Julie Buntjer / The Globe
Richard and Kerri Knips, along with children Sydney and Cole, are shown on their family’s century farm on June 2, 2021.
Knips family a fixture on rural Lismore farm since 1902 By Julie Buntjer email@example.com LISMORE — While it may not be the highest point in Nobles County, the view from the front windows of Richard and Kerri Knips’ rural Lismore home is a spectacular one that showcases rows of growing corn and soybeans, as well as rotating wind turbines in the distance. “If there’s one thing we do appreciate, it’s our view,” said Richard.
Of course, there’s much more to appreciate about living where they do — on land that has been in the Knips family since 1902. Richard and his wife, Kerri, purchased the 13-acre acreage in 2014, and purchased the remaining farmland in early January from his father’s estate. Applying for Century Farm status was one of the first steps they took after gaining ownership.
“We waited a long time to get out here — to gain ownership,” Richard said. “To continue this farm with my wife and children is huge for me.” While they are new owners of the farmland, Richard has farmed the land solely since June 1992 when, at age 23 he lost his dad, Earl, to cancer. Prior to that, starting from the time he was an infant, Richard seemed groomed to be a farmer.
He told of how his dad bolted an infant car seat inside the cab of the 4020 John Deere so that the youngest of his four children could ride along during field work. “I was the child that was extremely active at a very young age with my dad,” Richard said. “Anything he would let me do, I did — and some things he didn’t let me do.”
KNIPS: Page 10
Special to The Globe
Left: Gerhardt Knips purchased the land that is now a century farm in 1902. Right: Robert Knips was the second generation owner of the family farm in rural Lismore.
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Vogts celebrate 104 years on rural Magnolia farm
Special to Th
edding own on their w ry Vogt are sh en H d an y ar M day in 1907.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe
Debra and Alan Vogt stand near one of the original buildings on the farm, was once a summer kitchen.
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By Julie Buntjer firstname.lastname@example.org MAGNOLIA — Descendents of Henry and Mary Vogt are marking 104 years of family ownership on their rural Magnolia farm in Nobles County’s Westside Township this year. They are also celebrating the farm’s new designation as a Minnesota Century Farm. Alan and Debra Vogt are the third generation to own the plot of land originally settled as a tree claim. According to the property’s deed, Michael Cullen paid $4 for the quarter section in 1900 and sold the land in 1910 to William Rock. Seven years later, Henry Vogt purchased the 160-acre parcel. “There were several others that moved up to this area from Davenport,” said Alan Vogt, who still has relatives in the eastern Iowa quad city.
Davenport is where several families who emigrated from northern Germany settled initially, noted Alan, whose great-grandparents were from Todesfelde, Germany. Henry Vogt was born there in 1876 and came to America with his parents at about age 20. He married Mary Campbell in 1907 in eastern Iowa, and they moved westward to Nobles County. The couple rented a farm near Magnolia initially, but moved to Texas in 1909. When they discovered the land wasn’t good for growing potatoes, they returned to rural Magnolia. In 1917, they purchased the quarter section from William Rock in Section 8 of Westside Township. With a growing family — they had five daughters and a son — Henry Vogt had visions of making a good life and a living off the southwest Min-
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nesota land. Henry and Mary’s only son, Raymond, became the second-generation owner of the farm in 1949, while most of his sisters were gifted their own parcel or an equivalent amount of money. “Grandpa bought a lot of land,” Alan shared. The elder Vogt owned the original farm for 32 years, while Raymond, who lived to be 101, had the land in his name for 44 years. Alan and his wife became the farm’s owners 28 years ago. Today, the Vogt farm consists of 320 contiguous acres. In addition to growing corn and soybeans, they have three 1,200-head isowean swine finishing barns and raise hogs through the Pipestone System. Alan was one of the first investors, constructing his barns in the early 1990s.
