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Century farm built on generations of history

The Busswitz farm in rural Westbrook was settled by family in 1894.

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Brian (left) and Pam Busswitz stand in front of the original barn, June 8, 2021. (Leah Ward/The Globe)

WESTBROOK — A Murray County farmstead has earned its Century Farm designation thanks to more than 100 years of family ties on a little plot of land.

Ernest and Caroline Cohrs were born in Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1870. After moving around a couple of times within Minnesota, they finally settled in rural Westbrook in 1894 and established a farm where they grew, oats, flax and corn.

After Ernest's death, son and daughter-in-law Henry and Christine Cohrs took over the farm, then later passed it to their daughter, Christine. Christine married Leander Busswitz, and the two continued the family legacy.

Leander and Christine's grandson Brian Busswitz currently runs the farm and grows corn, soybeans — "and rocks," he joked. He grew up on the family farm and shared many happy memories of his grandparents.

Christine, or Grandma Tini, "was the true personality of the whole bunch," said Brian's wife, Pam.

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"She was the nicest grandma I could ever have," Brian recalled. "She would always think you were more important than she was."

Tini didn't just have a big heart. She was also a master of many trades, including crochet, poetry and baking.

"She was born with an apron on," Brian said, sharing that Tini spent many hours in the kitchen making all kinds of delicious treats. She would watch television and peel apples into her apron, then when she was finished would gather the ends of her apron and carry the peels to the compost pile.

Tini fed her children and grandchildren both physically and spiritually. Many family events, like weddings, baby showers and funerals, included Tini reciting a poem she had written for the occasion. She also wrote poems about her loved ones, commemorating their legacies in ink. Her poems now exist as a cohesive volume for her progeny to enjoy.

Leander and Tini ran the farm together for 50 years. When their two older boys left to fight in Vietnam, Leander needed another set of hands, so third son Marvin, Brian's father, quit school to help out on the farm — an ironic outcome, Brian noted, as Leander was on the school board for 30 years.

Marvin would later take over the farm in 1982. Although he discouraged his son from farming full-time (it was too unpredictable a career), Marvin wasn't able to scare Brian away.

"I always wanted to farm," Brian said. "I just love it."

However, at his father's urging, Brian went to trade school in Canby and became a certified equipment mechanic. As it turns out, his skill has come in handy on the farm countless times.

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In addition to managing 74 acres of crops, Brian and Pam also have quite the menagerie on their property. They've always got a few farm cats, plus a friendly dog, but their most exotic addition is a pair of llamas, Sweetie and Sassafras.

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Llamas Sweetie and Sassafras bring joy to the Busswitz farm, June 8, 2021. (Leah Ward/The Globe)

The llamas are a never-ending source of entertainment for the couple, who love watching the llamas' personalities emerge.

When they're not tending the crops, garden or pets, Pam and Brian (but mostly Pam) also run an antiques shop out of the barn, the only remaining original building on the property. Pam curates the inventory of glassware, furniture, toys and books, while Brian helps with maintenance of the old building.

The barn still has remnants of its past, including horse numbers and an old account book showing the purchases of Brian's ancestors, but it primarily serves as a showroom for other relics.

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The original Busswitz barn is now an antique shop, June 8, 2021. (Leah Ward/The Globe)

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Brian and Pam are still learning about the Busswitz roots, but for now, they're content to appreciate the heritage that makes their home their "own little piece of paradise."

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Busswitz Farm inhabitants include two llamas, June 8, 2021. (Leah Ward/The Globe)

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