Today's Farm

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Today’s Farm ’s


ABOVE: A sign at the end of the driveway shares the Century and Heritage farm designations for the family. Special to The Globe

150 years, five generations of farming

MAIN: Gary and Jessa Wolter stand with their heritage farm certificate in front of their rural Allendorf, Iowa home. The original portion of the home was built in 1900, and has been added onto twice. Julie Buntjer / The Globe


ALLENDORF — Christian Krueger was 20 years old, the oldest of 12 children, when he set out for a better life in America. He left his home of Wurttemberg, Germany, behind, ending up initially in Reedsville, Wisconsin. His occupation was listed as farmer and gardener when he came to the United States, and it was his dream to have a farm of his own. While in Reedsville, Christian met Wilhelmina Beyersdorff; they married in 1852. Twenty years later, they made their way west, staking a claim on a quarter section in Osceola County, east of Sibley, Iowa. It wasn’t until several years later that the small town of Allendorf formed about a mile south of their farm.

Wolter family honored for rural Allendorf Heritage Farm

“They homesteaded the quarter right here, and a few years later they homesteaded the 80 acres right next to it,” said Gary Wolter, great-greatgrandson of Christian and Wilhelmina. Christian and Wilhelmina lived in a dugout they constructed just below a hill on the property, offering protection from a north wind, until they were able to build a home. An indentation marking their first home was visible to future generations. Gary had wanted to dig up the site years ago, but his dad said he wouldn’t find anything because Christian and Wilhelmina didn’t have anything. The settlers worked hard to grow crops, harvest, build a proper home and shelter for their livestock. In order to claim the land as theirs, they had to plant 10 acres of trees on

the quarter and live on the land for five years. “I don’t know how they survived,” Gary said. “I don’t know if they got in their buggy and just started going west and they got this far and figured that’s far enough. “Most of eastern Iowa was already homesteaded,” he added. Christian and Wilhelmina had 10 children, the youngest of which was born on the Osceola County homestead on July 9, 1872. Of their 10 children, just six survived to adulthood. They lost one at age 7, one at age 4, one at age 1.5 and one at age 9 months. The oldest son of the family, Fred, purchased the original 160-acre homestead from Christian in 1895, and added the adjacent 80-acre parcel that Christian had also homesteaded,

in 1909. Christian, meanwhile, went on to settle or purchase numerous parcels across the country, owning land in South Dakota, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

House becomes a home By the time Fred purchased the homestead, he and wife Louisa (Schossow) Krueger had already been married for 21 years. They were the parents of eight girls and five boys. Fred had farmed the land alongside his dad Christian, but the family had other pursuits as well. “Christian and his boys built the Klondike dam and flour mill in Klondike, Iowa,” shared Gary. “People from all over the country would bring their wheat there.”

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What will be the final story? MIKE DIERKS

MN West Farm Business Management

WORTHINGTON — The University of Illinois published a good article recently that states farmers should have another good year. In fact, they went as far as to suggest it could be another great year. Even though their article is referencing the entire Corn Belt, I struggle when an article thinks about national averages and makes broad statements regarding farming. I say this because there will be areas that are great but also areas that are not great across the Corn Belt. Some people now define the Corn Belt more as a box reaching from Michigan to Kentucky to Kansas to North Dakota. The diversity this area has between soils and topography and weather patterns will cause different growing conditions in communities across our country and create a variety of yields. Here’s my analysis of our own backyard in southwest Minnesota. Last year, some people had bumper crops while others in the same county had a disaster yield. This factor alone can significantly affect a farmer’s income level. Then, there is the price offered at the different locations within our immediate area. Last year at harvest, some elevators needed corn on one end of the county and offered a big premium, while others did not have to offer a premium. During the past two years, large price swings have caused big differences in farm income levels. So these two scenarios paint a different picture in just our small area. If you hit both a high price and high yield last year, you had a fantastic year; if you hit both of those items on the low