VOGT FARM: Page 6
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120 acres, 120 years Nickel Century Farm in Nobles County initially purchased by family in 1901
By Ryan McGaughey email@example.com WORTHINGTON — A 120-acre parcel in Nobles County’s Elk Township is being recognized as a Minnesota Century Farm this year. It could have received that honor back in 2001. Members of the Nickel family had bought what tax records show was 480 acres in 1901, and by 1912 George NIckel had taken ownership. “George’s father, Adam, and uncle, Mike, had bought the land,” explained Jim Nickel, a direct descendant who has helped compile his family’s history. “Mike asked them to go to Minnesota and farm some of this land, as the tenant farming it had not paid any rent.” George and his brother, Henry, were raised by Mike and his wife, Lena. George and his wife, Frieda, had both come from Joliet, Illinois, and they thought the land in Nobles County would be a good opportunity for them. George was working for the railroad as a fireman at that time, but came from a family of farmers in Joliet. “They came to Reading on the Rock Island Railroad with whatever possessions they had,” Jim said. “There was a building site in the northwest quarter of Section 19 (one mile east and one mile north of Reading) where
Shown are siblings Margaret (Nickel) Ruesch (front, from left), George and Frieda. Back: Arvid (Bud), Alvin (Ted), Carl and Raymond. Special to The Globe they lived. This was 1911, and this was an 80-acre farm owned by his Uncle Mike.” In 1919, Jim continued, George and Frieda decided to build a place on the land George inherited from his father in the same Section 19 where they were living. “There were no buildings on it — it was just a bare piece of ground,” explained Leola Remmers, a granddaughter of George and Frieda and the owner of the property since 2016. “Shortly after they decided to put up the buildings, the chicken house was built first, and that’s where they lived until their house was built. That’s where Uncle Alvin — he was called
Ted — was born.” George and Frieda, along with Ted and their other children, Carl, Margaret and Raymond, all lived in the chicken house until their house was completed by Sodie Solderholm, who had also built the chicken house. In 1921, George and Frieda’s youngest son, Arvid (Bud), was born in the new home. Leola, one of Margaret’s children, grew up near Worthington Municipal Airport, on land that her brother, Leonard Ruesch, now lives on and farms. She retains early memories of the Century Farm that she now owns. “When our mother was down with rheumatism, Norma (sister) and I stayed with
Grandma and Grandpa Nickel,” she recalled. “She would always make us potato pancakes; that was her thing. I must have only been about 10.” Leola will be 83 on her next birthday, and has vivid memories of her childhood and grandparents.
“Grandpa was an affectionate man and every time he would leave to go somewhere, he would kiss Grandma and I would cry,” she said. “I have no idea why. “Grandpa and Grandma were still farming when I was a kid,” she added. “There was no indoor plumbing in that house, and there was the center furnace (in the basement) ... that was the only source of heat. It ran on cobs and coal.” Jim remembered that, in addition to farming, George was the treasurer for the Reading school district for a number of years. His family was not in favor of him running for the position and campaigned against him, but he still won. “George at that time farmed with horses and had a team of eight horses for farming,” Jim said. “He got his first tractor in 1936, an
Allis Chalmers WC. He also had 10 to 12 milking short horns and all milked by hand. “Milk was separated, and the cream sold skim milk fed to the calves and hogs,” he continued. “The cream and eggs were sold to buy the groceries. In addition, there was a large garden and big orchard of apple, cherry and plum trees. Hogs were butchered each year, and much of what they ate was grown on the farm. “Things were difficult during the Depression, and they almost lost the farm as they did not have money to pay the county tile tax assessment. George was able to borrow money from a friend to pay those tax assessments. Because of the Depression, George was always very conservative.”
