ingebritson said she’s proud to have helped hold onto her 110year-old farm and to have her great-grandson farming it. “It’s wonderful. Something to brag about,” she said. Thilges said he appreciates the opportunity. “Access to my greatgrandma’s land allows me to get started in crop farming,” he said. “In addition, my brother Curt and I have 40 head of cows and calves, and a custom spray business.” Ingebritson has a rather unique outlook on to what the biggest changes on the farm — the introduction of soybeans replacing alfalfa as the nitrogen-fixing legume after the demand for alfalfa as horse feed was lost to tractors. Contact Kriss nelson jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Lyon County

Korthals farm retains original 160 By ROBYN KRUGER Farm News staff writer GEORGE — Through the memories of earlier family generations, Alfred Korthals can tell you much about the history of his corner of Iowa. Korthals has lived in this small, close-knit east central Lyons County community his entire life. Korthals said he meets regularly with eight surviving of 11 siblings — all living in the community. “The eight of us get together each week for coffee,” Korthals said. It’s easy to see the pride Korthals has in both his community and especially in his family. Although Korthals lives in town, he has been able to pass down his farming heritage by renting his land to his son, Gary Korthals. Gary Korthals is farming the original 160 acres with his cousin, Dave. Along with grain farming, the cousins are custom-feeding nursery pigs. The operation today, Alfred Korthals said, reminds him of how much farm life has changed since the family’s farm saga began. In 1949, Alfred and his new bride, Melba Schmidt Korthals, moved onto the farm in Wheeler Township. They moved into the house where Melba grew up and helped her parents, George and Ann Schmidt, farm the 160 acres. “When I started out helping George farm,” Korthals said, “our equipment consisted of just two horses and a F20 tractor. “As a family we worked together shocking, picking and threshing.

korthals Century Farm Established: 1909 Generations: 4th township: Wheeler Acres: 160 Awarded: 2009 It was very hard work.” As Korthals reminisced, he explained that his family was “very fortunate” to be working with Mabel’s father, as he was the Lyon County champion corn picker. Corn picking contests were great entertainment “back in the day” and George had won first place several years running. “Few could pick faster than he,” Alfred said. Yields in those days were around 55 bushels an acre (compared to the 227-bushels average the family has now). After the crops were in, 40 percent of Korthals’ profits went to George’s mother, Teresa, for rent on the family land and the rest the two men split. The young family raised a variety of livestock in its initial years. Farm animals included 12 sheep, 7 cows, 200 chickens, the two horses and 12 sows that were bred to farrow each fall. “I remember we were often able to get 100 piglets out of those 12 sows.” he said. Teresa Korthals lived in the area most of her life as well, Alfred Korthals said.

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Gary kOrTHaLS, LeFT, and alfred Korthals stand beside the family’s farm sign in east central Lyons County. family remembrances trail back to native americans living on the banks of nearby Little rock river. “I enjoyed getting her to talk about her early days.” he said. “I have forgotten details of some of her stories, but she remembered when there were Native Americans who were living on the banks of the Little Rock River not far from town. She also told stories of the great

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grasshopper infestation of 1888 when the insects ate the siding right off of the houses.” Alfred and Melba reared three children — Marjorie, Patricia and Gary. Gary and his wife Lori live in the family’s farm home, which George Schmidt built in 1909.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Marshall County

Family takes ‘a lot of pride’ in farm By DAVE DEVALOIS Farm News staff writer RHODES — Joyce Guckert will always remember the exact date that her family’s farm reached the century mark — Oct. 16, 2005. It just happens to coincide with the day her brother, Danny Guckert, had a stroke and passed away. Danny Guckert was the brother who chose to leave behind a job that paid well at Maytag in Newton to work on the farm full time with his father, Lawrence Guckert. His decision was puzzling to her parents. “My parents didn’t understand why he would want to (farm) when he was getting a weekly paycheck at Maytag,” Joyce Guckert said. “But that’s what he wanted to do, so he quit his job at Maytag.

Guckert Century Farm Established: 1905 Generations: 3rd township: Eden Acres: 160 Awarded: 2009 “My dad showed him firsthand everything there is with farming. My dad taught him how to plant and taught him how to raise cattle and hogs. “He took Danny under his wing.” Joyce recalled that the day her brother died, he had been combining corn. When he came into the home, he collapsed and was gone,

-Contributed photo

Larry GuCkerT, Joyce guckert’s older brother, works with a team of horses in this undated photo.

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she said. “All the corn hadn’t been harvested yet.” Her mother, Thelma Guckert, contacted a relative to finish the harvest. Thelma Guckert later decided to rent the tillable acres of the Century Farm to that relative. That marked the end of the family working its land as full-time farmers. Thelma Guckert, 90, continues to own the farm, but has moved into town. Joyce Guckert said her brother, Danny, did some research into the family tree and learned that the farm was established by Jacob Guckert, who came to the United States from Germany when he was 16. He entered the U.S. through Ellis Island near New York City. “I’m not really sure why he chose Marshall County, Iowa, from there,” she said. Guckert and her nephew, Jeremy Guckert, continue to raise a small herd of cattle on the original farm’s 35 acres of pasture and invest many hours each week with upkeep of the farm buildings and grounds. “The farm means a lot to me,” said Jeremy Guckert, Danny Guckert’s son. “I take a lot of pride in it. We try hard to keep the farm looking good,” he said. Joyce Guckert grew up on the farm, which started as a 160-acre farm and had hogs, cattle and chickens, as well as corn and soybeans. “A typical farm life is how I grew up,” she said. “We all had some kind of chores. I had to gather eggs. My brothers had to help

-Farm News photo by Dave DeValois

JereMy aNd JOyCe guckert raise a small herd of cattle on the pasture ground of the original century farm. Jeremy is Joyce’s nephew and the son of her late brother, danny guckert. with animals, and we all had to bale hay and walk beans.” When Joyce was 8, older brothers Danny and Larry were drafted into the military, so she took on more and more responsibility in their absence. She learned to drive the tractor, and bale and rake hay. “I always enjoyed doing things with my dad outside,” she said. “I wasn’t much for cooking and doing things inside the house. “I’d rather be out with my dad

and whatever he was involved with. I remember when he got a lot bigger tractor and he wanted me to learn to drive it.” As an adult, however, Joyce eventually settled in as a city girl, working for many years as a legal secretary in Marshalltown, before quitting that job in 2008 to focus on the farm. Contact Dave DeValois at dwdevalois@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

