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Paynesville Press - August 20, 2003

Hemmeschs have Century Farm by Lake Henry

By Ryan Flanders

Hemmesch"I was born and raised on this farm," said Leo Hemmesch, whose family has been passing on their farm north of Lake Henry since it was purchased by Hemmesch's great-grandfather in 1901.

Hemmesch said there have been a lot of changes in farming since he was a young boy. "I can still remember when my grandpa plowed with horses here," said Hemmesch. "He would plant corn and seed oats with the horses. You only had a two-bottom plow for all that," he added.

Up until just five years ago, Hemmesch kept a team of horses that he used to pick rocks and haul manure. But a lot more can be done with modern tractors than horses, said Hemmesch, and a lot more corn and milk are produced than used to be.

Hemmesch's wife, Mary Jo, also grew up on a farm. "I love life on a farm," she said. "You don't have to get in a vehicle everyday to go to work. Work is at home for you, and you can raise your children together," she added.

Hemmesch prefers the variety of farm work. "You're not always doing the same thing. You're your own boss, and there's constant different jobs. From spring you're planting, then harvesting hay and grain, filling silo, picking corn, and then getting the fields tilled again."

When asked what they dislike about farming, both husband and wife answered in unison: "Picking rocks!"

Although the size of farming operations continues to grow, Hemmesch advises to be careful not to expand too quickly. "Don't go too big too soon. If you go real big you can't afford the payments," he said. "Slowly work your way up."

square-nail granary The Hemmeschs have lived by that motto when adding and replacing new farm buildings. The barn was put up in 1908 and not replaced until 1955. A granary was built in 1934, a machine shed in 1963, a silo in 1978, and an additional machine shed in 1980. The house was remodeled in 1990, and an additional youngstock barn was recently put up in 1999.

One original building remains. An old granary - which was built some time before 1901, when Peter Hemmesch, Leo's great-grandfather, purchased the place - was constructed using square nails. Hemmesch sais that people have not used square nails for a long time, which suggests the building could be quite old. It is also one of the only granaries he knows to have an upstairs in it.

The farm's history is traceable from Hemmesch's great-grandfather, who sold the farm to Jacob Hemmesch in 1906, who in turn passed it on to Marcus Hemmesch in 1941. Marcus purchased an additional 40 acres in 1943, and began renting the 240-acre farm to Leo in 1972. Leo bought the farm in 1977.

"I was the only boy, so dad was willing to sell it to me whenever the time came, cause I just had two sisters," said Hemmesch.

Hemmesch's own family consists of five boys and no girls. Currently, two of them are farming and one is interested in starting. Hemmesch said he hopes that he will eventually be able to turn the farm over to one or more of his sons.

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