NICKEL: Page 14
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Hodnefields stay busy on their Century Farm Original owner came to the United States from Norway By Ryan McGaughey firstname.lastname@example.org JACKSON — Peter and Sherri Hodnefield have been farming in Jackson County’s Hunter Township for more than 40 years. Their son, Nick, has lived and farmed at the site for the last eight years, while they’ve moved to a home along Loon Lake. The Hodnefields’ farm, however, has a much more extensive history, as it’s being recognized this year as a Minnesota Century Farm. As is the case with many area Century Farms, the tale of the Hodnefield’s prop-
erty begins with the story of immigrants. “The original owner was Carl Hodnefield and he originally came from Mosteroy, Norway,” Peter said. “He immigrated in 1904, at age 19, and lived in North Dakota for a while and started his farm work there. “Later, he traveled to Montana with the intention of homesteading, but he was not satisfied and he returned back to North Dakota,” Peter explained of his grandfather. “After he married his wife, Malina, they moved to Jeffers on land that belonged to Malina’s father. Then,
after three years, her father sold the land in Jeffers, and they moved to Jackson County in September 1914.” Carl and Malina initially rented another farm that belonged to Malina’s father in Hunter Township, and lived there and worked the land for about two years. In 1917, Carl bought two 80-acre tracts, also in Hunter Township, from Albert and Mary Schultz for $224 per acre. “There were two 80s right across the road from each other,” Peter said. “I know he had cattle and hogs, and he probably milked a few cows because I know
there were stanchions in the old barn.” Peter said the current farm house was constructed in 1922 with materials purchased from Montgomery Ward. Carl lived and farmed at the site until 1947, when son Ernest — one of 12 children, and later Peter’s father — took over. “Carl and Malina moved to the Twin Cities … and Dad bought the farm on a 30-year contract for deed,” Peter said. “He did a lot of livestock, too, and he had feeder cattle and farrowed pigs.” Ernest had previously attended the District 15 country school directly
across the road from his farm. Shortly after taking over the farm, he purchased a 1948 Case VAC tractor that remains in the family’s possession. A Farmall Super H tractor that is also still on the farm was bought in 1954. Peter, meanwhile, recalled that “as a kid, all I did was pick rock and walk beans all summer long” on the farm. He and his sister, Laurel, grew up on the property, and Peter started farming it in 1979 after his high school graduation. Ernest died in 1991, and Peter purchased the farm from his mother, Yvonne, in 1997.
He continues to farm with son Nic today; Nic and wife Lindsay have two children — Milo and Ada — who are the fifth generation to live in the Hodnefield farm house. “The home is still there and the old chicken barn, but that’s really it for original structures,” said Nic, adding the last cattle left the farm about the time he was learning to ride a bike without training wheels. Peter and his wife, Sherri, have another son, Eric, who lives nearby and works at AGCO as an engineer. Nic’s wife is also an engineer.
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THE GLOBE Special to The Globe
Left: Alan Vogt (front, center) is shown with his parents and siblings in this undated image. Right: Debra and Alan Vogt.
Special to The Globe
Left: Shown is an aerial view of the Alan Vogt farm in 1945. Right: This aerial photo of the Vogt farm was captured on Nov. 26, 2012.
VOGT FARM From Page 3
At the time, the swine industry was moving toward artificial insemination. As a producer, Alan said his options were to either put up a gestation barn at a significant cost or purchase shares in the swine producing cooperative. “Dad thought that was foolish,” Alan shared. “They kept me going, though. They
use the latest genetics.” Alan took over the farming operation from his dad in 1975, though it wasn’t his first choice for a career. After high school, he graduated from Mankato State University with a degree in business and then spent two years working in the Twin Cities before joining his dad in the farming operation. “Dad really wanted me to come back,” Alan said. “It’s probably the best decision I ever
made, coming back. It’s been a good life.” Alan met his wife shortly after she moved to Luverne in 1977. She taught family and consumer sciences (FACS) in the Luverne district for 32 years. “Our first date was a blind date to a Pipestone-Luverne football game at Pipestone,” Debra recalled. A native of Worthington, she was unfamiliar with farm life and not entirely sure she wanted to commit when Alan asked her to
marry him. “I said being in the city and I love water, coming out to this farm was going to be a whole new experience for me,” Debra shared. “I said to him, ‘If you put a swimming pool in at the farm, Christa and I would move out here.’ “We went with him to Sioux Falls to haul a load of pigs over and he pointed at a stock tank and said, ‘Would that do?’ I said yes and we moved out here,” she added with a grin. “It was a big 12-foot-
er, two and a half or three feet deep,” Alan added. “The kids had fun out here.” Debra didn’t start helping with the farming until her father-inlaw stopped, and now she does what she can to tend to the land. “It was hard to get used to (at first), but I wouldn’t trade it for anything now. I have flowers, a vegetable garden and do a lot of canning,” she said. Together, Alan and Debra raised three children on the farm.
Grown now, with children of their own, Christa resides in Menno, South Dakota and works as a paraprofessional in the school district; Laura is in Brookings, S.D., and works for “Prairie Doc,” a program on South Dakota public television and radio; and Jesson is a low-voltage electrician and resides in Wenatchee, Washington.