O’Brien County

thankful for Century Farm’s legacy By ROBYN KRUGER Farm News staff writer PRIMGHAR — While touring a cemetery in his ancestry homeland of Norway, Steve Berntson and his wife, Joanne, noticed that the phrase “Takk for Alt” was printed on many of the headstones there. Interpreted to English, Takk for Alt means, “Thanks for everything.” “This phrase summarizes well the sense of peace and contentment the Norwegian people have, Steve Berntson said. “It’s such a contrast to the way many farmers here in Northwest Iowa live.” Berntson received his Century Farm award last summer. The Berntsons are a family who has kept its past alive. Berntson penned a chapter in the book, “Family Reunion,” a group of essays on Iowa’s people and how Iowans have become who they are today as residents of the state. In his chapter titled “Deep roots, generous crown” Berntson describes his love for his home and those who began living here a century ago. “A place is not a place until its people have been born there, come of age, known the joie de vivre, shared their sorrows and died there,” he wrote in his chapter. Clearly his roots run deeper, knowing the history of those who came before him. Berntson’s great-grandparents moved to O’Brien County in 1911. Bernt Berntson, a young man who had grown up in a mountainous region of Norway, found the black prairie dirt of Iowa appealing. After coming to this new land in Iowa, he met a Norwegian girl from North

Berntson Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 4th township: Dale Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011

-Farm News photo by Robyn Kruger

STeVeN aNd JOaNNe BerNTSON stand in front of an aerial photo of the farm taken during the 1950s. for several months. They eventually married and originally settled near THe BerNTSONS retrieved Marshalltown. After several crop failures due to family relics belonging to two of steven Berntson’s father’s flooding, the couple found land betsiblings who died young, after ter suited for them in Northwest being misdiagnosed with scar- Iowa. Though the going rate for Iowa let fever. the children’s belongings were placed in a farm land in 1911 was $75 an acre, box following their deaths and Bernt was content to pay $135 an were later found by glen acre for a farm with a house and barn already in place. Berntson. Upon selling their farm at Marshalltown, all of their belongDakota named Karina. She was a traveling evangelist ings, including livestock, were and the two communicated by pen moved to O’Brien County by train.

With renewed hope the family started its new life in O’Brien County. Berntson’s father, Glenn Berntson, was born on this farm. As a young man he married his wife Verona and lived here his entire life. He later built a small retirement home, leaving the main house to Steven Berntson and his family. The current Berntsons reared one son on the farm. Daniel, whom the couple home-schooled, is now in his third year at Princeton University.

They have enjoyed passing on their Norwegian heritage and the stories of their family farm, which have been passed down through succeeding generations. The couple now farm and raise a small herd of 20 ewes. They enjoy studying genealogy and have traced their ancestral backgrounds to the same village in Norway. A walk through their home shows the pride they have in their family and heritage. Contact robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Osceola County

Portion of original farm sold to city By ROBYN KRUGER Farm News staff writer MELVIN — Few people who know Osceola County are aware that the current location of the small town of Melvin was originally one mile north of where it is today. When the Rock Island Railroad laid tracks near this small community in 1900, the tracks were 1 mile from the town. With such a distance between the town and the station, towns people decided that land should be bought so their fair city could be moved closer to the station. Phillip Keller, whose deed for 160 acres of land near Melvin, was signed 10 years earlier, was one of several landowners to sell a portion of their parcels to the city of Melvin. The town was soon relocated near its train station. Keller, a German immigrant who settled in the Melvin area with his Swedish wife, was unlikely to envision that in 2012 one acre of land would sell for more than what he had paid for his original 160 acres — $1,502 — in 1890. The rich, black soil was good to the family and, in the 1950s, the farm was passed on to his son Phillip Jacob Keller, or “Jake” as he was called. “My grandfather was a hard working man,” said Jake Keller’s great-granddaughter, Peggy Monier. “He worked 12-hour days on his farm up until he was 92 years old and met his end due to an automobile accident.” The original farm house and outbuilding were demolished many years ago, Monier said; however, she said she has fond memories of the place where she enjoyed many family gatherings through the years. Monier’s father, Clifford Keller, farmed the family plot on his own from 1982 until his death in 2007. Monier and her six siblings split the farm seven ways. Though Monier and her husband, Jerry Monier, own a small part, they are also farming the siblings’ acres, as well.

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keller Century Farm Established: 1890 Generations: 4th township: Baker Acres: 40 Awarded: 1990

-Contributed photo

THe FOrMer town site of melvin was situated on Keller Century farm acres. a portion of the farm was sold to the town. “When my father died,” she said, “we had to make some quick decisions as a family about what we each wanted to do with our share of the land. “Some of my siblings seriously considered selling and investing that money. “They are feeling very fortunate to have not sold with the stock market crashing and land prices going as high as they are right now. “Jerry and I hope to keep our portion of the family’s land in our possession for many years to come.” Contact Robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

-Farm News photo by Robyn Kruger

PeGGy MONIer, the fourth generation to live on the Keller Century farm, holds the Century farm sign awarded in 1990. the farm is now divided among seven siblings, although she and husband, Jerry monier, are farming the entire spread.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Palo Alto County

Berklands ‘grew where planted’ By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer CYLINDER — For Ritchie Berkland, home has always been the Palo Alto County farm where he was reared. “I never got very far in life,” Berkland said, who didn’t realize just how interested he was in farming until he left home to study farm operations at Iowa State University. “I discovered that I really missed the farm and wanted to return.” Farming has been a way of life for the Berkland family for generations. The family’s Vernon Township farm dates to 1891, when Berkland’s great-grandfather, Christian Knudson, homesteaded the land. In 1938, Berkland’s parents, Amos and Pearl Knudson, purchased the farm. Berkland’s father, who had grown up with traditional horse power, enjoyed working with horses and was known for his superior ability to cross-check corn. As farming methods evolved, a mounted picker on the family’s Super M tractor helped bring in the harvest, recalled Berkland, who noted that it took his father, his Uncle Melvin and his Uncle Bert the good part of a day to get the picker set up and ready to go. “When Dad got a two-row, pulltype New Idea picker in the mid1960s, he thought that was the cat’s meow,” Berkland said. His father also raised corn, soybeans, oats and alfalfa on 320 acres, as well as pigs, sheep and milk cows. Berkland, who was born in 1953, the youngest of five children, said the cows were

