Myn brockberg

Brockberg farm recognized as a century farm

By: Sirrina Martinez
Multimedia reporter

The farm of Bill and Jody Brockberg is one of 97 farms across the state that has been recognized as a Century Farm by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau in 2024. At a total of 160 acres, the operation is located around two miles east of Trosky, although it has a Jasper address.
In 1924, Bill's grandfather, Frank Brockberg, and his wife Louise, bought the farm. According to Brockberg's application for Century Farm recognition, the young newlywed couple produced products and crops that were typical of the day including cream, beef, pigs, chickens, eggs and ducks. Frank was a German born immigrant, and his father-in-law co-signed for a loan for the land, which at the time went for $100 an acre. During the Great Depression era, the farm should have been lost by the family, Brockberg said. However, the bank had so many farms at the time that they didn't want it. Once the economy began to turn around, Frank and Louise were able to make all of their back payments and the family moved forward. The couple lived in the typical two-story farmhouse and raised their five children for many years until Frank passed away in 1951. Ownership of the farm was transferred to Louise who lived there until she sold it to her son Melvin Brockberg and his wife Dorothy in 1975. The farm made it through the crisis of the 80's, Brockberg said, and continued to remain in the family.
Melvin and Dorothy owned the farm from 1975-2002, and raised their two children there, Bill and his sister Kathy. In 2002, Bill bought the farm from his parents, and he had his wife Jody have worked hard to keep it going ever since. The couple have one son, Corey, who is married to Laura, and a grandson named Hatcher who live in Boulder, Colo.
Unfortunately, the original house was torn down after the foundation caved in, but Brockberg was able to salvage the hardwood floors that Jody loved, and reuse them in the new home that was built in 2011.
"Jody had beautiful hardwood floors (in the original house)," he said. "I took every board out of thehardwood floor and I refinished it and put it in the new house. It was a labor of love."
Up until recently, Brockberg said, the family continued to raise dairy cows, "until two years ago there were cows milked continuously," he said. "Then I sold the dairy. Now we raise beef cattle, stock cows, goats and crops."
Some of the crops they raise include soybeans, oats, alfalfa and rye crops. The farm is also a Certified Clean Water Farm. The Brockberg farm has produced more than just your typical agricultural products. In October of 1990, Brockberg and his father had an unusual dairy cow that had a pattern on her left side that was shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. The Holstein was not a great milk producer, Brockberg said, and the family had considered selling her. Her fate was changed when Jody reached out to the Walt Disney Corporation and suggested that they consider bringing her into their fold. Disney purchased the cow from the family and she was renamed Minnie Moo. For the remainder of her life, Minnie Moo lived at Grandma Duck's Petting Farm and at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground's Tri-Circle Ranch in Florida.
"Jody was 100% responsible for making all the connections and transactions," he said. "That's when dad and I were in partnership. She (Minnie Moo) wasn't the best dairy cow and we were going to sell it. Jody took it and ran with it."
Brockberg said that he and Jody are honored to have the rare opportunity to buy and keep the farm in the family and to have it recognized as a Century Farm.
"Not very often does that happen now days," he said. "I'm very honored."
Myn jccffa

FFA members busy preparing for state convention

By Taryn Lessman

As the Minnesota State FFA Convention approaches, members of the Jackson County Central FFA Chapter are competing in the last few regional contests, honing their knowledge and preparing for a busy three days at the University of Minnesota April 21-23.
Micah Worthington, a junior at JCC, is a part of the chapter's state qualifying ag mechanics team. Since the team's region contest in March, Worthington and the other members of the team have been practicing weekly to get ready. They also have had help from community members in the ag mechanics field who have come to talk with the team and help build their knowledge.
JCC senior Noah Thompson and the other members of the chapter's general livestock judging team have been virtually judging livestock in order to prepare for their competition at state.
"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of friends and people that I know up at state convention, and just getting to talk to them again," Thompson said.
Members of the chapter's horse evaluation team are also using virtual tools to practice for their contest, said Kayleigh Nosbusch, a junior at JCC who is a part of that team. The team also got in some extra real-life practice at the Little International contest on the campus of South Dakota State University on April 5.
"I'm excited to compete at the state fairgrounds," Nosbusch said.
Rylee Benda, a JCC sophomore, is competing on the chapter's farm business management team. This team is practicing weekly by taking practice tests and answering questions that may be found on the state exam. Benda said she is looking forward to "talking and hanging out with friends," as well as meeting new people and experiencing the state convention.
JCC senior Brixton Hillmer is a part of the chapter's parliamentary procedure team. The contest consists of a parliamentary set, a test and a set of verbal questions, so the team is preparing by studying parliamentary law and practicing a set weekly to learn how to put parliamentary law into practice, he said.
"I am looking forward to meeting new people," Hillmer said of the state convention, "and seeing all the booths and getting free stuff in the arena."
Myn wiemefamily

