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'Pride in America' inspires trio of flags at Raymond, Minn., farm

The Ahrenholz farmstead features a United States flag, a Minnesota flag and a Christian flag. “Pride in America, I guess,” James Ahrenholz said, quietly, when asked about the display. “I believe in our freedom.”

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James Ahrenholz said the trio of flags on his Raymond, Minn., farmstead is topped by the U.S. flag, and flanked by the Minnesota state flag and a flag, which represents all Christian faiths. Photo taken March 4, 2021, Raymond, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek
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Editor’s note: Every year for Independence Day, Agweek reporter Mikkel Pates presents an annual feature called Flags on Farms a collection of vignettes.

“There’s just something about the two that seem to go together nicely,” Pates said. “To survive and thrive, farmers and ranchers must possess a kind of independence and toughness that is emblematic of an American spirit. And the red, white and blue just look great against a farm background, any time of the year.”

RAYMOND, Minn. — The Ahrenholz farmstead is a picture of American agricultural success — a generous ranch-style home, fronted by landscaping that features a trio of flags.

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The James and Susan Ahrenholz farmstead landscaping includes a sharp trio of flags -- the U.S. flag, the flag of Minnesota, and a Christian flag, visible from Photo taken March 4, 2021, Raymond, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

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Front and center is the flag of the United States of America. It’s flanked proudly by the royal blue flag of the state of Minnesota, with the seal in the center. And there on the left is the Christian flag — a white field, with a red Latin cross inside a blue canton.

James Ahrenholz, 73, and his wife, Susan, are thankful for an agricultural career and family heritage that has stayed close to home.

“I have never lived out of this section — Section 20 of Holland Township,” James said.

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Susan and James Ahrenholz are thankful for U.S. freedoms and a career in farming at Raymond, Minn. James has lived on either side of Holland Township, Kandiyohi County, Minn., his whole life. Photo taken March 4, 2021, Raymond, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

His father, Dick, started farming on the south side of the section and stayed home from school to help his dad, making it through eighth grade. Dick eventually had land on both sides of it, including this farm where they moved in 1963.

James graduated from high school in 1965 and went right into farming. He and Susan, who was from Spicer, Minn., married in 1971 and moved to the farm on the south side of the section. They moved to the north side in 1979 when Dick retired.

They built the new home in 2012. James and Susan had seen various flag displays and decided to add that to their landscape.

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“Pride in America, I guess,” he said, quietly, when asked about the display. “I believe in our freedom.”

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The flags of the United States of America and the state of Minnesota stand tall at the James and Susan Ahrenholz farmstead at Raymond, Minn., near the town of the Prinsburg, Minn. Photo taken March 4, 2021, Raymond, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

James was in the 825th Army Reserve Company of out of Willmar, Minn., for six years, active for five months, taking basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. He did on-the-job training in Fort Bliss, Texas.

Today, James still helps some on the farm, which is just west of Prinsburg. Sons Tim and Terry raise corn, beans, sugarbeets and edible (black) beans. Tim also custom-feeds isowean piglets to market weight hogs in a 2,400-head barn for a neighbor.

The Ahrenholz family produces beets for Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative at Renville. The guys in the green beet trucks can see the flags along Minnesota Highway 7. The beet crop this year looks good but needs rain. They were thankful for a good year in 2020, after excessively wet years in 2018 and 2019.

Ahrenholz said he gets positive comments and some questions about the Christian flag. Some wonder if it represents all Christians.

“Yes, it does,” he said.

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James Ahrenholz said the trio of flags on his Raymond, Minn., farmstead is topped by the U.S. flag, and flanked by the Minnesota state flag and a flag, which represents all Christian faiths. Photo taken March 4, 2021, Raymond, Minn. Mikkel Pates / Agweek

The flag trio flies 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They take a bit of care to maintain.

“With the wind we’ve got, they tear. She sews them up or we get a new one. We have to do that,” James said.

But if it’s real work, it’s not on Sundays. The family is in the Christian Reformed Church, which grew from Dutch and German immigrant families. They adhere to certain rules.

“We do not work on Sunday,” Ahrenholz said, adding, “We’ve made a good living. If you work efficiently for six days, you don’t have to work seven.”

Related Topics: AGRICULTUREMINNESOTA
Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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