Berkland Century Farm Established: 1841 Generations: 4th township: Vernon Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011 gone by the early-1960s. After Berkland completed his degree from ISU in 1975 and began farming full time, he continued to raise hogs and purebred sheep. He and his wife, Cynthia, also started buying land, paying $2,995 for 80 acres in 1979. Then the farm crisis hit, and land prices plunged to less than $1,000 an acre in some areas. To add to the pain, interest rates soared as high as 24 percent. “In those years, you couldn’t make any money raising hogs, sheep, corn or soybeans,” Berkland said. He said he moved his family into the basement of the farm home where his parents resided. “We lived there for 13-and-a-half years, and we were glad to have my wife’s income from teaching to help pay the bills.” When the 1988 drought hit, Berkland said his corn yield was less than 100 bushels per acre on his north farm. Despite the tough times, the Berklands kept farming and selling seed to supplement the family’s income. “I like being around people and enjoy talking to farmers, so it was a

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

rICHIe BerkLaNd, left, his daughter, meghan, and his wife, Cynthia, live on the Century farm near Cylinder where he grew up. natural fit,” said Berkland, who sells soybean seed from Asgrow/DeKalb and Latham Hi-Tech Seeds to farmers in Palo Alto and Emmet counties. He is impressed by how superior seed genetics have continued to push yields higher. “When I started farming, getting 125 bushels per acre on corn was a big deal. By the 1990s, about 160 to 165 bushels per acre was as good as it usually got. Then we took a quantum leap forward in recent years with all the new traits and genetics. Now I’ve had years where the aver-

age has been 217 bushels per acre.” One thing that hasn’t changed on Berkland’s farm is his commitment to conservation. For years, he and his family have planted evergreens, shrubs and tall grasses for windbreaks and wildlife habitat. “When I was a kid,” Berkland said, “there was a beautiful grove here where I enjoyed playing and making forts. “Then Dutch elm disease came along and killed nearly all the trees.” Berkland served on the Palo Alto County Conservation Board for 17 years and is also Vernon Township trustee. “I’m trying to diversify our plantings, because I’ve never for-

gotten the elms.” The Berklands’ attractive farmstead provides the perfect setting for family gatherings, including the annual Fourth of July reunion. “A Century Farm is a connection to family, from my ancestors to my siblings to my children,” said Berkland, whose son, Grant, 26, lives in New Jersey, and daughter, Meghan, 19, is a student at ISU. “This is a gathering place, and we’re glad we’ve kept the farm in our family.” Contact darcy dougherty maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Plymouth County

Farm predates state’s oldest silver maple By DOUG CLOUGH Farm News staff writer KINGSLEY — There are no longer any chickens on the Sitzmannn farm — not even a chicken house. The hog house is absent as are the grain bins and corn crib. The stock herd is long gone. Only the silver maple, Iowa’s oldest still living, remains. The maple, easily more than 30 feet in circumference, was planted in 1915 by first-generation owners Joe and Eva Sitzmannn, who purchased 160 acres of farm land in 1908. The original Sitzmann family lived a mile down the gravel from the current residence. The current owners, Emmett and Lucy Sitzmannn, have the safe assumption that his grandparents were multi-commodity farmers. The founders must have had stock and milk cows, hogs and chickens. They farmed corn and oats. Emmett Sitzmann knows one thing for sure though — Joe Sitzmann planted the silver maple nearly 100 years ago. It’s recorded as the oldest silver maple in Iowa. Sitzmann, 83, said the tree has survived multiple weather changes, including Iowa’s storied agricultural history. Frank Sitzmannn, son of Joe and Eva Sitzmann, eventually would take over the farm when the first generation moved to town. Frank and wife Christina continued to farm in much the same way that Joe and Eva Sitzmann began. “My parents had white and brown horses that were a big part of the farm,” Emmett Sitzmannn

Sitzmann Century Farm Established: 1908 Generations: 3rd township: Elkhorn Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011

“My dad got his first tractor ... in 1930. Of course, I missed the horses, but those tractors sure did a lot of work for us.” —Emmett Sitzmann Kingsley-area farmer

said. He and Lucy farmed their 160 acres until he retired from farming in 1994. “Those horses cultivated the land where we planted corn.” The couple still lives in the house where they reared 12 children. Large families were nothing new to either Emmett or Lucy. Emmett is one of 12 siblings, while Lucy is one of 11. “We married in 1957,” Emmett Sitzmann said, “six months after we met at a Catholic social dance. A Catholic social dance, imagine that.” Lucy Sitzmann smiles. Together, the couple has more than 400 nieces and nephews. Sitzmannn said he began farm-

-Farm News photo by Doug Clough

LuCy aNd eMMeTT sitzmann stand in front of the silver maple planted by emmett’s grandfather, Joe sitzmann. the silver maple is documented as the state’s oldest silver maple, planted in 1915. ing in 1950 and remembers many farm. “My dad got his first tractor, of the changes that occurred during a Twin City steel-wheel tractor, in his father’s time managing the 1930,” Sitzmannn said. “He got an

International Farmall in 1936. Of course, I missed the horses, but those tractors sure did a lot of work for us.” One thing that didn’t change was the farm’s livestock. His father continued raising stock cows, hogs, chicken and milk cows. The numbers may have increased as the tractors added to the efficiency of the farm, but the types of livestock remained the same. Buildings were added and improved as necessary. A picture from the 1950s shows a barn, chicken and hog house, and a machine shed to house the equipment. The home and garage stand as they are today. As a constant reminder of the Sitzmannn lineage, the silver maple is in the picture, much smaller at that time, but easily recognized. The farmscape surrounding the maple has undergone a number of changes — a barn with livestock to a barn used for hayloft basketball only, to a barn disassembled, having been used to its fullest extent. The maple has seen the livestock dwindle and the outbuildings fade away. It has seen children reared and move on, returning with grandchildren to Emmett and Lucy Sitzmannn’s farm. The couple rents its 160 acres. “I’ve lived here all my life,” Sitzmann said. “We’ve stayed here because it’s home.” This is a fact that the Sitzmanns and one very large silver maple know to be true. Contact doug Clough at douglasclough@farm-news.com.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Pocahontas County

Farm considered ‘a gift from parents’ By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer POCAHONTAS — While many families are three to four generations removed from their ancestors who purchased their Century Farms, Mary Lou Johnson is unique. She knew the original owner of her family’s farm very well, since he was her father. This summer, the farm will officially earn its Century Farm status on her 85th birthday. “I’m the youngest of 10 children. I was born here in my family’s farmhouse in 1927,” said Johnson, who was named after her mother, Mary, and her father, Louis H. Hammer. Louis Hammer acquired the family’s Dover Township farm for $99 an acre in 1912. Hammer was a progressive farmer, Johnson said, who noted that he installed a home electric plant in 1927. “We were one of the few around who had a yard light and electric lights in all the farm buildings.” The barn was the heart of the farm in that era, Johnson said, who noted her family’s hip-roof barn was built in 1922. It was constructed of 1inch-by-4-inch tongue-and-groove lumber purchased from the sale of World War I surplus barracks from Camp Dodge in central Iowa. “My dad saw an ad in the Sioux City paper, inquired about the lumber and figured out how much he would need to build a barn.” After he placed his order, two train-car loads of lumber from Camp Dodge were delivered to Varina, seven miles from the farm. The lumber was then transported by horse and wagon to the farm,