Meet your Murray County neighbors: The Wieme family

By Sirrina Martinez

On a 10 acre farm east of Ruthton on the Murray County line, the family of Matt and Christie Wieme enjoy the peace and privacy of being surrounded by pasture and DNR land and spending time making things with their own hands.
Christie and Matt met in high school in 1998 and married in October of 2005. In total, they have been together for 26 years. When they decided to move to the farm from Balaton in 2007, a small two bedroom house sat on the property. As their family began to grow, in 2016 Matt and Christie decided to tear down the old house, put in a bigger basement and move a larger home onto the property. Over the years they've renovated the house, re-finishing the basement and turning two rooms into a large office space where Christie is able to store everything she needs to home school their four boys: Miles, 13, Ethan, 11, Isaac, 8, and Liam 4.
The family moved to the country, Matt said, to have space for their boys to live and grow.
"We wanted to get out into the country where I originally grew up," Matt said. "To start raising animals and allow the boys to run free."
The Wiemes raise a mixture of broiler chickens that they butcher and freeze in late spring, and laying hens that provide them with fresh eggs for the majority of the year. They also keep a garden every year that provides them with a variety of fresh vegetables that they can eat in season or that Christie cans for the winter. Every year they bale hay to feed their animals and sell the extra bales. Every fall, Matt said, the boys sell pumpkins that they grow at Matt's parents' farm down the road. The family enjoys the opportunity to be as self reliant as they can, Matt said.
"With what we can manage we try to be as self sufficient as possible," he said, "where we can raise our own food. We can't do that with everything but we do as much as we can."
When they moved to the farm the family started their own little zoo, raising Silky chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, cats, dogs, Norwegian dwarf goats and a Shetland pony named Charlie.
"Half the point of living out in the country is so that you can have all these kinds of animals," Matt said. "It's good for the boys. It teaches them responsibility."
As a stay at home mom, Christie has her hands full running the house, cooking healthy natural ingredient based meals for a small army, canning applesauce, salsa and spaghetti sauce every fall, home schooling the four boys and getting them to and from their numerous sports and extra curricular activities and more. The family is also very active in Tyler Alliance Church.
Moving to the country has provided respite and a space for the boys to learn and grow, Christie said, and teaching them how to do things for themselves is important to her.
"I do these things because it is a lost way," she said. "There's a reason that our grandparents did it and it's important for the boys to learn those skills so they're not lost. I think it's a better way of living health wise, and saving money. If you can do it, they are good skills and trades for families and kids to learn that are valuable and more important than other things."
Living on the farm has been an opportunity that she feels blessed by, Christie said.
"I appreciate that the boys can run free, explore and be closer to nature," she said. "We have so much beauty around us with the DNR land and with the animals. I think the boys have more chores than they would have if we lived in town and I think that is important for them to be able to learn from their environment. I love where we live. We have beautiful views and so much to appreciate. Although I love summer time out here because of the heat, the spring is my favorite because when the Canadian geese are coming back and the frogs are singing it is so magical and peaceful. We are thankful and blessed to be here."
When Matt isn't working as a field operator with Lincoln Pipestone Rural Water, he enjoys spending time with Christie, or taking his boys hunting. When he has free time, he can be found out in one of the machine sheds working on various woodworking projects. Matt started dabbling in woodworking in 2010, and officially started his business, Woodworks by Wieme, three years ago.
Over the years he has expanded his business and now makes a variety of items built to order including custom furniture, wall decor, yard games, various sized cornhole boards, sports memorabilia and more. His best selling items, Matt said, are his custom American flags, which he makes for veterans, firefighters, law enforcement officers and other first responders, as well as for those who would like an American flag that represents their passion like hunting, farming or just their family name. His other best seller, he said, is cornhole boards. Improving his skills over the years has been a pleasure, Matt said.
"It's been interesting learning new woodworking techniques and about running a business," he said. "You don't just start a business and everything goes right. You learn a lot from other people who own their own businesses and you learn a lot from people you meet at vendor shows who has been doing it a lot longer than I have. So far it has been enjoyable and fulfilling. It has allowed me to do a lot of things I would never have ventured to try. When people call me and ask me to create custom things I enjoy trying to bring their vision to life."
He started out with a the basics like a hammer and tape measure, a drill and a table saw, Matt said. Three years later, he has expanded his shop to include a vinyl cutter and a laser engraver. Now, he is considering purchasing a CNC machine.
"I just like creating stuff out of wood," he said. "I enjoy turning a slab of wood into something I can use and something that people will appreciate. I was always kind of into woodworking, my grandpa Andrew Wieme was into it way back in the day. He had a wood shop in his basement where he used to make piggy banks, wooden names and numbers, porch swings and other items. He had band saws and all kinds of things but he was more into carving. I have some fond memories of watching him work and spending time with him."
Being able to have space to pursue his passion of woodworking is a blessing, Matt said.
"I just always feel so fortunate that this has kept going," he said. "It was something that I never thought would turn into anything."
Myn garden club