side last year, you had a disaster. All this happened within 30 miles of each other last year in our local area. A prediction of a great year will probably hold true for the Illinois article from a national average standpoint, but some local areas around the country could still struggle. Income is only half of the farming outlook. The cost to produce products is the second part of the equation. The war between Russia and the Ukraine, continuing supply disruptions, higher fuel costs and increasing interest rates have stirred inflation numbers to levels not seen since 1980. My definition of inflation is — what you can buy today for a dollar you cannot buy tomorrow for a dollar. The Federal Reserve will try to slow inflation and is expected to raise interest rates again this month in an attempt to slow down this runaway inflation. This would be the fourth rate hike this year. Let me point out a few changes during the past year and a half that support the idea inflation is valid today: Fuel prices have tripled, food prices are up over 20% in many categories, try buying something made with lumber or even a simple thing like paper products. All of these items cost far more today than 18 months ago, so inflation is irritating our economy. Inflation is definitely frustrating the farm world as well. Besides the items listed above, fertilizer prices for some have doubled, chemical costs for many have increased 35%, and most repairs are costing twice the amounts paid earlier. To estimate if a farmer is going to have a good year, you have to estimate a yield and potential price, and subtract the costs to produce that product. Farms also need equipment and labor to operate. Farms usually have to purchase health insurance and pay selfemployment taxes. The easiest way to describe a farm’s

success is to earn enough income to pay for all production costs, including machinery and family living expenses. In southwest Minnesota, it will take a good yield and some better than normal commodity prices to cover all of these inflationary input costs. It’s impossible to predict a great year here because things have not been consistent with rain or commodity markets. There are spots in our area that missed rains and they will not get a good crop. Prices for commodities have been moving up and down, but input costs have only been increasing. Some producers sold their crops too early this year, discovering later their input prices had risen higher than the commodity prices they had already sold. For this group, if they are in that low producing area that received limited rain, then they are not going to have a good year. For a few with great rains, if they sold at a higher price they will have a great year. It seems like last year has a twin, with a few great stories and a few troubled stories, and everyone else falling somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. It will be an interesting

winter to evaluate how good 2022 was for farming — if there is a repeat theme of higher incomes and higher costs. It will depend on individual yields and specific prices the producer sold their commodities for, along with how many additional expenses that had to be purchased for this year. Hopefully, the theme of having more income than total expenses comes out as the final story. Don’t forget to thank a farmer for their hard work. The United States still has the safest and most abundant supply of food in the world.

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WOLTER From Page 1

The dam was built on the Big Sioux River, right along the state line near Canton, South Dakota. The Kruegers hauled rocks onto the ice during the winter, and when the ice melted, the rocks fell to the river bed and that’s how they established the dam. At the homestead, Fred and Louisa are believed to have built the home that still stands today, through two major additions and renovations in the last 120 years. “Christian and his wife built a little white building for their first house,” said Gary. “It was farther west. There was a flat rock there that was the foundation for the first house. “When they built this house, they moved (that one) up … and used the lumber to build a new chicken house.” The new house was built in 1900, consisting of a rock cellar, main floor and upstairs. They built an addition in 1918. “I always thought if I lived here, I’d jack the house up and take out the cellar and build a new basement, but that never happened and it ain’t gonna now,” Gary said. The house underwent a second addition and renovation in 2005, when Gary and Jessa added a sitting room, as well as a combination laundry and main-floor bathroom. “Before that, I was doing laundry in the cellar,” said Jessa, noting her use of a Maytag wringer washer until 2005 and carrying water up and down the cellar stairs. With the main floor addition, she finally got an automatic washing machine.

From Krueger to Wolter

Of Fred and Louisa’s 13 children, oldest daughter Alice — married to Frank Wolter — became the third generation owner of the farm. A preacher from Allendorf is credited with their introduction — he took Alice to Fonda, Iowa, to meet Frank. “At the time, Frank was raising a niece and nephew because their parents died,” Gary said. Alice and Frank initially stayed in Fonda, and a couple of years after they were married, they moved to the rural Allendorf homestead and purchased the 240acre farm from Fred and Louisa. In addition to raising Frank’s niece and nephew, the couple had eight children together (one died at age 2),