Johnson Century Farm Established: 1912 Generations: 2nd township: Dover Acres: 120 Awarded: 2012 Johnson said. Her brothers helped build the barn. While the barn played a key role on the farm for decades, it began to deteriorate and was taken down in the mid-1980s. “You can tear down the barn, but you can’t tear down the memories,” Johnson said, who also recalls many memories of Varina. “My family would buy many of our supplies there,” she said, and remembers when this small Pocahontas County town boasted a lumberyard, bank, doctor, veterinarian, grocery store, two churches and two schools. Since there were no convenience stores in that era, Johnson said, her mother baked eight loaves of bread twice a week for the family. In addition to helping her mother and assisting with outside chores, Johnson learned to entertain herself on the farm. The grove behind the house provided plenty of interesting opportunities to create “playhouses” with rooms created from tree branches. Other areas also attracted Johnson’s attention. “I took some gas from my dad’s 55-gallon fuel barrel to make mud pies. I only did that once.” When Johnson was in sixth grade at the Dover No. 2 country school

-Farm News photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby

Mary LOu aNd NOrMaN Johnson, hold the photo book created by their granddaughter, Carrie Larson, telling of the couple’s life on the farm. near the Hammer farm, her father moved his family to a farm a few miles east of Pocahontas so Johnson and her older sister would be closer to Pocahontas High School. “Although Dad only had a fourthgrade education, he would always tell us an education is the one thing that can never be taken from you, and it will help you out in all you do.” After completing high school, she married her husband, Norman Johnson, in 1947. In 1954, the couple moved to the Dover Township farm where Johnson had been reared.

“I give Norman a lot of credit for our Century Farm, because his interest in farming meant that we kept the land in the family,” Johnson said. The couple reared their children — Mark, Julie, Jan, Stuart and Jeanette — on the farm, as well as raising crops, beef cattle, hogs, milkcows and chickens. “We used to raise a lot of hogs,” Johnson said. The family had 12 Hampshire sows and farrowed twice a year. More transitions came in 2002, when the Johnsons began renting out their tillable acres. “As times change, I’m reminded of how my dad would always say, ‘You either

go forward or backward, but you can’t just stay where you are,’” said Johnson. Her granddaughter, Carrie Larson, created a photo book that tells the story of Norman and Mary Lou’s life on the farm. The fact that Johnson’s 120 acres became a Century Farm on her 85th birthday is something she will always cherish. “I consider the farm a gift from my parents that has kept on giving all these years.” Contact Darcy Dougherty Maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Polk County

Retired to grandfather’s farm By DAVE DEVALOIS Farm News staff writer RUNNELLS — Alan Petre grew up a city kid and remained one all of his life, working 35 years as an engineer on military contracts for the Boeing Co. primarily in Seattle, Wash., and at the twilight of his career in Wichita, Kan. Yet, something inside him always yearned for those childhood days when he would follow closely by his grandfather, Ben Person, around the Polk County farm in rural Runnells and help with whatever chores needed to be done for the day, from feeding the hogs and cattle to baling hay to planting corn. “What I saw with Grandpa was the calm and the peacefulness of the farm,” Petre said. “I was just like his shadow. I’d follow him all around the farm and tend to the livestock in the mornings and at night.” Grandpa Person’s farm had corn and soybeans, hogs and cattle. He was well known for breeding Duroc hogs, which were a show breed, as well as a commercial breed, known for producing lean hogs. His mother showed the Durocs at the Polk County Fair and the Iowa State Fair and won grand champion multiple times. Petre recalls that a national hog newsletter often highlighted his grandfather’s hog-breeding success. “He always had a big spread in the Duroc News.”

Petre Century Farm Established: 1910 Generations: 4th township: Camp Acres: 130 Awarded: 2010 When Petre first started coming to his grandfather’s farm, horses were still in use. “I saw the transformation of farming from using horses to using John Deere tractors,” he said. The farm also didn’t have electricity back then, and the family burned corn cobs to warm the home. Well, Petre said, warm was a subjective term. “If you sat right next to that furnace, it was pretty warm. But if you got very far away it was cold in the house.” The farm had outdoor plumbing. Yet, none of those inconveniences changed his love of the farm. In some ways, they added to his fondness of all things country. “I’ve always had a love for the farm. To me, it was just a peaceful life and something you didn’t find in town,” he said. In retrospect, Petre knows he wasn’t much of a help with the long list of farm chores, at least early on, but his grandfather never let on. “Grandpa made you feel important, that you were a helper,” Petre said. Because his grandfather didn’t

-Farm News photo by Dave DeValois

aLaN PeTre’S Century farm includes 100 acres of cropland and 30 acres of pasture and timber. He can view the pasture from the deck of his home. He has also created a pond. as a child, Petre worked on the farm with his grandfather, even though he lived in town in nearby Carlisle. have any sons of his own, he enjoyed the companionship and stopped to teach Petre lessons along the way. “He taught me a lot of values.” Petre recalls one day when they were planting corn. He got bored and started scattering some seeds from the bag, like they were tiny toys. When his grandfather noticed the stray seeds, Petre pondered his response carefully and eventually told him the straight up truth. His grandfather told him that since he did so, he wouldn’t punish him. “I think there’s farm values like that the kids are missing today,” Petre said. “There’s something to seeing something planted in the

spring and harvested in the fall. “There’s a lot of community. When someone’s sick people will come in and help,” he said. He recalled that when his uncle was ailing in the midst of the corn harvest, neighbors and relatives came forward to bring in the crop — and didn’t expect anything in return. Petre also learned that Sundays were reserved for going to church and spending time with family. The only work that was done was what had to be done to keep the livestock healthy and fed. Petre continued to work on the farm and live in Carlisle, a few miles away, all the way through

high school. But when it came time to decide on a vocation, he was firm in his decision to leave the farm life behind. Petre said he realized that the diverse 160-acre farm of his grandfather’s era would not sustain him. In doing so, he chose not to pursue the investment in hundreds of more acres and the huge capital needed to add tractors and combines and other implements. “Today’s farming has changed. It’s a big business,” Petre said. Petre’s engineering degree led him far away from his rural roots to the Boeing Corp., and Seattle, where he raised three sons. Just a few years from retirement, he was transferred to Wichita, Kan., and when he pondered retirement, he knew just where he wanted to go — back to Grandpa Ben’s farm in Polk County. Petre owned half of the farm and his brother owned the rest. He purchased his brother’s share and then built a house on the original farm’s pasture ground, added a pond and Conservation Reserve Program acres and rented out the cropland. Now, Petre is taking the legal steps necessary to ensure that his sons will own the farm someday when he passes. “I feel very fortunate to live here where my grandfather and my great-grandfather walked this land. … and to be able to pass it along to my kids,” he said. Contact dave deValois at dwdevalois@yahoo.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Sac County