VOGT FARM: Page 9
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Minnesota recognizes 124 Century Farms in 2021 By Julie Buntjer email@example.com WORTHINGTON — The Minnesota State Fair and Minnesota Farm Bureau are recognizing 124 Minnesota farms as 2021 Century Farms. Each of the honored farms has been in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years, and consists of at least 50 acres. Century Farm families will receive a commemorative sign, a certificate signed by Gov. Tim Walz and the pres-
idents of both the state fair and Minnesota Farm Bureau. Since the program began in 1976, nearly 11,000 Minnesota farms have been recognized as Century Farms. Among the honored farms in southwest Minnesota — in addition to those printed in this special edition — is the Earl and Judith Enstad farm of rural Revere, in Cottonwood County. The 160-acre farm was originally settled by Peder and Ronnug Enstad in 1885 in the northwest quarter of Section 2,
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Ann Township. It has been home to four generations of the Enstad family. According to the present owners, the land was claimed from the U.S. land office in Tracy through a Timber Culture Statute. Peder Enstad was a fishmonger in Norway, going to the coast and buying a supply of fish to sell to his neighbors. Born in 1826 in Lesja, in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley of Norway, he married Ingeri, the widow of his older brother. Together, they had six children, four of
whom died as infants. Two years after Peder lost Ingera at age 39, he and the remaining children — their two and Ingeri’s three daughters from her first marriage — left Norway. They arrived in Quebec on July 7, 1869 and then traveled to Hanska, Minnesota, where many of his neighbors in Norway had settled the year before. While in Hanska, Peder married Ronnug and worked for the railroad in the Madelia and St. James area. In
1871, he walked to rural Revere and picked out his homestead. A year later, he loaded his family in a wagon, borrowed a team of oxen and moved them to their new home in Section 2, Ann Township, Cottonwood County. After the struggles and hardship of losing so many family members in Norway, Peder and Ronnug raised nine children and lived a full life. Peder died in 1919 at age 93, while Ronnug died in 1936 at age 90.
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Chandler family applies education to over 100 years of farming By Leah Ward firstname.lastname@example.org CHANDLER — Now four generations into farming on their rural Chandler farm, the Busman family is committed to using skills they learned in higher education to improving their operation. Simon and Annie Busman first began farming on the land in 1918, growing corn, small grain and hay and producing dairy. When Simon died in 1946, the mantel passed to their
son John. He continued the dairy with purebred Brown Swiss cows for a few years, then sold them to focus on feeder cattle and hogs. John taught his four sons, John, Mark, Lowell and Irv, all he knew about running a farm. “I learned a lot from my dad,” said the younger John. “He was a tinkerer, even as a kid.” John the elder was so handy that he actually built his own wind power on the farm in
the early 1940s, long before wind-powered electricity became a widespread implement. Inspired by his dad, John the younger went on to get a PhD in irrigation engineering. He worked in various fields for decades before returning to farming in the last few years. In fact, out of John Sr.’s children, only one decided to farm right out of college — the youngest, Irv.
CHANDLER: Page 13
Leah Ward/The Globe
Judy (left), Andy and John Busman currently work together to operate Busman Farms, June 10, 2021.
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VOGT FARM From Page 6
For Alan’s dad, there was nothing better than life on the farm. He quit school in the 10th grade to help his father on the farm. Back then, they had chickens and pigs and milk cows — just like everybody else. As one of six children, Alan’s life on the farm included all of the typical farm chores — feeding the livestock, baling hay, hoeing weeds in the beanfield and briefly milking cows before they were sold. “We had so much fun in the summers,” Alan shared. “We had three big tree houses — a double-decker to the north and two others to the east. We played out in the grove a lot.”
Now, Alan and Debra get to see their grandchildren share in those same traditions. They even planted arborvitae trees for their grandchildren to use as a fort. The barn, once filled with livestock, still stands today, though it gets used very little. A basketball hoop in the haymow when Alan was a kid is still up there. Alan and Debra had the old farmhouse, which was built around 1900, torn down in 2000. It sat just east of the home they built. Growing up in that old house, Alan said it was cold in the winter, with one little furnace in the basement carrying heat through the registers. “We put a lot of blankets on (in the upstairs bedrooms) and you didn’t
spend any extra time up there,” Alan recalled. His dad asked that the kitchen cupboards be saved from the old house and used in the new house. While they didn’t make the move, they were saved. “We’re still trying to figure out what to do with them,” Alan said. With all three choosing careers away from the farm, Alan said he doesn’t know what the future will bring to the plot of land that has been home to three generations of the Vogt family. “There are so many variables with the prices and the livestock, you don’t know where that’s going to go,” Alan said. For families who can stay on the land, though, the memories are as bountiful as the dreams.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2021 | 9
Special to The Globe
Alan and Debra Vogt of rural Magnolia are surrounded by their children and grandchildren in front of their home.
