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Paynesville Press -September 1, 2004

Century Farm named in St. Martin Township

By Bonnie Jo Hanson

For well over 100 years, generations of Revermanns have called the family farm in St. Martin Township home. This summer, the farm that Mike Revermann's grandfather built was honored as a Century Farm by Stearns County.

Mike, who now shares the farm with his long-time partner Pam Broughgon, has lived on the family farm "forever," he said. He was born there, and, with the exception of a short time when he lived in a trailer house at the end of the driveway, he has always lived on the site of the original house.

farm In the century since Mike's grandfather Bernard Revermann built the family farm, much has changed on the property. The house burned down years ago and most of the outbuildings are gone too.

This ariel photograph of the Revermann farm in St. Martin Township was taken sometime during the 1950s. The farm that Bernard Revermann built in 1900 was recently honored by Stearns County as a Century Farm.

The stone that once supported the old barn still stands, but much of the barn has tumbled down. Mike has saved some of the barnwood and is building his daughter a playhouse with it. Other than that, the only thing that remains of his grandfather's farm is the original mailbox, which - complete with a bullet hole where someone once used it for target practice - has weathered countless storms and survived hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of strikes by tractors and snowplows since mail delivery began, Mike figured.

Still, Mike can't imagine living anywhere else, he said.

Bernard built this farm after moving to Minnesota from California to start an apple orchard. Besides apple trees, Bernard and his wife Agnes raised enough livestock and produce to support their family of four children.

In those days, tractors were unheard of and automated milking systems weren't available, so the Revermanns worked the fields with horses and hand-milked their small dairy herd, said Mike. They worked more than 240 acres by hand to raise their own feed and enough corn and wheat to sell. They also sold cream from their dairy cows and traded eggs for groceries. "Back then, every little town had its own creamery," said Mike. The creameries made mostly butter, he said, and farmers like his grandparents used the skim milk that was left over to feed their hogs.

Life for the Revermann family was typical of early Minnesota farmers, said Mike. The children, including Mike, went to a country school about a mile across a field and the family was self-sufficient. Bernard and then Mike's father Aloys were active in the community as members of the creamery board and board members for the country school.

farm family Life for most farmers changed during the depression, according to Mike, and his family was no different. During that time, Bernard sold some of the property to raise money for his family, but he was lucky to not lose the farm like some of his neighbors did.

Mike Revermann (right) - shown with his family Kelly and Pam Broughgon and Justine Revermann - was born and raised on the farm his grandfather built more than 100 years ago.

The family survived the depression because they were largely self-sufficient. They raised their own food, Mike's grandmother sewed their clothes, and the family sold firewood from their many wooded groves to pay for other essentials.

One story Mike remembers his father telling him about those hard times was his grandfather making and selling moonshine to make ends meet. Although the details were vague - after all, selling moonshine was illegal - Mike grinned as he told of the federal agents who destroyed his grandfather's still, the remains of which can still be found on the Revermann property.

Mike's father and mother Doreen bought the farm from Bernard in the 1950s and raised 13 children on it. During the 1950s, the farm operated much like it had during its first half century, but around 1960, things began to change when an automated milking system was added to the dairy barn, making it possible for the Revermann family to expand their dairy herd to 20 cows and eventually to 40 cows and made it possible to sell whole milk.

During that time, the family still used horses for much of the farming - they did until about 1965 - but what the family grew changed. Oats and hay were still normal, but the addition of 30 acres of cucumbers, which were sold to Gedney for pickles, was a change. And as the family grew, so did the family garden, said Mike. Eventually, it covered a couple of acres, but now it has been converted into a grass lawn.

Mike's parents lived in the same house that Bernard built until 1970, when the original farmhouse burned down. Another house was built on the same site where Mike moved his own family in the mid-1980s. He farmed the land for a while, but eventually he leased the farm and took a construction job.

Now, instead of livestock, Mike and Pam raise children and dogs. Mike has five grown children and Pam has two grown children and a teenage daughter at home. Together Mike and Pam have a seven-year-old daughter.

Mike, Pam, and the younger girls are active in 4-H, in the Stearns County 4-H Dog Club, and they raise and show animals as 4-H projects.

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