Currie farm dates back to Cook Ranch By DARCY DOUGHERTY MAULSBY Farm News staff writer ODEBOLT — The story of John and Laurie Currie’s Century Farm northwest of this southwest Sac County community has long been intertwined with the county’s rich history. In 1911, John Currie’s grandfather, Neil Currie, purchased 160 acres of Cook Township land that had once been part of the famous Cook Ranch. “My grandfather bought this land for $125 an acre,” Currie said, adding that Neil Currie was a Sac County native who was born in Clinton Township in 1884. The Cook Ranch, which was also known as Brookmont Farms, was established in the early-1870s by Charles Cook of Chicago, who purchased 12 sections of Sac County land for $5 an acre. When portions of the Cook Ranch were sold off starting in 1909, buyers were required to purchase 640 acres, although the parcels didn’t have to be contiguous. Neil Currie and his three brothers — John Jr., Alex and Duncan Currie — pooled resources to buy 160 acres each. “Neil built this farmstead from the ground up after he bought his land,” John Currie said, who noted the farmhouse where he and Laurie live was built in 1916. Neil Currie also built a barn and corn crib, using lumber from nearby cottonwood trees. Neil Currie and his wife, Alice, reared their three children on the farm, including John Currie’s father, Stuart, who was born in 1923. After Neil Currie lost his

Currie Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 3rd township: Cook Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011 left arm in a corn picker accident in the late-1930s, 15-year-old Stuart Currie assumed a great deal of the farm work. “Dad also had a 16-millimeter camera and enjoyed filming daily activities on the farm,” John Currie said, “like Neil using a check-row corn planting system.” John Currie hired a company to transfer 10,000 feet of film that his father had shot from the late1940s through the mid-1980s onto DVDs. Stuart Currie and his wife, Olympia, who grew up in Sioux City, reared their three children on the farm — Douglas, Stephanie and John. John Currie said he always knew he wanted to farm. “I liked being outside and working with machinery,” Currie said, adding that his father’s farm inventory, over the years, included a new 1941 Farmall H, a new 1950 Farmall M and a used Super M and 806. While there were always plenty of chores to do, including baling for the neighbors, a job that paid 75 cents an hour, trips to town provided a break from the routine. Both John and Laurie Currie can remember when the high school

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JOHN aNd LaurIe Currie moved back to sac County in 1980, when he began farming full time. they live on the farm that his grandfather, neil Currie, purchased in 1911. band would perform on the street each Saturday night in the summer outside of the Odebolt State Bank. People would enjoy the music while they shopped in the local stores, which were open into the evening each Saturday. “You could hardly see the band because there were so many people around,” Currie said, who remembers when Odebolt had two clothing stores, a movie theater, a Gambles hardware store, two pharmacies, two implement dealerships, three car dealerships, a TV and appliance store, and many other businesses in town. After Currie graduated from Odebolt-Arthur High School in 1974, he completed his ag engi-

NNew e w features f e a t u r e s iimprove mprove performance w performance while h i l e rreducing educing w e a r aand wear nd m maintenance aintenance

neering degree from Iowa State University in 1978. He and Laurie, who were married in 1977, moved to the Quad Cities, where he worked for an engineering consulting firm and Laurie, who grew up on a farm south of Arthur, taught instrumental music in the public schools. In 1980, the young couple returned to Sac County so Currie could begin farming with his father-in-law, Marvin Lorenzen. The Curries also began raising hogs to generate cash flow. “I got about 25 sows and bought them for $28 per hundredweight, which was pretty cheap at the time,” he said. He started selling seed in the 1980s and has been an

Asgrow/DeKalb dealer since the mid-1990s. “The hogs kept us going during the farm crisis of the 1980s,” Currie said. The Curries said they are grateful that they had the opportunity to rear their three sons — Steve, 31; Mark, 27; and David, 23 — on the family’s Century Farm. “We’re glad our son Steve encouraged us to celebrate this award,” John Currie said. “A Century Farm is a big deal, and our farm has provided many generations of our family with a place to live and work.” Contact darcy dougherty maulsby at yettergirl@yahoo.com.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Sioux County

A great place to rear a family By ROBYN KRUGER Farm News staff writer BOYDEN — Being the youngest of nine children Dennis Van Der Weide learned little of his grandfather, Dutch-born William Kooiker. One story he was told was of the day Kookier brought his new bride, Klassjie, to the sight of their soon to be farm, which was open prairie. It was said that she cried when she saw the desolate wide open prairie land, Van Der Weide said. Kookier’s response was to tell her to be glad he would be building her a new home and that he would not make her live in a “soddy” — the sod homes sometimes built on the prairie. None the less the couple reared seven children on the farmstead including Van Der Weide’s mother, Tennie Van Der Weide, who later inherited it. Van Der Weide’s father, Arie Van Der Weide, and his wife moved onto the acreage in March 1951. Here they reared nine children, Dennis being the youngest. Dennis and Nancy Van Der Weide moved to the acreage in 1973, living with his parents through that summer until their new retirement home in town was built. The farm home is still the same place that William Kookier promised his bride in 1897, but is has been added onto and updated many times. The outbuildings have all been

Ven der Weide Century Farm Established: 1897 Generations: 3rd township: Capel Acres: 140 Awarded: 2011

THe VaN der WIede farm has seen its fair share of family generations born and reared since 1897. replaced with new. Nine seems to be the magic number for the Sioux County family. Dennis and Nancy reared nine children on the same farm. They have 23 grandchildren, with another on the way, and one of their daughters also has nine children. The family may not know much about its history, but it is celebrating the future. Yearly family reunions are host-

-Farm News photo by Robyn Kruger

deNNIS aNd NaNCy Van der weide stand in front of the fireplace with their Century farm sign. ed by the couple, and Nancy Van Der Weide enjoys helping with her grandchildren whenever she can. “Each year I enjoy getting the grandkids together before Mother’s Day,” she said. “We make Mother’s Day cards, and they help me plant flowers. We have a great time.” Family is the couple’s life. They also enjoy boarding their children’s and grandchildren’s horses and look forward to seeing them

come out to work with them. Though eligible for a Century Farm award in 1997, the couple had not taken the time to apply. In 2011, their daughter, Sadie Maassen, completed and filed the paperwork for application. Currently, Dennis is working in Sheldon at Roseboom Machine and Tool. He has his land customfarmed and also works with his wife to run two hog confinements south of his acreage.