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Standing to the right of the original garage on the farm is a building that has always been called the old house. Though it was never used as a house on the Krueger-Wolter homestead, Gary believes it was moved from farm to farm by his great-great-grandfather, Christian, as he settled tree claims on neighboring parcels. Julie Buntjer / The Globe

Grandpa Wolter always had a car, but he never had a tractor and he wouldn’t drive a tractor. He said you’ll always need horses. ~ Gary Wolter and raised another orphaned child. They also raised Belgian horses on the farm. “Grandpa Wolter always had a car, but he never had a tractor and he wouldn’t drive a tractor,” Gary said. “He said you’ll always need horses.” When Frank and Alice retired, their oldest son, Floyd, became the farm’s fourth owner. “Frank gave each of his kids 80 acres,” said Gary. One of the kids went to farm the land by Fonda, Floyd and Ralph split the quarter that was the original homestead, and Bob received the 80-acre parcel west of the homestead. Daughters Clara and Eleanor split a quarter section and, of that, 80 acres remains in the family as it’s owned by Eleanor’s daughter-in-law. When Ralph decided not to farm, Floyd purchased his 80-acre parcel, and when Bob decided to quit farming, Gary bought his 80-acre parcel for a mere $1,000 an acre. Gary and Jessa later bought the original 160-acre parcel with the homestead from his parents. “Dad had milk cows, beef cattle, chickens, sheep,

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hogs — just about everything,” recalled Gary, the second-born of Floyd and Nadine’s four children. He has one older brother and two younger sisters. Of the boys, it was Gary who wanted to be a farmer. “That’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said. “In fact, I quit high school because it was interfering with my education. “My folks made me go, but junior year, half the time I wouldn’t even go to school,” he added. “Dad said if I wasn’t going to go to school, I had to stay home and work. That’s what I wanted to do.” A couple of years later, with a potential war looming on the horizon, Gary succumbed to his older brother’s requests to enlist in the Army — it was his brother’s wish to serve. When they both went for their physicals, Gary was accepted and his brother, who had epilepsy, was not. “We were both unhappy,” Gary recalled. He went off to serve — to get it over with — before starting his own life’s dream of farming.

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Weed management continues at harvest LIZABETH STAHL U of M Extension

WORTHINGTON — Driving through the countryside close to harvest time, it is not too hard to find fields where weeds are poking through the soybean canopy. Although a few plants here and there may not have affected soybean yield much this year, weed escapes can have a dramatic impact on future weed problems, especially considering that one waterhemp plant can produce up to 250,000 seeds or more. Economic impacts of weed escapes can also be felt at the elevator and via export markets. What can you do to help prevent weed escapes from giving you future headaches?


► Was there an issue with the application? ► Did you use the right herbicides, rates and proper adjuvants? ► If you used a tank-mix, were there any antagonism issues between tankmix partners? ► How big were the weeds at the time of application (remember, the goal is to target weeds less than 4 inches high when making postemergence applications) and were weeds actively growing? ► Did you use the right carrier volume, droplet size and spray pressure? ► Was your sprayer properly calibrated, or did you have any clogged nozzles? ► Do you have weeds that are resistant to the herbicides applied? Poor weed control can be a symptom of many different issues, so proper diagnosis of the problem(s) can help prevent issues in the future.


Weed infestations often start from field edges and fence rows. Left untouched,

weeds can be picked up by the combine, resulting in the spreading of weed seed well into the field. Tillage can then spread weed seeds even further across the field. Mowing these areas can help prevent or minimize seed production.


Waterhemp is the No. 1 weed escape in fields across southwest Minnesota. Waterhemp and other pigweed species can produce viable seed within 10 days of pollination, according to University of Illinois research. Once viable seed is produced, it is important to carry waterhemp plants out of the field rather than simply dropping them on the soil surface when hand-pulling weeds.