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10 | WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2021
THE GLOBE Special to The Globe
A recent aerial view of the Richard and Kerri Knips farm in rural Lismore.
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KNIPS From Page 1
From German roots
Richard represents the fifth generation of the Knips family to call this land in Lismore Township home. His great-great-grandfather, Gerhardt Knips, emigrated from Fulda, Germany and worked in the brewery business in Stillwater before moving across the state to Nobles County. He initially settled in Leota Township, just north of the 80-acre Lismore Township farm he purchased in 1902, at the time of Lismore’s founding. “He bought this as a retirement home because his (oldest) son, Robert, was going to continue farming
in Leota Township,” Richard shared. “He bought it when he was 70 years old,” added Kerri. Over the past 119 years, the acreage has hosted several different homes. The oldest house was moved to Magnolia and is still occupied today. There was a smaller house that was moved to Leota, and the home Richard grew up in, built in 1972, was moved off the acreage in 2000 and found its new home about four miles east-northeast of the Knips farm. Richard and Kerri built their new home on the site in 2014. “When Kerri and I married, we lived in Adrian for 20 years, but I was farming out here,” said Richard, who earned his bachelor’s degree in ag
business from Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, and then met Kerri, who was teaching third grade at Adrian. The original 80-acre parcel purchased by Gerhardt Knips was expanded to its present 267 contiguous acres thanks to land purchases by Richard’s ancestors. Richard has purchased land, and rents land, within a six-mile area of the home farm. While the size of the farm grew, the production of livestock dwindled. Back in Richard’s youth, his parents had a feeder cattle operation that he helped with, and then when he was in the sixth grade, he dabbled in hog production.
KNIPS: Page 14
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Leah Ward/The Globe
Left: Busswitz Farm inhabitants include two llamas, June 8, 2021. Right: Brian (left) and Pam Busswitz stand in front of the original barn, June 8, 2021.
Century farm built on generations of history By Leah Ward email@example.com WESTBROOK — A Murray County farmstead has earned its Century Farm designation thanks to more than 100 years of family ties on a little plot of land. Ernest and Caroline Cohrs were born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1870. After moving around a couple of times within Minnesota, they finally settled in rural Westbrook in 1894 and established a farm where they grew, oats, flax and corn. After Ernest’s death, son and daughter-inlaw Henry and Christine Cohrs took over the farm, then later passed it to their daughter, Christine. Chris-
tine married Leander Busswitz, and the two continued the family legacy. Leander and Christine’s grandson Brian Busswitz currently runs the farm and grows corn, soybeans — “and rocks,” he joked. He grew up on the family farm and shared many happy memories of his grandparents. Christine, or Grandma Tini, “was the true personality of the whole bunch,” said Brian’s wife, Pam. “She was the nicest grandma I could ever have,” Brian recalled. “She would always think you were more important than she was.” Tini didn’t just have a big heart. She was also a master of many
trades, including crochet, poetry and baking. “She was born with an apron on,” Brian said, sharing that Tini spent many hours in the kitchen making all kinds of delicious treats. She would watch television and peel apples into her apron, then when she was finished would gather the ends of her apron and carry the peels to the compost pile. Tini fed her children and grandchildren both physically and spiritually. Many family events, like weddings, baby showers and funerals, included Tini reciting a poem she had written for the occasion. She also wrote poems about her loved ones, commemorating
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theiir legacies lega gaci cies es in in ink. ink. their Her poems now exist as a cohesive volume for enjoy her progeny to enjoy. Leander and Tini ran the farm together for 50 years. When their two older boys left to fight in Vietnam, Leander needed another set of hands, so third son Marvin, Brian’s father, quit school to help out on the farm — an ironic outcome, Brian noted, as Leander was on the school board for 30 years. Marvin would later take over the farm in 1982. Although he discouraged his son from farming full-time (it was too unpredictable a career), Marvin wasn’t able to scare Brian away. “I always wanted to farm,” Brian said. “I
jus love it.” just at his hi s However, at father’s urging, Brian went to trade school in Canby and became a certified equipment mechanic. As it turns out, his skill has come in handy on the farm countless times. In addition to managing 74 acres of crops, Brian and Pam also have quite the menagerie on their property. They’ve always got a few farm cats, plus a friendly dog, but their most exotic addition is a pair of llamas, Sweetie and Sassafras. The llamas are a never-ending source of entertainment for the couple, who love watching the llamas’ personalities emerge. When they’re not tending the crops, gar-
d de n or or pets, pets etts, s, Pam Pam a an nd d den and Bria Br ian n (but (b butt mostly mos m ostl tly y Pam) Pam)) Brian also run a an n an anti antiques tiqu ques es shop out of the barn, barn the only remaining original building on the property. Pam curates the inventory of glassware, furniture, toys and books, while Brian helps with maintenance of the old building. The barn still has remnants of its past, including horse numbers and an old account book showing the purchases of Brian’s ancestors, but it primarily serves as a showroom for other relics. Brian and Pam are still learning about the Busswitz roots, but for now, they’re content to appreciate the heritage that makes their home their “own little piece of paradise.”