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“We won’t’ be retiring for a long time,“ Nancy Van Der Weide said. The couple feels certain their acreage will remain in the family for many years to come with several of their children being interested in farming. “We have found the farm to be a great place to raise our family,” she said. Contact Robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.


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friday, June 22, 2012

Story County

6th generation works Heritage Farm By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer HUXLEY — The Helland family near this rural southwest Story County community is proud to be the owners of a 150-year-old farm. The Mike and Juli Helland, and Charles Helland families received the Heritage Farm award last summer at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. It was the Hellands’ great-greatgreat-grandparents, Ole and Astrid Helland, who purchased the farm in 1861, starting the long tradition of Hellands farming the site. Ole and Astrid Helland purchased the initial 40 acres from Solomon Heggen for $2.50 an acre. Within five years, their daughter and son-in-law, Seivert and Ingeborg Gjerdevik, bought 780 additional acres, then changed their last name to Helland. Since they were landowners with Ole and Astrid, they also owned 25 acres of timber for lumber and fuel as needed. By 1880, the families expanded the acreage to 180 acres. Both families came from Norway to settle in Story County. According to early Norwegian settlers’ history in the area, Story County was thought to be too remote during the late-1800s and wouldn’t be settled for 500 years. However, the early settlers of the Helland family didn’t agree. The farm next moved into the possession of Nels and Dennie Helland, then to Sanford and Clara Helland, then to Clark and Janice Helland, and then to current owners Mike, Juli and Charles Helland. Sanford Helland passed away leaving his wife Clara to run the

Helland Heritage Farm Established: 1861 Generations: 6th township: Lincoln Acres: 40 Awarded: 2011 farm. “She was the only woman to preside over the farm as the principal owner,” Mike Helland said. She moved onto the farm in 1910 as a young bride and continued to live there until 1990 when she passed away at the age of 101. Not only was she the only woman to control the farm, she was to this date the longest resident of the farm — seeing the most change when it comes to the revolution of Iowa agriculture. Sanford and Clara had two sons, Seerley and Clark (Mike and Charles’ father). Clark served in World War II and upon his return, Seerley moved off the farm with his family to farm near Roland, while Clark eventually bought his family’s farm. With a farm that has been in the family for more than 150 years, many memories have been made, and documented in many ways. Mike and Juli Helland’s son, Nick, who researched his family’s history as a school assignment. One anecdote he found was when Seivert loaded a plow and buckboard, along with a team of oxen, and headed to nearby Swede Point to get lathes sharpened. While

-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson

MIke aNd JuLI HeLLaNd, along with mike’s brother, Charles Helland, own and operate their family’s 150-year-old farm, near Huxley in southwest story County. attempting to cross the creek, the baby had been born.” It wasn’t until the third generawater ended up being too high, and he about lost all of his equipment tion, with Mike and Charles’ greatgrandfather, Nels Helland, that the and his ox team. Many of us take for granted the land was first tiled and drained. “That made the land a lot more luxuries we have today, Helland said. Some of those being the ease productive,” Mike said. Nels was also the first in the of communication and a hospital Helland family to run any mechabed for delivering babies. Mike Helland said his grandma nized equipment. Along with the Clara told a story of when his great- neighbors, they ran a steam-powgreat-grandmother Ingeborg went ered threshing machine. In 1905, the Inter Urban Railroad into labor “she took off to her parents’ house in the dark, got lost and was built. Mike Helland said his greatgave birth in a ‘tall slew of grass and weeds,’ wrapped the baby in the grandfather did not want to sell the apron and spent the rest of the night needed acres for the rail service. So outside until she made her way back the acres were condemned and the home and sent her 4-year-old to Ole tracks were built anyway. Later, when the railroad was and Astrid’s with the message the

taken out, that land reverted to the Hellands. The railroad ended up being useful to the family as they would ride it into Des Moines quite often. Helland remembers bums who would ride the train. During the Depression, the family survived by growing a large garden and canning its harvest. Proof of that is the many canning jars that line the basement walls on the farmstead to this day. Also to help keep the farm in the family during hard times, the Hellands’ grandfather, Sanford, mowed the ditches along U.S. Highway 69 and drove a horsedrawn school bus for the Huxley schools to help pay property taxes. The sixth generation of Hellands is hoping the seventh will be ready to take over when it’s their turn. Charles Helland’s son, Dustin Helland, has a farming operation and Mike and Juli Helland’s sons, Nick (an agronomist with Monsanto) and Erik (an Iowa House Representative) have a vested interest in the farm and want to see it remain in the family. “Between the kids, there is at least interest to hopefully keep it in the family,” said Mike Helland. “This is the family place, it’s been in the family for 150 years and it means a lot,” said Juli Helland. “It’s also a responsibility. There are a lot of ties to this farm.” Nick Helland wrote of his farm that it’s a “way of life. Everyone that has roots in a family farm has invested more than just physical work to make the farm run, they have invested themselves.” Kriss nelson can be contacted at jknelson@frontiernet.net.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Webster County

A home base for extended family By KRISS NELSON Farm News staff writer DUNCOMBE — Settled along picturesque Brushy Creek near this northeastern community in Webster County is a farm family that recently celebrated its 100year anniversary on the land. The century-old farm, owned by Don and Shirley Doolittle, was established on March 1, 1912, by Shirley Doolittle’s grandparents, Mads and Emma Juhl. Family historian and Shirley Doolittle’s cousin, Paul Juhl, said Mads and Emma Juhl came to America from Denmark, with one child, to reunite with Juhl’s sister, Hannah Miller, in Fort Dodge. The Century Farm, where the Doolittles make their home, wasn’t the first farm the Juhls settled. It is believed they farmed in the area and possibly bought other farmland before finally settling on what is now considered the centerpiece of the family. “We hope to see the farm stay in the family,” said Shirley Doolittle. “Between our children, although a lot of the farmland is gone, we would like to see the homestead kept in the family. This is home base for a lot of the extended family.” Doolittle said her father, Chris Juhl, took over the farm shortly after it was purchased, in 1915. She and Don Doolittle became the owners in the fall of 1953. Although a lot of improvements have been made over the years, “this is still the original house,” Doolittle said. “We eat at the same table I did when I was young. I am

