Avoca farm still strong after 103 years
AVOCA -- Ardell Amundson gets up every day and heads out to work the farm he's lived on his entire life. While the herd of cows may be a bit smaller and a lot of the 240 acres are rented out to his neighbors, Amundson still farms his family homes...
AVOCA - Ardell Amundson gets up every day and heads out to work the farm he’s lived on his entire life. While the herd of cows may be a bit smaller and a lot of the 240 acres are rented out to his neighbors, Amundson still farms his family homestead.
Amundson’s father, Emil, married his first wife, Jenna, in 1911. The couple acquired the farm from Jenna’s father and the newlyweds settled in on the property in Des Moines River Township in Murray County. Tragedy would strike three years later as Jenna died of tuberculosis in January 1914.
The deed of the farm was transferred to Emil in November 1915. Emil was remarried in 1918 to Minnie Busswitz, and the couple’s family grew in the coming years with the addition of a daughter, Eunice Mae, and two sons, Harley and Ardell.
The family worked the farm, which was not in the most ideal of conditions. Ardell shared that part of the farm was underwater until it was drained into an open ditch. He added that the water was drained using a free standing plow similar to a snow plow.
A long cable was attached to pull it through the water, and the cable was then pulled by oxen. Once the ground had been drained, county tile was installed with numerous branches to move the water. Once it was dry, it was ready to farm.
Over the years, several changes were made to the landscape as well as the farm’s buildings. Minnie and Emil refurbished the barn for milking cows. They also constructed 10 stalls for the work horses.
In 1929, Emil purchased his first tractor, a John Deere Model “D.” Emil also purchased a nine-row corn picker. Emil enjoyed picking so much, he often did the chore for his neighbors as well. But the years were not always kind for raising corn.
A 30 feet by 14 feet silo was erected beside the barn in 1936. Ardell recalled that in the first year, 40 acres of corn were stored in that silo. A year later, an additional 10 feet was added. In comparison, Ardell was later able to fill the silo with just seven acres of corn.
The family’s work horses were afflicted with sleeping sickness by the end of the decade and died, according to Ardell. Emil purchased a new John Deere tractor in 1940 with a cultivator, mower and corn binder. Ardell’s father used his new equipment to do custom cutting in addition to farming.
The family home remained virtually untouched until the 1930s. By the end of the 1940s, the home’s two porches were enclosed. Ardell has owned the farm for the past 51 years and intends to pass it on to the next generation of Amundsons.
Today, Ardell continues his father’s tradition of John Deeres with several of his own. In his spare time, Ardell refurbishes classic John Deere tractors and uses several on the farm. Ardell bales nearly 80 acres of hay by himself to keep his herd of cattle fed.