JEFFERS — There wasn’t much Dale and Larry Polzin didn’t do together.
Whether walking home together from Red Rock School District 45, playing in their country western band or making tough farming decisions, the two brothers shared a lifetime worth of memories together on their Jeffers family farm.
Earning Century Farm recognition was an exciting moment, especially for Larry, who died April 20, just shortly after receiving official notice.
“He wanted to make it this far,” Dale said of his younger brother, who died at age 72, shortly after a cancerous tumor was discovered.
The brothers’ grandfather, Gottfried Polzin, originally purchased land in Section 13 of Amboy Township, Cottonwood County, in 1899.
The family’s farmhouse that was built in 1920 was Larry’s — a bachelor — lifetime home.
While more than a century has passed, much on the farm still looks similar to its original state.
The original home, which still stands on the property today, now serves as a granary. The barn — which has housed countless ponies, mules and other barnyard animals — also still stands in original form today with “1919” inscribed with white paint at the barn’s peak.
Other structures and machinery on the property also look well used, as the brothers have farmed and lived a conservative lifestyle — a trait instilled in them from their parents, Carl “CF” and Marie Polzin.
While Larry and Dale farmed together religiously, their older brothers also farmed with them through the years until about 1975. Dale and Larry enjoyed planting corn and beans on their now 120-acre farm and tending to their cow-calf herds, swine and mules and ponies over the years.
While Larry lived alone in the farmhouse, Dale wasn’t too far down the road, where he lived with wife Clare before they relocated to Lamberton. Dale and Clare have two children, Kiki (Polzin) Hubert and Robert Polzin.
Clare said there’s very few times her husband and Larry were apart. People called them the Irish Twins, she added.
“Our honeymoon was probably the longest they’ve been apart,” said Clare, a longtime teacher. That was 40 years ago.
As Dale recalls, he began farming at the age of 5. Just 13 months apart in age, Larry wouldn’t have been far behind that, and the two continued their working relationship by sharing the operation equally until Larry’s death. The partnership worked well, as Dale preferred the machinery labor like planting and harvesting while Larry preferred the hand labor of tending to the livestock.
“That was his hobby and work,” Dale said of Larry’s genuine love for the animals. “They always came first.”
Larry loved mules and socializing with others so much that he centered his annual birthday celebration around the two. Around 50 to 60 people would typically attend his birthday covered-wagon ride led by mules.
“Just his close friends,” Dale said jokingly about his brother’s ability to get along with anyone.
While Larry’s short-term memory faded, he could surprise anyone with his ability to mention names of ponies long gone.
“When Larry was in hospice the last while, he was telling people who came to visit what some of the names of the ponies were, and I had forgotten about them,” Dale said of his younger brother.
Dale said he cannot honestly remember a time when the two had a disagreement. In fact, Dale added, that became particularly apparent during an “anonymous” family voting effort the two schemed against their mother while she was still living. Larry or Dale would rip a piece of paper into three pieces. The brothers always got the two end pieces, while their mother was given the middle piece with ripped edges on both sides.
“We always knew how the other voted,” Dale said, adding that they were always on the same page.
Despite downsizing a bit in their older age, Dale said it seems like there’s still the same amount of work. However, it’s a choice he and Larry both dedicated their lives to, and Dale doesn’t regret it.
“(Larry and I) were like old cottonwood trees — our roots go too deep to move or change,” Dale said. “What else would I want to do?”