doolittle Century Farm Established: 1912 Generations: 3rd township: Washington Acres: 50 Awarded: 2012 truly blessed I can still enjoy the farm.” There was also a barn on the farm when the Juhls settled it. A second barn, Doolittle said, was built in the late 1930s, about the same time a corn crib was constructed. Many of the older out buildings are still standing, along with newer ones. The first settlers of the ground, Paul Juhls said, lived in a log cabin. The land was perfect for early settlers, featuring timber they could use for fuel. Water was abundant for the cattle, and there was good land for growing crops. “It was a prime spot and Mads knew that,” Juhl said. Doolittle said she recalled her father raised cattle and hogs, milked some cows and had some chickens. “Wednesday night we would go into Duncombe to sell goods,” Doolittle said. “It was creamery night.” When the pigs were ready for market, Doolittle said her father walked the 400- to 500-pound animals five miles up the road to the sale. Something that was most

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-Farm News photo by Kriss Nelson

dON aNd SHIrLey dOOLITTLe will receive their Century farm award at the iowa state fair this year. they enjoy living on the farm that her grandparents purchased in 1912 and feel blessed they are still able to enjoy it. likely a unique site. The Doolittles said some of the Paul Juhl said that although he She said her most fond memo- biggest changes they’ve seen at doesn’t own any part of the farm, ries are with her ponies and time the farm have been with the trees it still means a lot to him that it spent with friends. growing throughout their has remained in the family and is “I played with friend a lot and acreage. pleased with the changes the had fun on the farm,” Doolittle “There used to not be very vicinity has gone through. said. “My sister Bev and I had many trees,” Shirley Doolittle “I grew up in the area,” Juhl ponies and our dad liked horses, so said. “Dad planted some; other- said, “it is really nestled in along he was always sure to have some- wise Don has planted a lot.” Brushy Creek, which brings a lot thing here for us to ride.” The Doolittles will be receiving of people to enjoy the area and Later, when the Doolittles were their Century Farm award this the park was a huge change.” farming, the land proved to be still summer at the Iowa State Fair and productive earning them a Master are planning for all of their chilContact Kriss nelson at jknelson@frontiernet.net. Farmer award in 1982. dren and their families to attend.

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Woodbury County

Farm attests to family’s endurance By DOUG CLOUGH Farm News staff writer CORRECTIONVILLE — One thing for sure, Brieses know how to do a Century Farm celebration right. Over a four-day period, the family did everything from providing a live band to presenting a Fourth of July fireworks display for the surrounding rural community. Third-generation representative Fred Briese, 89, even won the fishing contest by landing a 7pound bass. Fred is the oldest member of the Briese clan, and the member with the most experience in the changes in farming over the years. “I started farming in 1942 when my dad was sick,” Briese said. “I started with a horse-drawn planter.” He figures he has been planting corn for 70 years straight. There are other benchmarks for the eldest Briese, of course. “In 1936, things were so dry we weren’t able to feed cattle, so we had to get rid of them,” he said. ”My wife (Doris) and I had a great life “We didn’t have much money or much other than farming going on, but we made it. We spent a lot of time in the Sioux City stockyards where there were a half mile of pens at least.” Fred and Doris Briese bought cattle every week from the stockyards. In addition to the 250 head they owned at their peak, they also took 70 hogs from farrow to finish. “I enjoyed all of farming, but really enjoyed all the different ways we worked with our horses in the early days,” Briese said.

Briese Century Farm Established: 1911 Generations: 4th township: Rock Acres: 160 Awarded: 2011 “We mowed alfalfa, stacked hay and scraped dirt away from the barn with four or five horses.” The Briese lineage began when August and Augusta Briese came from West Prussia in the late 1800s. Their son, Fred Sr., established the Century Farm’s original 160 acres in 1911. With wife Minnie, they had six boys, one of which was Fred Jr. Not only was Fred Jr. interested in horses as a mode of productive farming, he took keen interest in Oliver tractors, which were sold by his uncle. “My first tractor was an Oliver Hart Parr,” he said. “I have a good half-dozen or so Oliver tractors at my home. “I enjoyed the horses, but it was good to have the tractors come along.” Both Fred Sr. and Fred Jr. were multi-commodity farmers. From the humble beginnings of the family farm, the two not only accommodated cattle and hogs, but chickens and other livestock according to the needs of the family. The grain produced on the farm

-Farm News photo by Doug Clough

aBOVe —the Briese Century farm overlooks the surrounding countryside of rock township in woodbury County. BeLOW — fred Briese Jr., seated on one of his oliver tractors, enjoys the company of the female side of the Briese family. the group is sitting in front of the family’s barn. “i remember starting off farming with horses,” Briese said. “we had four or five that we kept in the barn that did many different jobs.” Briese has a ‘half-dozen or so’ oliver tractors in his collection. was used primarily for livestock feed as opposed to the single or dual commodity farming practices of today. Fred Briese’s son, Brian, with wife, Pam, are on the farm as the fourth generation. Brian Briese and his father farm their combined 280 acres planting both corn and beans. Along with their two sons, Brian and Pam Briese hosted the aforementioned four-day party for family and friends during their farm’s 2011 celebratory year. Among the food, music and fireworks, the family took time for pictures in front of the barn emblazoned with ‘Briese’ at the top. The photos are immortalized on a CD for all relation to enjoy for years to come. One photo shows Fred Briese only lived to see the days of family. surrounded by his friends and horse and tractor power, but also Contact doug Clough family, surely happy he has not the endurance and strength of clough@gmail.com.

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friday, June 22, 2012

Wright County

Family’s sojourn ends ‘Wright’ By CLAYTON RYE Farm News staff writer BELMOND — Lee Aldrich can quickly and easily recount the long and circuitous path the Aldrich family took before settling on the Century Farm in Wright County’s Iowa Township. Having a family of genealogists is helpful when the first Aldrich family member arrived in the Plymouth Colony in 1630, just after the first Pilgrims and long before there was a United States of America. Aldrich said after Plymouth, there were moves to Rhode Island; Palmyra, New York; eastern Michigan; western Michigan; Quasqueton, Iowa; then to Kansas for two years before grasshoppers sent them back to Iowa. Aldrich said the family was farming at every location. After returning to Iowa, Aldrich’s great-grandfather returned to Quasqueton and then to the Century Farm near Belmond in 1883 where Lee and Lynne Aldrich have their home. “I am really grateful he settled in Wright County,” Aldrich said, considering the other places the family farmed and could have stayed. Aldrich’s great-grandfather was 53 when Aldrich’s grandfather was born in 1867. He was one of six boys and a girl. Up to the age of 13, Aldrich’s grandfather was known as “Pet.” His grandfather told him he needed to choose a name and told his son, Pet, about the generals of the recently fought Civil War.

aldrich Century Farm Established: 1883 Generations: 3 township: iowa Acres: 240 Awarded: 1983

-Farm News photos by Clayton Rye

THIS IS HOW the aldrich Century farm appears today. the barn becomes especially busy late in the year when it is used for the sale of Christmas trees.

