Aho Century Farm has been in the family since 1917

SNELLMAN, Minn. - The Aho farm, located just outside Snellman, has been in the family since Jerry Aho's grandparents purchased it in 1917. They've been milking dairy cows and raising calves there almost as long.

aho farm.jpg
Cyndy, Rebecca, Andy and Jerry Aho (seen here with the family collie, Maddie) operate the family's dairy farm in rural Osage. The property was first purchased by Jerry's grandparents in 1917, and has been in continuous ownership by the same family since that time – which qualified it to be named as Becker County's latest Century Farm. (Vicki Gerdes / Forum News Service)

SNELLMAN, Minn. - The Aho farm, located just outside Snellman, has been in the family since Jerry Aho's grandparents purchased it in 1917. They've been milking dairy cows and raising calves there almost as long.

"Jerry's grandpa and grandma bought this place 100 years ago," says his wife, Cyndy Aho. "Someone's been milking cows here all those years."

At this year's Becker County Fair in Detroit Lakes, Minn., the Ahos were honored with Century Farm status - an achievement reserved for those families that have maintained continuous ownership of their farms for a century or more. Though Jerry still actively takes part in the family's farm operation, which encompasses "about 400 acres now," says Cyndy, the reins are in the process of being passed down to their son, Andy, and his family.

"Andy has always loved the cows, so he's right at home working with his dad," she adds. "Andy built a home nearby, where he lives with his wife Rebecca and their three kids. The oldest works in DL, while Rebecca and the other kids help with the milking and calf chores. Andy is our resident veterinarian, and also an A.I. tech."

As for Cyndy herself, she notes, she is "mostly retired... but I still like to know what's going on."


When Jerry's grandparents, Finnish immigrants Jacob and Miina Maisio, purchased the farm in 1917, it encompassed just 80 acres; today, it's closer to 400.

"We've (the Maisios' descendants) all added to it through the years," Cyndy said.

Jacob and Miina's daughter, Hilja, married Eino Aho on the family farm on Aug. 21, 1938. Also, a child born of Finnish immigrants, he and his family came to Wolf Lake Township in 1902.

"Eino walked the 10 miles between their farms to court Hilja," said Cyndy. "In 1942, they bought the land (from Hilja's parents). They started farming with two-cylinder tractors; eventually, they got milking machines and bought a bulk tank (for milk).

Hilja and Jerry took care of the farm during the week, while Eino did carpentry and helped on the farm during weekends. Hilja loved to work outside, and always had a big vegetable garden. She planted many shrubs and flowers, creating a beautiful yard. She also wove rugs, quilted and did a lot of needlework. All the while, she kept her home neat as a pin."

Jerry, who was born in 1944, took over the farm operation in 1983. He and Cyndy had married almost 20 years earlier, while he was serving in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1965 to 1971. During this time, their children were born. Son Andy was born in 1968, Jeremy in 1972 and Adam in 1977. Like Jerry's parents, they always had a big garden.

"Jeremy and Andy spent many summers on the farm with their grandparents before moving here," Cyndy said. Jeremy retired from farming this past spring; he and his wife Amanda live in rural Detroit Lakes (between Height of Land Lake and Snellman) with their three kids. They both work in Detroit Lakes.

Youngest son Adam, meanwhile, lives in Duluth, Minn., and works for Cirrus Design. He and his wife Jolene have three children; Jolene is a fourth-grade teacher.


"They visit the farm often, and all of them are helpful in doing odd jobs for us," said Cyndy.

When Jerry and Cyndy first moved back to Becker County in 1983, it was during a snowstorm. A year later, they instituted improvements that led to the farm becoming a Grade A dairy operation - which it still is to this day.

"We're hanging in there," said Cyndy, though fluctuating milk prices have made it a bit of a struggle at times. "When I think back, sometimes I wish our kids were little again. We enjoyed being together, working on the farm. But we also enjoy having adult children - and the daughters-in-law and grandkids too!"

What To Read Next
This week on AgweekTV, we hear about North Dakota corporate farming legislation and about WOTUS challenges. Our livestock tour visits a seedstock operation and a rabbit farm. And we hear about new uses for drones.
Kevin and Lynette Thompson brought TNT Simmental Ranch to life in 1985. Now, their daughter, Shanon Erbele, and her husband, Gabriel, are taking over the reins, and their sale is for Feb. 10.
Gevo will be making sustainable aviation fuel in Lake Preston, South Dakota. Summit Carbon Solutions plans to capture carbon emissions from the facility.
Even if it's not a lucrative venture, the hobby of raising rabbits continues at this farm near Sebeka, Minnesota.