Make maps of weedy areas to help plan weed management strategies for next year. Segregate weedy areas of fields and harvest these spots last to help prevent the spread of weed seed into cleaner areas. Combines are remarkably effective dispersal mechanisms for weed seeds,

so check field entrances for new weeds. If you must run the combine through weedy areas (e.g. hand weeding is just not feasible), thoroughly clean out the combine afterwards to prevent the spreading of weed seeds to other fields. See combinecleanout for combine cleanout strategies. Also, be on the lookout for Palmer amaranth (https://bit. ly/3UekhCm). Report any suspect plants through the MDA “Report the Pest” website at


International customers for U.S. soybeans, including China, are rejecting soybean shipments that have more than 1% foreign material (FM). FM includes any material that is not soybean seed, so weed seed plays a significant role in this issue. See the University of Minnesota website on Managing FM at to learn more.



Preparing for African Swine Fever DAVE STENDER

ISU Extension swine specialist

PRIMGHAR, Iowa — Pork producers are concerned about foreign animal diseases, so recently a workshop was held to help producers begin preparing for a future outbreak. One of the diseases most concerning to swine producers is African Swine Fever (ASF). The disease was confined to Africa, where it is endemic, but from Africa it moved north infecting wild pigs and commercial swine production in Russia. A few years ago, it spread to China and has since infected Southeast Asia and much of Europe in the wild pig population. A little over a year ago, the disease entered the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The rapid spread of this disease and the proximity to the continental U.S. has producers concerned. It is also a concern for those of us that like to eat pork and bacon. The good news is that pig diseases are typically not people diseases, and there is no human health concern regarding an outbreak of ASF. The meat will still be safe to eat. However, what will happen for pork consumers is likely price swings based on supply and demand. If ASF comes to the U.S., the pork sold to other countries will have to be consumed locally

because other countries do not want to risk infecting their own swine. Exports won’t resume until producers can show that U.S. pork is ASF-free, or a country decides to open U.S. pork imports. At first, pork prices will likely be reduced because of the drop in pork exports; however, the longer it takes to eradicate the disease, the more difficult it will be to maintain a large supply of pork, which will likely cause pork prices to increase. To respond to this challenge, the industry has been working on prevention, which includes verifying premises identification, enhancing biosecurity, and maintaining detailed records. There is a Swine Health Improvement Plan,

abbreviated SHIP, that will be used by the industry to lessen the impact ( Additionally, dogs are currently used at airports to stop infected product from entering the U.S. Still, two major risks are garbage feeding and foreign travel. Thankfully, most states have outlawed garbage feeding to swine or have specific rules for cooking garbage. However, in states with wild hog populations, this is still a concern as the animals may consume trash that has been thrown on the ground. Foreign travel is a risk because the virus is hardy. Travelers coming back from an infected country should disinfect their shoes and stay away from all swine

including wild pigs for a minimum of five days. Whatever is done to lessen the risk, it is impossible to eliminate the risk. If ASF breaks in the U.S., there is a plan in place to eradicate the disease as quickly as possible. A team from the United States Department of Agriculture will work with the Iowa Department of Ag and Land Stewardship, and producers will be asked to stop moving pigs for at least 72 hours, to depopulate infected pigs, and to have a disposal plan in place. Producers are encouraged to work with Extension to help them with preparation plans in case of an outbreak.

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A view of the Krueger-Wolter homestead just prior to one of Gary and Jessa Wolter’s retirement auctions a few years ago. Special to The Globe

WOLTER From Page 3

Gary meets Jessa

After Gary served his stint in the U.S. Army from 1956-58 — which included one and a half years in Berlin, Germany — he moved to a farm near Harris and operated a farm across the road from his parents north of Allendorf. “I’d milk cows there and I’d get done doing chores at night and run to Allendorf to get a nice, thick chocolate malt,” he said. “And I still make them,” Jessa said with a laugh. She was working behind the counter at Oldenkamp’s Cafe when he’d come in. “I’m six years younger (than Gary),” she said. “There were no girls left around his age when he got back from the service.” After the couple married, they rented a farm two miles east of Allendorf. “It was all hills and pasture and rock,” Gary said. “Not a good farm, but that’s where we lived until we moved here 44 years ago,” Jessa added. The son of their landlord decided to farm, which forced them to move. That’s when Gary’s dad suggested they move to the home farm. “Dad said I should farm this. He

was old enough to quit, but he wasn’t moving to town,” Gary said, adding that his parents built a home for themselves on the southeast corner of the parcel.