THIS IS Lee aNd LyNNe aldrich on their Century farm. in the background are the acres Lee aldrich’s father told him not to farm, and where Lee planted his Christmas tree farm business. Aldrich said his great-grandfather supported the Union, but was an admirer of Robert E. Lee. His son chose the name R.E. Lee Aldrich, becoming the first of three generations with that name. Upon their return to Wright County, they rented land near the current Century Farm until the family could purchase the Century

Farm acres. Lee Aldrich’s grandfather was 16. When his grandfather was 14, he looked at a site and said, “I am going to put up buildings there.” That location is where the farm buildings of the Aldrich Century Farm stands today. In 1883 a small house and barn were built on the site by the first R E Lee Aldrich. He then built a 22-by24-foot, two-story, cube-style house on the farm in 1890. This was home to Lee Aldrich’s parents until his father died in 1981 and his mother moved off the farm in 1989. In 1977, Lee and Lynne Aldrich built the house they live in and the house of his parents located a short distance away on the same building site was torn down in 1993. Lee Aldrich’s grandfather pur-

 



chased three gilts of a breed known as Large White from neighbor J. D. Brooks in 1883 and drove them home. No additional females were bought again on the Aldrich farm and these became the seed stock until Lee Aldrich quit raising hogs in 2004. Aldrich said until 1968 the boars used were Hampshire, spotted Poland and Duroc to create a three-way cross. After 1968, Aldrich used boars from Farmers Hybrid. Upon quitting the hog business, Aldrich held back three gilts, a symbol of the original three, and held a pork barbecue for his friends and neighbors. Aldrich’s father told him there was a part of the farm that should







not be cropped because of its low productivity. Aldrich planted trees that were the beginning of the Aldrich Christmas tree farm. After several years of growing, someone suggested selling them as Christmas trees. Aldrich sold a few and eventually annual sales were as high as 1,000 trees during the Christmas season. Aldrich just completed planting 2,000 trees as replacements for this year. Lee and Lynne Aldrich are parents of three married sons — Forrest, Todd and Lance. Lance Aldrich is working his way into farming and will be the next generation of Aldriches to operate the Century Farm. Contact Clayton rye at crye@wctatel.net.


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www.farm-news.com

farm news / fort dodge, iowa

89

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90

farm news / fort dodge, iowa

INLAND TRUCK PARTS & SERVICE

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friday, June 22, 2012

INLAND TRUCK PARTS & SERVICE

5000 Harbor Drive • Sioux City • IA

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With a Price That Fits Your Budget Whether you’re in the market for a storage building, horse barn or farm shop, Morton Buildings can construct a building that meets your needs without breaking your budget. From the initial meeting through the construction, you work with your Morton sales consultant and a team of dedicated employees to ensure you get a quality building that will remain stylish and functional for years to come. You deserve a quality building, you deserve a Morton building.

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515-386-3168 Jefferson IA

2012 Morton Buildings, Inc. All rights reserved. A listing of GC licenses available at mortonbuildings.com/ licenses.aspx. Reference Code 043.

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For information regarding pricing, sale and delivery of corn at POET始s IA Biorefineries, call:

1 2 3

Ashton 712.724.6604 800.322.6792

4

Emmetsburg 712.852.8700

5

Hanlontown 641.896.2500

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Gowrie 515-352.2612 877.351.2676

Jewell Ethanol is proven to greatly reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Since we grow the crops 515.827.6050 and process them right here at home, ethanol is creating a new multi-billion dollar economy in 877.222.7760 rural America. Coon Rapids This means a brighter future for all of us. POET wants you to be a part of America始s ethanol 712.684.5102 movement for energy independence.

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www.harvestintmfg.com West Bend J.B. Mertz & Sons, Inc. 515-887-4511 Grand Junction Neese, Inc. 515-738-2744

Laurens Olson Sales 712-358-2726 Lawton S&S Equipment 712-944-5751

Emmetsburg Woodford Equipment 712-852-3003 Zearing NESSA 641-487-7608 www.nessainc.com

Pomeroy & Hamburg Bluff Ridge, Inc. 877-468-2022 Audubon Vetter Equipment 712-563-4219

Onawa Vetter Equipment 712-423-1069 Everly Corn Belt Equipment 712-834-2661


ISU Extension and Outreach Outreach... ... Anticipates Issues... Issues...we we engage Iowans Acts in catalytic ways... ways...we we create educational opportunities Stays for the long haul... haul...we’re we’re embedded in communities

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Audubon County (Audubon) 712-563-4239

Calhoun County (Rockwell City) 712-297-8611

Cherokee County (Cherokee) 712-225-6196

Dallas County (Adel) 515-993-4281

Hamilton County (Webster City) 515-832-9597

Humboldt County (Humboldt) 515-332-2201

Marshall County (Marshalltown) 641-752-1551

Pocahontas County Webster County (Pocahontas) (Fort Dodge) 712-335-3103 515-576-2119

Boone County (Boone) 515-432-3882

Carroll County (Carroll) 712-792-2364

Clay County (Spencer) 712-262-2264

Greene County (Jefferson) 515-386-2138

Hancock County (Garner) 515-923-2856

Ida County (Ida Grove) 712-364-3003

O’Brien County (Primghar) 712-957-5045

Sioux County (Orange City) 712-737-4230

Woodbury County (Sioux City) 712-276-2157

Guthrie County (Guthrie Center) 641-747-2276

Hardin County (Iowa Falls) 641-648-4850

Lyon County (Rock Rapids) 712-472-2576

Osceola County (Sibley) 712-754-3648

Story County (Nevada) 515-382-6551

Wright County (Clarion) 515-532-3453

Buena Vista County Cerro Gordo County Crawford County (Denison) (Mason City) (Storm Lake) 712-263-4697 641-423-0844 712-732-5056

www.extension.iastate.edu www.extension.iastate.edu A26.0512


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2012 Century Farms  

A publication of Farm News depicting farms that have achieved the Century Farms status in the northwest and north central 33 counties of Iow...

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