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Greensides reflect on changing times on Jackson County farm

Siblings Ron Greenside and Dolores Dopp celebrate their family's century farm distinction in front of the Jackson County family farmhouse. (Alyssa Sobotka / The Globe)1 / 3
An older aerial view of the Greenside Farm northeast of Jackson. (Special to The Globe)2 / 3
An aerial view of the Greenside Farm. (Special to The Globe)3 / 3

JACKSON — Ron Greenside and Dolores (Greenside) Dopp laugh while reminiscing about growing up in rural Jackson County, periodically exchanging an agreeable “man, have the times changed” comment.

While the siblings recounted their experiences in the evolution of farming, another recent milestone occurred. The third-generation owners of the Greenside Farm in Section 15 of Enterprise Township, northeast of Jackson, recently celebrated Century Farm status.

The 200-acre farm has actually been in the Greenside family since 1916, as Ron and Dolores’ grandparents, Frank B. and Ida Greenside, paid $23,000 for the land after moving from Hamilton County, Iowa.

Frank didn’t tend to the farm long before dying at a young age from suspected kidney disease.

Eventually, their son Verona ‘Vern’ took over, farming the 178 acres of tillable land until his death in 1985. The farm supported Vern and Blanche’s family, which included Ron, Dolores and the late Darlene.

“You don’t hear of farms that are 200 acres and you made a livin’ off of them,” Ron said of his family’s alternate livelihood to what he considers the large farming operations of today.

Ron recalls watching his father raise a variety of crops — from corn, soybeans, oats and wheat — initially by way of draft horse labor.

“I was just a baby when one horse died,” he said. “Well, when one horse died, the other didn’t know what to do and they were lost.”

Ron guessed his dad began with a one or two-row planter, and never evolved to more than a four-row planter.

“It just took longer, but it got the job done,” Ron said. “You can’t (plant) after hours like you can now. You got up and hitched up the horses as soon as you could see what you were doing.”

The operation was not limited to crops. Vern also raised chickens, feeder hogs and dairy cattle throughout the years.

Ron and Dolores were usually not far in tow from their father as kids, helping to bale alfalfa, shell corn or walk beans, something their dad was highly particular about.

“Dad would drive by a field and say, ‘Blanche, would you look at that weedy field.’ I’d be embarrassed,” Ron said in a tone mimicking that of his father’s.

To save their father from embarrassment, Ron, Dolores and Darlene walked their fair share of beans.

“We’d go out early in the morning when it was cool, work ’til noon, take a little break and go back out around 5,” Ron said.

Their original farmhouse had electricity, but no bathroom existed until the completion of a new home in 1967.

The siblings said they managed.

“We had to go outside and use an outhouse,” Ron said. “In the winter, we had an east porch and a west porch. We used a five-gallon bucket with a toilet seat on it. It wasn’t heated out there, but at least it was inside.”

The siblings took turns emptying the pail.

“Of course no one wanted to empty that pail, right, Dolores?” Ron asked his sister.

The family got their indoor plumbing once the new house was constructed, although the process did not occur at the snap of the family’s fingers.

Ron and Dolores recall their parents moving what they presume to be the original house a short distance from where construction of the new place occurred. At that time, Dolores had moved from the home after marrying her late husband.

“We continued to live in that old house,” Ron said. “We put it on cement blocks and hooked up wires.”

As their home was  in limbo, the Greenside family faced a bit of excitement, from skunks to severe weather.

Getting the basement livable was complete by winter, and the family moved into the new home’s basement while construction continued on the upper level.

Ron and his significant other, Diane Thompson, still reside on the property, although Ron does not farm.

“Mom never wanted me to farm. It was Dad’s deal,” said Ron, an auto mechanic at Asa Auto Plaza  in Jackson. “When Dad died, I thought I could farm half of it, but back then farming wasn’t all that great and you don’t get a lot of return for all the effort you put into it.”

Neighbor Larry Ringkob rented the farm ground until his death. Larry’s son, David Ringkob, now rents the ground.

Dolores continues to live close by and, at age 74, provides home health care on a private basis after a 30-year career at Good Samaritan Society in Jackson.

The future of the family farm is yet to be determined.

“Who knows what it’s going to be like in another hundred years?” Ron said.