Milking Jerseys

When Gary and Jessa moved to the Wolter family farm, they brought their herd of Jersey cattle with them. Gary’s dad had only some Shetland ponies by that time, so there was room for the milk cows. Gary was in high school FFA when he purchased his first Jersey heifer from a guy who’d shown it at the Osceola, and then Clay County, fairs in northwest Iowa. That was in about 1955. “Dennis Truckenmiller went with me and he bought a heifer too,” Gary said, adding that it was Dennis who took care of his cattle while he served in the Army. Dennis married while Gary was overseas, though, and the half-dozen cows with calves were taken to the Wolter farm and cared for by Gary’s brother until Gary returned. Gary and Jessa worked side by side on their purebred, registered Jersey dairy farm, from milking cows to raising calves and exhibiting them in the show ring. “Gary showed at the Clay County Fair in Spencer for 57 years,” Jessa said. “Plus a lot of other shows,” added


Coming in contact with overhead power lines can be deadly. Today’s farm machinery is bigger and taller, making the danger of working around electric lines greater than ever. Fall can be the most dangerous time of all.

Make sure all family members understand these rules: •Utility lines are uninsulated. Don’t let your body become a direct link to the ground or the result could be fatal. •Know the clearance height of all farm equipment. To be safe, keep all objects at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. •NEVER attempt to raise or move a power line. If you’re operating equipment that touches a line, stay where you are and have someone call the utility. •If you must leave the equipment, jump as far as you can so that no part of your body touches the equipment and the ground at the same time.

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TODAY’S FARM Gary. Among them, the World Dairy Expo, Minnesota State Fair, South Dakota State Fair and Sioux Falls Fair, and open class shows in Nobles and Jackson counties in Minnesota. Their herd of milk cows was kept to about 30 to 32 head, which proved to be plenty of work for the couple. They sold Jersey show stock as part of their business. The Wolters continued to milk until about 2005. “It got to a point where we had to redo the barn and we didn’t want to do that,” Jessa said. Aside from the dairy, the couple kept a few chickens off and on, raised some guineas and had a flock of sheep for a while. They also raised two children on the farm — son, Delane, who lives in Puyallup, Washington, and daughter Renae, who lives in what had been her grandparents’ home on the southeast corner of the farm. Delane and his wife have three daughters, one of whom just got married in June. “We flew out there for six days,” Jessa said. And on July 23, the entire family was together again — with the extended Wolter clan — for a family reunion on the farm in celebration of its 150th anniversary. “About 80 people from 10 different states were here,” she added. Then, in August, Delane returned home to join his parents and sister at the Iowa State Fair to accept their Heritage Farm certificate. That the farm has remained in the family for 150 consecutive years is something that any farmer would be proud of, especially when one thinks of everything


Delane (second from left), Renae, Jessa and Gary Wolter accept their newly designated Heritage Farm sign during the Iowa State Fair in August.. Special to The Globe

WOLTER: Page 11

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Challenges facing new beef processors and lockers BETH DORAN

ISU Extension

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Announcements of proposed beef processing plants and new local lockers seems to be the norm. Some of this was brought about by beef distribution problems due to COVID and concerns about the supply of beef. But lack of profitability in the cattle industry is also fueling the proposed construction of new plants and lockers. Beef producers hope that the construction of new plants not owned by the “Big Four” will increase both packing capacity and producer profitability. Only the future holds the answer to this, but in the meantime, there are some important challenges to consider in proposed business plans. Will the new plant or locker be able to source cattle? The nation’s cowherd had shrunk 2.2% at the beginning of 2022, and drought continues to increase the harvest of cows. All of this points to less calves in 2023. This means new processors and lockers will need to bid more to secure cattle, putting an extra strain on their cash flow. What about the economy of scale? A breed representative once pointed out that to be competitive, a plant must either produce beef that is cheaper or offer a better product. Because a lot of proposed plants are smaller than established plants, they won’t have the advantage of economy of scale.