Local garden club looking to grow - in more ways than on

By Justin R. Lessman

Much as area farmers have planting on their mind this time of year, so too do members of the Jackson Garden Club, though on a slightly smaller scale.
Founded so long ago nobody can quite remember when, the Jackson Garden Club has a long history of service to the community of Jackson. At present, club members tend gardens around a historical monument in Jackson and at Fort Belmont, the community’s interstate-side tourist attraction. The club for years has hosted a spring plant sale. And, as a member of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society, the club takes its turn hosting the spring convention.
-The club meets the second Tuesday of every month from May through October and is currently on the lookout for new members.
"Our membership is small, but mighty," said club member Sue Schrader. "But we’d like to add some new faces to the mix."
Myn maulsby

Klassen family Cottonwood County Farm Family of the Year

Sirrina Martinez
Multimedia reporter
smartinez@pipestonestar.com

In August of 2023, the family of Arlen and Cindy Klassen were named the Farm Family of the Year for Cottonwood County. The Klassen family farm was established in 1941 when Arlen’s parents, Frank and Adelaine Klassen, purchased the site nine miles east of Windom on July 5 of that year. Along with his siblings Joyce, Loren and Carol, Arlen grew up helping his father with all aspects of the operation including raising crops and livestock.
Reflecting on his childhood at the family farm, Arlen remembers one Christmas when he was surprised by a gift that he had always wanted.
“One year I got a pony for Christmas it was pretty special,” he said. “I didn’t have hardly anything under the tree and my brother and my sisters all had stuff so I was feeling pretty sorry for myself until my dad took me outside and showed me the pony in the barn.”
After 40 years, Frank and Adeline moved to town. Arlen and his wife Cindy whom he met when he was sixteen and married in 1976, took over the farm on May 5, 1981. Over the years the couple kept the family farm going while raising their four children: Trista (Klassen) Schuette, Tyler Klassen, Jason Klassen and Alyssa (Klassen) DeFrance. Now, Arlen is reflecting of some of his favorite memories of his children growing up.
“Some of the kids were in 4H and FFA,” he said. “They showed cattle and bottle fed the calves that were either orphaned or the cow couldn’t take care of them. Those were kind of the highlights of the kids growing up. Seeing them having an interest in what we do.”
Although the 80’s and 90’s presented some challenging years for the family operation, the Klassen’s pulled through with the help of other family members, friends, neighbors and landlords of some of the land they worked, Arlen said.
“I was able to work with two different guys and helped them farm and used their machinery to also farm my land,” he said. “It was tough for those years but some of the landlords have been really good to me and they had always been more than fair.”
There have been some changes on the farm site since the next generation took over in ‘81, Arlen said. The family has made upgrades to fencing, fixed up the house, planted trees and did some tiling. Today, Arlen, his older brother Loren, and Arlen’s son Tyler work together to run the family farm by helping one another and sharing equipment. Together they raise alfalfa, soybeans and corn and work over 2,000 acres together. Recently, Arlen sold his half of a cow-calf herd that he and Tyler shared to him. Tyler has been helping on the family farm since a young age, Arlen said.
“He’s been helping me since he was pretty young,” he said. “He’s been driving tractor since he was 10. Farming is what he has always wanted to do and we are trying to make that work.”