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12 | WEDNESDAY, JUNE 30, 2021
Benson farm reaches 138 years of family ownership in Rock County By Julie Buntjer email@example.com GARRETSON, S.D. — Located on the far western edge of Rock County — so far, in fact, that their mailing address is Garretson, South Dakota — the descendants of Nels Benson continue to farm a quarter section of land that has been in their family for 138 years. Nels Benson emigrated from Telemark, Norway when he was 27 years old after his family endured years of the European potato failure. He made the trek alone, and settled in the southwest quarter of Springwater Township Section 30, Rock County, after acquiring his land from the United States. “He took out a mortgage on the land with Ormsby Brothers,” said Eric Benson, the great-great grandson of Nels and owner of the Benson farm since last year. After arriving in America, Nels met and married Esthru (Astrid), another Norwegian immigrant, and they made their home in rural Rock County, raising eight children. One of the family’s prized documents is a letter written by Esthru’s pastor in Norwegian, saying her family were good people and to be trusted. With the letter is a family tree of the John Johnson family, of which she was a daughter.
Nels and Esthru constructed the home that still stands today on the Benson farm and is home to Eric Benson and his family. It’s believed the house was built around 1900, though it isn’t known what was used for living quarters prior to that. After Esthru died in 1926, Nels continued to farm the land until his death in 1934. Their son, Bert, took ownership of the land at that point. It’s believed he purchased it from his siblings. Thirty-four years after Bert gained ownership of the land and spent those years farming, his sister, Ethel, became its owner when he died in 1970. The two had lived together on the farm all those years, doing a major renovation and addition to the house in the 1950s. “They were more like grandparents to me,” shared Tim Benson, Eric’s dad. “My grandfather I never knew, and my grandmother lived in Sioux Falls. We used to come to Bert and Ethel’s for 7-Up and butterscotch candies.” Tim’s parents were Arthur “Nels” and Gladys Benson, and it was Gladys who became the farm’s fourth owner in 1974. Gladys, however, didn’t live on the acreage, selling it to son Tim and his new bride, JoEllen, after they were married in 1976. While
Tim farmed the land, he had a contract for deed arrangement with his mom. Gladys died in 2009, and it wasn’t until 2020 that Tim and Eric each purchased half of the farm to keep it in the family. Tim and JoEllen raised three children on the Benson farm in Springwater Township, in addition to feeding cattle, raising stock cows and finishing hogs. They quit raising hogs in about 1994, and the last of the cattle left the farm a decade ago, about the same time they built a new machine shed/shop on the farm. Today, the Bensons grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They use variable rate fertilizer, variable rate planting, yield mapping and section control on their sprayer. “We practice minimum tillage on the farm,” Tim shared, adding that they have incorporated some terraces and contours into the land. “This year we actually no-tilled some because it was so dry.” They market their grain to CHS in Jasper, New Vision Co-op in Hills and Beaver Creek, and the ethanol plant in Luverne. They are invested in Minnesota Soybean Processors in Brewster, but because of the distance they don’t typically market their beans there.
