The Alex Swanson Farm is NW of Amery WI

posted Dec 28, 2020

more at the end by Gary, Jan 24 2021

This photo story about the farm has 2 chronological sections and the first is mostly black and white by Grace and the second is in color by her nephew Brad.

Farm photos and comments From Grace

This is how it looked when we moved to the farm in 1930

Alex & Ida

The barn in 1951 before a milkhouse was attached.

December 8 1952

Alex at work on the house before the front porch was enclosed

The farmhouse had no indoor plumbing until I was in junior high circa 1957. We had a sink in one corner of the kitchen with a pump handle for cold water. A boiler on the cookstove heated by wood and then oil heated our water. A stove/heater in the living room warmed the house. Registers in the upstairs floors were opened to allow heat into our bedrooms of which there were 4.

The following 4 snow pictures were from 1967

The barn with the old silo, brooder coop, and chicken house were good buildings for a long time.

The barn with a milkhouse. In junior high, I (Grace) carried milk in pails from the milking machines in the barn into the milkhouse and poured it into the steel milk cans. Those were picked up by Clear Lake Creamery milk truck drivers. Some of the milk we kept of course and skimmed off the top for cream. We were delivered butter, ice cream and sometimes cheese.

The machine shed was built in 1947, had space for some of the smaller farm equipment and on the south end had grain bins storage.

3 Summer pictures printed Jun 1971.

Alex replaced the horses in 1947 with the Oliver Model 60. Tractors had been rationed during WWII and he had his name on lists at several dealers and took the first available brand. The Oliver served about 20 years until Alex retired.

A letter from Brad Swanson at the farm to Alex and Ida in Mesa Arizona

Dear Gramma and Gramps:

Sunday, December 13, 1981

This letter is a little Christmas present from me and is kind of a giant make-up letter for all the times that I should have written to you but haven't.

First of all, it is a sad and dreary day out today. The temperature is about 30-35°and has been about that warm all week except for a few days when it got down to about 10° at night.

Second, I got this picture-letter idea from all the work and changes that have been going on around here since last spring or the last time that you were up here to the farm. Let me tell you, you sure have missed a lot of changes, but hopefully this picture-letter will help you catch up on how the place looks.

This is a picture of the barn and silo as it looked about November 14th. The first lasting snowfall that we got was on November 19th, so now everything looks a little frosty and cold. Notice the prominent red door with the round window on the milkhouse, and also the red steel siding above the milk house. The steel was put on to make the barn look better and to also keep the rain and water out of the milkhouse. Eventually, the whole barn will be sided with the red steel. The silo is 12' x 60' and you can really tell how tall and skinny it is compared to the barn in this picture. See the new barn cleaner in the far right.

This is the north side of the barn looking west. Notice how we had the ex-hill excavated so we have a walk-in silo room and a level cow yard with two access gates.

This is the east side of the barn, showing the new barn cleaner which Porter's put in about the middle of October. Pitching by hand before, it took about an hour to clean the barn; now it takes about 10 minutes. When the new red steel gets put on the barn, it will match the new bottom half of the east end of the barn

 

This is a close-up of the back of the barn, showing the way the land is excavated to allow for a walk-in silo room. Right now, the bottom half of the silo room is completely finished and there are 12" cement blocks lining the drive-way to the door to keep the bank from wearing down and to make it look nicer. At top left you can see that the drive- way door was taken off. Now it is closed up and a new door is where the old small door used to be. The bottom of the silo is even with the bottom of the barn floor, so actually, the silo stands about 60' from where the tractor is sitting. (65' from top to bottom, including cap).

This is the McKee Corn Hog grinder/blower that we bought for filling our silo. The auger is run off of the tractor's hydraulic system and you can see the hoses in the middle of the picture if you look closely. The tractor engine is run at 2500 rpm and it really makes feed out of those ears in a hurry! As you can tell, the Corn Hog isn't very big, as it is mounted on the three-point hitch. It is smaller than a conventional silo blower, but needs more power to run it.

The inside of the silo room as it looks from the barn door. The unloader control-box has an ammeter built into it so you can monitor the load on the unloader motor to get longer life out of it. The forage-flo chute wasn't in place when I took this picture. All it is, is a 12" PVC pipe with removable doors in it so the unloader chute blows the corn down the pipe and into the feed cart without making a big mess in the chute and all Over the feed room floor. To feed the cows, all I have to do is push the feed cart under the pipe, turn the unloader on, let down the unloader, and wait for the cart to fill up, shut the unloader off, crank the unloader up a few cranks and then go feed the cows.