Beyond managing the family operation, Arlen has served in various capacities in his community including on his church board, the Farm Bureau board, his local co-op board and the cattleman’s board. Cindy has enjoyed raising their children, delivering meals, working her garden, helping to bring her family to and from working the fields and loving her grandchildren: Collin, Josie, Lincoln, Sully and Hayden.
The future of the Klassen family farm, Arlen said, will eventually be in the hands of his son Tyler and Tyler’s wife and son, as they are working to buy the operation and continue the family legacy. Arlen and Cindy are currently in the process of transitioning to a new farm site closer to where she grew up where they plan to build a new home. Eventually he will retire from farming, Arlen said, and knowing that the place he was born and raised on and worked hard to keep will soon be passed on to his son presents mixed buy happy feelings.
“It’s going to be kind of sad to leave but I am very happy that he wants to take over and be here too,” he said. “I’m still not quite done farming but we are in the transition stage to slow down and get out.”
Receiving recognition as the Cottonwood County Farm Family of the Year has been an honor, Arlen said.
“We are very honored to be able to have this award,” he said. “I feel like I don’t deserve it so it’s mixed feelings but I am very honored and yet humbled.”
Myn maulsby

Vision for sustainability earns Maulsby top honor

Darcy Maulsby is inspiring and connecting generations and communities through her decades of conservation stewardship.
For her efforts, Maulsby was named 2023 Iowa Conservation Woman of the Year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Maulsby’s passion for conservation led her to become a commissioner with the Calhoun County Soil and Water Conservation District, where she extends her commitment and passion to her community. Maulsby also helps organize events like the Calhoun County Extension and Outreach’s windbreak meeting, attracting participants from across Iowa, allowing her to network and engage in discussions about conservation.
Jeremy Viles, district conservationist with NRCS in Calhoun County, approached Maulsby about becoming a commissioner.
“We probably met about 15 years ago,” Viles said. “I would listen to her speak at various events and read her articles. She is extremely active in promoting conservation in our communities. I knew she would be a good fit.”
Maulsby purchased land close to her families’ land and used Resource Enhancement and Protection funds to rejuvenate a windbreak on five acres. She planted native trees, including red cedars and oaks, alongside an array of shrubs, reawakening the ecosystem on her land.
“The resources that organizations, counties and our federal government provide could make all the difference for young people and those just starting out,” Maulsby said. “I have written about NRCS, specifically, for years. It has been great learning more about the resources available and sharing this knowledge with landowners.”
Maulsby utilizes her talents as a journalist and published author to share Iowa’s history about conservation from what she has learned from local farmers and her own research. Her stories, along with those of fellow conservationists, instill a sense of responsibility to protect precious resources for future generations. She envisions a brighter future for rural Iowa, where conservation is a cornerstone.
She says she hopes younger generations see opportunities out there.
“I always like to go to Jeremy to get his perspective because I don’t know that young people necessarily think about a career within our or conservation as ag-related or even an option right here in the county,” Maulsby said.
The Iowa Conservation Woman of the Year is selected annually by the Iowa NRCS Federal Women’s Program Committee. The award recognizes a woman who has made significant contributions to conservation and the improvement of Iowa’s natural resources conservation through achievements on her own land, her career or voluntary efforts.