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Paynesville Press - August 7, 2002

Hawick homestead honored as Century Farm

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

old graneryThe barn, the granary, and the old chicken coop are all that remain of the farm since the house burned in 1994. For 20 years before that, the house sat empty.

At right, a picture of the granery.

Still, this 80-acre farm - located a mile east of Hawick and owned by Ronald and Doreen Thorson - will be honored at the Kandioyhi County Fair this month as a Century Farm, an honor reserved for farms of at least 50 acres that have been owned by the same family for 100 years or more. The farm has been in the Thorson family since 1890.

After they were married in 1957, Ronald and Doreen moved onto a nearby farm, but they purchased the homestead from Ronald's mother in 1972. Now it is part of their 750-acre farm. They milk 60 cows.

Ronald's grandfather, Oscar Thorson, purchased the 80-acre farm in December 1890 and farmed there until 1935. According to Ronald, Oscar and his wife, Anna, raised a little bit of everything on the farm, including chickens, pigs, and milk cows.

Arnold, Ronald's father, took over the farm in 1935. He and Ronald's mother, also named Anna, raised their seven children there.

There was no electricity on the farm until the mid-1940s and no indoor plumbing until the late 1940s. While Ronald was growing up, the family used kerosene lamps for light and the facilities were outdoors.

Ronald doesn't remember the date when the first machinery came to the farm, but he knows that several farmers owned a threshing machine and would travel from farm to farm to harvest small grains until sometime in the late 1940s. He also remembers the first tractor his father bought: a 1020 McCormick Deering with steel wheels.

century farmAn arial view of the farm.

One of Ronalds most vivid memories is of the Armistice Day Blizzard in 1940. His mother raised turkeys and about 20 of the birds liked to roost on the windmill that pumped water for the farm. On Nov. 11, the area had a terrible storm and the turkeys all froze and fell off the windmill.

She gathered up the frozen birds and took them inside to thaw out. She was actually able to save a few of them, he recalled with a laugh.

Arnold died in 1962, and Ronald's mother kept the farm until 1972.

Ronald has been a farmer all of his life. Even during the Korean War, when he served two years in the U.S. Army, he was fortunate enough to be stationed at the state hospital in Willmar where he was close enough to home to continue farming.

The Thorsons raised three children on their farm, within a mile of the original homestead. The children even attended the same country school that Ronald attended as a child. The school was located at the end of the home farm's driveway. Ronald and his son even had the same second grade teacher.

Now, Scott Lieser, one of Ronald's and Doreen's 13 grandchildren, has a new home on the property and works for his grandfather. Ronald believes Scott will be the fourth generation of Thorsons to own and operate the farm.

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