Julie Buntjer / The Globe
Eric and his dad, Tim, Benson stand in front of the large house on the Benson farm, built around 1900. The farm was settled by Nels Benson 138 years ago.
Special to The Globe
The Benson family farm as it appeared in this aerial photograph from July 1969. For Eric, who grew up on the newly designated century farm, seeing it recognized for its history was important. “I just want the people before me to be recognized,” he said, adding that the farmland is the most productive of the land they farm. Eric and his wife, Adria, live on the home-
stead where they are raising the sixth generation of Bensons to call the land home. They have a son, Gus, who will be two in July, and are expecting twins within the month. Some day, they will be exploring the farm just as Eric did as a child. He was the youngest of three kids with two
older sisters. “I had a treehouse in the grove,” Eric said. “It was fun to learn to drive tractors and all of that. “The JD2940 was the first thing I really learned how to drive,” he added. “I suppose I’ve been on 100 tractors over time, but that’s the one I’ll remember.”
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A 1940s photo of the Busman homestead shows how the buildings have changed in the last 80 years.
Leah Ward/The Globe
Andy Busman demonstrates the farm’s computerized feed grinding system, June 10, 2021.
CHANDLER From Page 8
Irv was a mechanical engineer by trade, and he used his skills extensively on the farm. During his tenure as the steward of the Busman farm, he built and customized a lot of farm equipment himself. The farm implements are designed to plant corn in 20-inch rows (most U.S. farmers prefer 30 inches, although 20 is becoming more popular), which is only possible thanks to Irv’s expertise. Irv was also an early adopter of technology. In 1992, he installed a computerized feed
grinder that mixes various ingredients (and medicine, if needed), grinds them into meal and delivers them into the hog barn. The system — which runs MS-DOS, Microsoft’s 1980s operating system — is still in use today. Like his father and grandfather, Irv’s son, Andy, also benefitted from a wealth of generational knowledge. “Dad had a way of teaching and passing down ideas,” he said. “Sharing without being condescending.” Some of his most cherished moments growing up the farm were of running the grain cart while Irv drove the combine — “getting Dad’s view on the world,” as he
described it. “It was really cool to have the one-on-one time.” When Andy became an adult, he decided to follow in his dad’s footsteps. He went to Southwest Minnesota State University to get a degree in agribusiness so he could use his education to farm. “Ultimately, the goal was to come back and farm with Dad,” he said. However, Andy’s dreams were crushed when Irv died in 2013 — Andy’s senior year of college — from pancreatic cancer. After completing his degree, he did return home to farm, but instead of doing it alongside his dad, he took over the majority
of the farm’s operations himself. “It was a baptism by fire,” Andy recalled of the experience. The good news is, he wasn’t alone. In the aftermath of Irv’s death, the closest neighbors became mentors for Andy. Jeff Lais, in particular, took on a paternal role, helping Andy navigate his newfound responsibility. Today, Andy runs the 1,500-acre Busman Farms with help from his mom, Judy, and his uncle John. The guys consider Judy to be the president of the farm. As a teacher in the Fulda district, she is in town often, so Judy runs a lot of errands on farm
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and John enjoys the problem-solving part of the work, as well as the fact that every day is something new — the land and weather are always changing, which affects how farmers work. While John and Andy primarily work on the crop side of Busman Farms, Andy’s older sister, Jessamy, runs wean-to-finish hogs, about 650 at a time, just a couple miles down the road. Andy usually keeps a few feeder-to-finish hogs in the yard, but Jessamy is the real swine expert. The Busmans are 103 years into family memories on the farm, and they’re not done yet.
