The photo above is of the Andersen family farm in Chatfield, Minnesota. It’s a farm that only exists in the memories of my brother, sister, and my cousins, as it had ceased operations by the time I was born. My dad would tell stories of moving from a 40-acre farm during the Great Depression to the one pictured above, which was an 80-acre farm. My grandfather never used a tractor. He farmed that 80 acres with the help a team of horses.
It was on this farm that my dad spent his childgood raising pigs and sheep to take to market. He was up before dawn to milk cows before he walked several miles to the one-room school house he attended. The farm was the center of family life. While researching this I found the newspaper in Chatfield would report on who visited who, and who had visitors, and what they did. The Andersen family farm was at the center of much of the activity in the small town.
Today, the old family farm is part of a larger farm. The farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings are either falling over or gone. The story of my family’s farm is one that isn’t much different than other family farms of the post-World War II era. In my family’s case, my dad and uncles had gone to war, and the last thing they wanted to do when they came home was farm. When my grandfather passed away my grandmother kept it going with hired hands. But when she passed away a few months after I was born, the farm was sold. In other cases, family farms were lost due to a couple bad growing seasons, or low grain and milk prices. As the number of farms shrank, the acreage per farm grew considerably larger.