This means they must be able to offer a product that is unique, such as more sustainable or guaranteed more tender. Local lockers can offer customer-based products such as “locally grown” and processed beef products not produced by larger packers such as beef sticks and dried beef. Who’s the buyer for the plant’s meat and what do they want? The latest trend in the beef industry has been the demand for high quality beef — especially the steaks. However, the rib, loin and sirloin comprise only 25% of the carcass. Even if the shoulder steaks are added in, the total percentage of higher quality steaks is only about 50% of the carcass. This leaves 50% of the carcass to be sold as lower-priced cuts.

And all cuts (steaks, roasts, ground beef) need to be case-ready for the grocer or food service. What about organ meats and the by-products? Larger packers obtain a portion of their revenue from the organ meats (livers, tongues, hearts) and by-products such as hides and blood. The “Big Four” packers have designed their plants to process these items on site and avoid the cost of shipping to another site for further processing. Smaller plants and lockers probably will not be as efficient in handling organs and by-products. Who’s the labor force? Currently businesses in the U.S are struggling to find labor, and new plants and lockers will have to offer attractive wages

to recruit new employees. Ideally, a packing plant or locker would like to hire employees who are already trained and skilled. If they aren’t, time is lost training new workers. Can the infrastructure accommodate a new plant or locker? It takes a volume of water to operate the facility, and drought has added to the cost of water in some locations. Relative to infrastructure, does the community have housing, schools, and businesses to support an increased population? Is everybody supportive? Ultimately, success in these kinds of ventures involves strong commitment from everyone — the cattle producers, local businesses and the community. Together, much can be accomplished!



Extension offers farmland rental rate information DAVE BAU U of M Extension

WORTHINGTON — Discussion about what a fair farmland rental rate is will be the focus of several fall meetings across the state. Landlords, farmers and agri-business professionals should make plans to attend one of the informative meetings being offered. These free meetings are organized by the University of Minnesota Extension.

Farmland rental rates are the largest input cost the farmer has. Determining a fair farm rent agreement is a challenge in today’s economy with the current high corn and soybeans prices. Negotiating a fair rental agreement that satisfies the landowner and the farmer is a challenge. I, along with Nathan Hulinsky, Extension educators in Ag Business Management, will provide several ways, including examples, fact sheets and worksheets, to determine a fair farmland rental rate for both parties. Topics covered at the meetings will include local historic and projected farmland rental rate trends, current farmland values and sales, and a worksheet that will help


determine a fair rental agreement. Input costs for 2022 will be presented along with current 2022 corn and soybean prices. Worksheets will examine 2023 costs, affordable rent rates for farmers, the rate of return to the landlord at current market values, and examine flexible rental agreements. The schedule for workshops can be found in October at extension.umn. edu. Attendees will receive several informative worksheets and factsheets that will help to determine what is a fair 2023 farmland rental rate. After the in-person farmland rental rate workshops, there will be several online sessions. Starting in January 2023 there will be several sessions offered virtually across the state.

The majority of the materials presented at the workshops can be found at business/farmland-rent-and-economics. Here you can find a statewide map with rental rates recently updated with 2021 and 2022 county rents, a spreadsheet by county of cropland rental rates and worksheets for landlords and farmers to fill out to help determine what a fair rental rate is for 2023 for farmland or pasture. Trends from FINBIN database show Minnesota rents increased from 2020 to 2021 by 4.6%. The USDA Minnesota statewide averages from 2021 to 2022 farmland rents increased by 4.5%. This could be one way to plot a trend for 2023 rents.

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Several farm families from Lyon, Osceola and Dickinson counties in northwest Iowa were honored for having farms in their family for 100 or 150 years during the Iowa State Fair last month in Des Moines. Century and Heritage farm family honorees include the following:

The Cory and Karess Knudtson family of Milford was recognized for their Heritage Farm in Dickinson County. The farm was settled in 1872. Special to The Globe

Gregory Sharbondy, Sibley, was honored with a certificate for having a Heritage Farm during the Iowa State Fair in August. The farm was settled in Osceola County in 1872.

The William S. Kruse family of George, Iowa, was honored for having a Heritage Farm by the Iowa State Fair in August. The farm was settled in 1872.