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business. During the summers, she handles lawn maintenance. Making it through some tough years has built Andy’s confidence as a farmer. To this day, one of his favorite parts of the job is watching the sprouts peek through the dirt and enjoying the fact that he was successful in growing his crops. “I like having an excuse to be in the outdoors,” Andy said of farming. He also loves that farming isn’t exactly the same every day, but there’s a range of work that’s included. For John, the best part is change. “I like challenges,” he said. There’s always a new challenge to work through on the farm,
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NICKEL From Page 4
Sons Raymond (Ray) and Alvin served in World War II, with Ray in the U.S. Coast Guard and Alvin in the U.S. Army both serving overseas. Raymond Nickel Jr. later spent many summers on the Elk Township farm, coming from his family’s home in Chicago. Arvid, the youngest son, had to stay home to
KNIPS From Page 10
“I started buying a small number of hogs and fed hogs through high school,” he said. “When the whole industry changed and went to isowean, I didn’t have the newer style barns and it was either get in bigger or get out. I didn’t have the land to put them on.” His parents exited the cattle feeding business in 1984. “One thing I’ll always remember is when school was two hours late, it wasn’t sleep in-time — it was time
help with the farming during the war. When Alvin got home from the service, he farmed with his dad. When George died at age 75 in July 1958, Alvin took over the farm and later quit farming. At that time, George and Frieda’s oldest son, Carl, moved on the place and farmed it until his retirement. Frieda, meanwhile, moved to Worthington shortly after her husband’s death and lived
in a small house on Clary Street. She died in May 1978. After Frieda’s death, the farm was sold to Margaret and husband Robert Ruesch in 1979. “I think mother and dad took the barn down pretty early,” Leola said. “The original chicken house caught on fire years and years ago,” added Jim, who is Leola’s cousin. “Our parents never really talked a lot about
it,” said Don Nickel, Jim’s brother and another cousin of Leola. “I asked Dad about his grandparents, and he didn’t really have a lot of recollection.” Robert and Margaret continued to farm the land until 1988, at which point it was farmed by their son, Larry. Robert preceded Margaret in death, and Margaret died in 2013. Leola became the owner of the farm when Margaret’s estate
was settled three years later. That year — 2016 — was also when the farm’s house was razed. Larry continued to farm on the land until 2019, and Mark Ruesch — the great-great grandson of George and Frieda — farms the 120 acres today. Leola finds ways to keep herself busy today, as Jim said “she’s still milking cows every morning and night”
while helping her son, Gary. She and her husband, Louis, had purchased a farm six miles south of Storden back in 1962; they still own it today but now have a farm three miles south of that site. They built a house on the new farm in 1996 and still live there. The couple has three children: Gary, Ryan and Cindy. “I consider myself very lucky to have a Century Farm,” Leola said.
to clean out bunks,” Richard shared. His parents purchased cattle from western South Dakota, and Richard said it was always an exciting time when a new truckload would come in. “As a young kid, I very quickly learned every face of every steer,” he said. And there’s always stories to share about the steers that are nice, and the ones you need to stay away from. Richard recalled one time when he was helping sort cattle and one steer met his gaze and “he was sizing me up,” he said. “He charged me and barreled overtop of me. He stepped
right around me, but never stepped on me. “My dad yelled from 25 feet over — he kind of ripped into me a little bit,” Richard added with a grin. “Mom said, ‘Dad’s just a little excited — don’t take it serious’ and he yells, ‘Take it serious!’” Richard said he would have liked to stay in the cattle industry, but living in Adrian for 20 years made that difficult. “We’re grain farming now, corn and beans,” he added. “Initially we had 33 chickens,” shared Kerri. “The kids (Sydney and Cole) were selling them to the Magnolia Cafe. They did that for two years.”
Today, they have just eight chickens on the farm. All of the buildings Richard recalled from his childhood on the farm are mostly gone, including a pair of stave silos and bunker silos he took down in 2016. The exception is a machine shed and a brick building in the center of the yard that was built in the 1920s as a garage. “We built a majority of the grain storage and a shop,” Richard said. “In 2016, we built a cold storage machine shed.” While Richard intends to continue farming, it remains to be seen whether the next gen-
eration will continue the tradition. Daughter Sydney completed two years at Minnesota West Community & Technical College and will transfer to Southwest Minnesota State University this fall. She is studying business management, with a minor in accounting. Son Cole, meanwhile, will be a senior this fall at Adrian High School. “With everything going on in the world and the way the industry has changed, time will tell,” Richard said. “It’s up to the kids.” For now, they’re gaining experience in farm life. Sydney has operated the cultivator and planter a bit, and
Cole does a lot of rock picking, operating the skid loader and lawn mowing. “They’re starting to get more and more involved,” Richard said, adding that Kerri left her teaching job to help him farm once their home was built. “Our wish is that if they want to be involved, we have an open door,” added Kerri. “I believe you have to do what you like to do,” Richard shared. “We tell Sydney and Cole that if their interest does lie here, we’ll do our best to help where we can.”
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