Original buildings still stand on Windom, Minn., Century Farm
WINDOM -- One hundred and forty years ago, 160 acres of land was deeded by the state of Minnesota to the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad Company. The land was then homesteaded when sold to a local homesteader in 1888. The land was finally bought...
WINDOM - One hundred and forty years ago, 160 acres of land was deeded by the state of Minnesota to the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad Company. The land was then homesteaded when sold to a local homesteader in 1888. The land was finally bought by a young and determined couple, George and Rosy Diemer, in 1914, and it has since been the Ray Diemer Family Farm.
The farm has stayed in the family for four generations. It’s now owned by George and Rosy’s great grandson, Jon Diemer, and his wife, Julie. “It’s my great grandpa and grandma who started it all with the help of my grandfather,” said Jon.
George and Rosy Diemer started a busy and successful family farm. The three barns and one chicken pen standing on the farm today were built by George and his son, Ray. They were filled with many animals, including sheep, horses, cows and plenty of chickens.
“He had all kinds of animals, and the farm was just thriving,” said Jon.
The flourishing farm lasted many decades, and Jon’s father and grandfather couldn’t have asked for it any other way. For Jon’s dad, Ray, growing up on the Diemer farm and going to school in Heron Lake was “the best time to be a kid ever,” and Jon couldn’t agree more.
BB guns, hunting and broken bones
Jon remembers his weekend stays and long summer visits to the Diemer farm when he was a young child.
“I hung out here with my grandparents all the time, and sometimes I would bring my friends,” said Jon. “I technically lived here.”
Jon’s weekend visits would include exploring the land, helping his grandparents on the busy farm and - best of all - “terrorizing everything with my BB gun.”
For Jon’s father, fingers getting caught in the mower and broken bones were more common than one would expect. Jon recalls many family stories that included one type of injury or another.
One story he won’t forget involves the time his aunt fell off the hay loft as a young girl. Luckily, the neighbor was quick enough to catch her in time.
Today, the treasured memories being made by Jon’s two sons, Tanner and Sam, include four-wheeling, gardening, logging and hunting.
“The house is our hunting shack, and we come out every duck opener,” said Jon. “The farm is our hangout spot now.”
Same farm, different age
If you walk around the Diemer farm today, you will see everything as it was 100 years ago. The farm serves as an aging time portal. None of the original buildings have been knocked down or remodeled.
“The hard part right now is that it’s getting run down,” said Jon. “When the buildings don’t get used, they begin to fall apart.”
However, Jon recognizes that the Diemer Farm possesses something that many farms around the area do not - the original 100-year- old buildings.
“Every year when farms get bought out, the farm sites get tore down and made part of the fields,” said Jon.
As more farms get bought out and less people live in the country, the Diemer farm will become a rarity.
Another change that Jon has noticed over the past years pertains to farming practices.
Unlike his grandparents’ farm with smaller grains like oats and alfalfa and a few dairy cows and pigs, farms of today are obsessed with what Jon calls the “monoculture.”
“Nowadays, instead of a few patches of corn and beans, it’s pretty much all corn or all beans,” said Jon. “There aren’t as many animals, either. If someone has animals, it’s because they own a dairy or hog farm.”
Many farmers may be deciding to tear down their old buildings and use the land for farming, but Jon has a different plan in mind.
“One thing that is important for being a family farm is keeping the place up,” said Jon. “Our plans this summer are to redo the roofing and paint all of the buildings again.”
Will the farm be passed down a fifth generation? Jon is dedicated to keeping the farm in the family as long as possible or “until I die.” Whether his sons decide to buy it from him in the future is up to them.
“It just depends on where we are with our lives and what we decide to do,” said Tanner.
As for now, the farm will continue to be a family treasure and a community time capsule.
“It’s something to have for the family,” said Jon. “We love it.”