Special to The Globe

Special to The Globe

The Myron Knobloch family of Alvord was recognized for having a Century Farm at the Iowa State Fair in August. The farm was settled by their family in 1907. Special to The Globe

The Steven Kruse family of George, Iowa, was honored with a Heritage Farm certificate for having a farm in their family for 150 years. The award was presented during the Iowa State Fair in August.

The John Streit family was honored for having a Heritage Farm during the Iowa State Fair in August. The Streits own a farm near Ashton in Osceola County.

Special to The Globe

Special to The Globe

The Kurt Ahrenstorff family of Lake Park, Iowa, was honored at the Iowa State Fair in August for having a Century Farm. The farm was settled by the family in 1922. Special to The Globe



WOLTER From Page 7

their ancestors went through in settling the land, breaking the sod and making it through grasshopper plagues, storms, the Great Depression and the 1980s farm crisis. “We’re kind of proud that we still hung on,” said Jessa. “We kind of know the feeling (ancestors had), because we had it in the ’80s and know how tough that was.” In 1993, they had to plow their corn crop under because it never matured, and that was hard too. “Yeah, we had tough times, but our ancestors did too — and the blizzards,” she added. Today, the Wolters rent out their tillable land to a trio of young men — brothers Patrick, Brian and Brad Alexander — who farm together in the neighborhood. They share equipment with their dad, Paul. While the Alexanders will continue to farm the land, the 240-acre Wolter farm will stay in the family.

A special place The rural Allendorf farm has been making memories for descendants of Christian and Wilhelmina Krueger for 150 years and counting. For years, it has played host to family reunions. “Uncle Bob had a baseball field here in the yard,” said Gary. “In the old days, the kids from Allendorf would come out and play ball.” As a kid who loved to farm more than follow a baseball, Gary enjoyed that work that didn’t always seem like work. As a kid, he recalled the times the county would come through and mow the shoulder of the road. He would get his coaster wagon out, grab a pitch fork and walk to the end of their long driveway to pitch the grass into the wagon. Little load by little load, he’d haul the grass up to the yard and store it in the loft of the garage. When the space was full, his friend’s dad would come over with the baler. “We had a whole load of hay bales,” Gary recalled. Speaking of hay, the family farm experienced a tragedy in 1935 when the barn was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. They had just put up hay that day.

Gary Wolter drives one of the 730 John Deere diesel tractors in preparation for the tractor auction on the farm several years ago. Special to The Globe

“Grandpa seen it and hollered at the kids upstairs, but there was nothing they could save,” Gary said. “Grandpa had a brand new set of harnesses that got burned.” Also lost was one calf and the farm machinery, which was stored in lean-tos built onto either side of the barn. “After the fire, they pushed the machinery into the hole and buried it,” Gary added. A new barn was constructed that same year. The first tractor on the farm was an F-20 Farmall Gary’s dad bought new in 1939, and while Gary learned to drive the red tractor, it was the green variety he preferred. A collector of John Deere tractors and memorabilia since 1963, Gary and Jessa had more than 100 antique tractors at one time — of all different makes and models. Then there were the pedal John Deere tractors, 24 of which were sold at one of their three retirement auctions, and hundreds of small-scale toy tractors.

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“The toys I collected forever,” said Gary, noting that he even made a 1/16th scale tractor 70-plus years ago. The oldest full-size tractor in his collection was a 1923 Model D John Deere, which was sold at auction and fully restored by the buyer. The only brand new tractor Gary ever purchased was a John Deere 4440, which was Jessa’s tractor. “We always worked together on the farm,” said Jessa. “I always helped with field work and chores, milking and the calves.” At one time, both Gary and Jessa had John Deere 730 diesel tractors that they farmed with. Their collection — a John Deere tractor museum — was stored in a former cattle shed on the farm, and they opened it up to visitors for years. “We had all kinds of John Deere collectibles and memorabilia — toy tractors, hats, signs — all in the museum,” Jessa said. “We had a guest book that people would sign, and there were people from all over — foreign countries and all.”

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