In the more than eight years I lived and worked in Redwood County, one of my favorite pastimes was traveling the countryside and taking photos of abandoned farmhouses. There were a lot of them up there … a lot more than there are here in Nobles County.
Redwood County is one of the top-ranked counties in the state when it comes to corn and soybean production. Farmers there also grow sweet corn, green peas and some sugar beets, though counties farther north have considerably more beet fields.
Having grown up in the land of corn and soybeans here in Nobles County, I had a bit to learn when I became the farm reporter for the Redwood Gazette. I’ll never forget the time I called up the agriculture Extension agent in the middle of July to write a crop update story and I asked him how the sugar beet harvest was going.
There was silence on the other end of the line … and then a laugh.
Sugar beets are late-season crops … harvested about the same time or later as corn. How was I to know?
I could have tried to save myself a little embarrassment by saying, "Uh, I mean how is the green pea harvest going?," but I wasn’t quick-thinking enough.
When you get older, you realize there really is no such thing as a stupid question and it doesn’t pay to get embarrassed. I’m a reporter, for goodness sakes, it’s my job to ask questions … stupid or not!
Anyway, about these abandoned farmhouses … I really don’t know a lot about them. The one shown at the top belongs to a dairy farming family west of Wabasso. I was granted permission to go on the yard and take pictures, and it was the only abandoned farmhouse that I’ve ever visited by myself.
Usually I’d have a co-worker ride along, or the nieces and nephews when they would come and spend a weekend with Aunt Juwee. There’s just something a little creepy about a house that has been left to weather and rot.
The abandoned farmhouse shown to the left was hidden behind trees and thick brush along the Minnesota River Scenic Byway. The road is gravel, and I generally traveled the route that traversed from north of Seaforth to north of Morton. Along the route there are ruins of the Farther & Gay Castle, a monument honoring those killed in the Sioux Uprising and several tree carvings, including those of a prairie family, an ear of corn and a bald eagle.
I know that the abandoned farmhouse below is no longer standing today … I noticed it the last time I took a detour from the drive to Grandma’s house to travel through my old stomping grounds of Wabasso. There is probably a corn or a soybean field in its place today; and the non-local passers by will never know a once stately farmhouse stood up there on the hill.
The photo at the bottom was taken of an abandoned farmhouse southwest of Wabasso. It actually is the home where one of my aunts grew up. Her parents are both gone, and the land has since been sold to a neighboring farmer.
I don’t know if the house remains standing or not. It had been vacant for several years.
I think part of my fascination with abandoned farmhouses stems from my own years growing up in a large, two-story farmhouse in Bigelow Township. The house was torn down in 1980, shortly after we moved into our new home, built several feet in front of where the old one had stood.
I was nine years old when we moved into our new home. It was the first time I had a bedroom of my very own. In the old house the upstairs had three bedrooms, but only two of them were used. When we were young, all four of us shared the biggest of the rooms during the winter … that way we only needed to use one heater. There was enough room for three twin beds and a double and we still weren’t crowded!
It got so cold during the winter months that Mom had a hard time getting us out of bed to get ready for school. We didn’t want to climb out from under the layers of quilts, and when we finally did, it was to race across the cold floor, down the even colder steps and sit in front of the heater in the living room until she got after us again!
That old house had its faults, but it had its charm too. A lot of memories were made there.
If these old, abandoned farmhouse walls could talk, I wonder what they would have to say.