This is our new tractor - a John Deere 2840. It's a 1977 model and has around 80 hp. The 148 loader is the same one that we had on our 2510. We got the loader a year ago new, but even at a year old, it still looks like it's brand new. The cab is kind of hot in the summer, because it doesn't have air conditioning, but it's really nice now in the winter because it's got a heater in it. It's also nice for driving in the rain because it keeps you so nice and dry and warm.

The next bunch of pictures were also taken off the top of the silo.

These two pictures go together somewhat, as they look to the east. You can see Dale's, Howard's, Delbert's, and Anna's old place in the far distance. Notice the strip of corn that was already picked in our field, All of our corn was in the silo and was already being fed by the time the first snowfall came. As of right now, some people around here are still trying desperately to get their corn picked. Jim Swanson just finished picking his corn last Saturday. The cornfield in this picture was the only one we had left to pick and put in the silo. We were done filling silo on the 16th of November, I think - unless we were done on the 9th and I took these pictures on the 7th. I dunno about me.

This is looking straight west over our 30-acre field, already picked. Gayle's is to the upper left.

Looking to the northwest, you can see Lyle's yellow house, Dwyer's barn to the right of it and to the far right, you can see Pearl's house. Above Dwyer's is Dale Butler's farm and above Lyle's is Koethe and Mack's houses. If you look very carefully, you can see Lennart's house and part of the barn to the right of Lyle's.

However my car got into the sequence of top-of-the-silo pictures, I don't know, but this is an on-the ground shot of my car, Otnip (which is Pinto spelled backwards) the Super Pea. I call him the Super Pea because he looks like a giant green pea. Otnip is a 1974 Ford Pinto wagon. Right now, he is in the hospital getting a new transmission put in him, with about 80,500 miles on his odometer.

Another top- of-the-silo shot looking down at the back yard with the roof in the foreground being the barn roof. This is about all that I could stretch myself around the silo without falling off it.

Looking southwest, you can see the lake at the far left and again, see Gayle's in the far right.

I hope that you've enjoyed this picture-letter as much as I did taking the pictures and typing this letter.

I've got only 3 weeks left of school left until the next semester starts on January 18.

The second semester ends at the end of May and an .optional course starts-for 4 weeks after that, so I think that I'll take all of the schooling that I can. The optional course will train me in more sophisticated machinery, and in the long run, will probably get me a better job and a few more dollars/hour than if I didn't take the extra training.

About the only thing that us folks do around here is sit around and watch each other get older as time goes by. We'll all be down at Elsie's for Christmas and will probably call you if you aren't over in Texas at Adolph's. (ha,ha)

Merry Christmas from me

And all of the cows,

BRAD

Time has marched on

Small diversified dairy or live stock farms are now very rare. The home place was originally only 80 acres including 28 acres for the buildings, trees and the small river called Friday creek that runs through it. Back in the day, It was necessary to rent additional nearby land for operational income and feed for livestock. The typical farm had a barn sized for up to 24 milking cows, some calves and maybe 4 horses. Some farms had another smaller barn for some sheep and or hogs and a chicken house. So the farmer had morning and evening chores every day and income throughout the year from livestock and any crops in excess of the need for feed. Todays typical farm is much larger, more specialized and less diversified as time marchs on.

The remaining tillable land on the Swanson farm is rented out now to a very much larger operation.

The live stock is long gone and the barn (now more than 100 years old) is being torn down because the cost of long needed maintenance is more than it is worth.

Begining the process as of Aug 22 2020 by Brad.

Next day on Aug 23 2020 shows the beam structure and sad state of the roof and the verticle boards.

Plans are to have heavy equipment come in to complete the tear down in 2021.

Marlin, brother of Grace, is in his retirement years and lives in the remodeled farm house.on the place. He has many skills with a wood working shop in the 1947 building and a metal working shop in a newer machinery building. He has been a cabinet maker, a farmer on the place, a house builder and keeps very busy with antique collections, toy shows and converting old riding lawn mowers into.replica farm tractors.