By Starrla Cray
CARVER COUNTY, MN From horses and milk buckets to tractors and pipelines, farming has come a long way since the Hoeft and Latzig farms were established in the early 1900s.
These two Carver County farms, along with 215 other Minnesota farms, were chosen by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau as 2010 Century Farms.
Latzig family farm
Lowell and Darlene Latzig sold their cows 16 years ago, but they still recall the way of life that brought them where they are today.
Lowell’s grandfather, Otto Friederich Latzig, purchased the farm, which is located on Carver County Road 30 near New Germany, in 1901. He paid $4,000 for 80 acres of land, which had previously been owned by Anton and Catherine Schubert.
According to a historical documentation of the farm’s history, “Mr. Latzig was a very thrifty man. He had the farm paid for within a short time.”
Before coming to America in 1885 with his wife, Wilhelmina, and two small children, Otto worked in a sawmill in Germany.
They had originally settled in South Dakota, but came to Minnesota looking for better farming opportunities.
The brick house where Lowell and Darlene live was built in 1913-14. The barn was also built that year.
Eventually, the farm was sold to Otto’s son, Paul, who is Lowell’s father.
“We lived together with my dad,” Lowell said. When Paul passed away, they purchased the farm.
Throughout the years, Lowell witnessed many technology changes. He remembers putting in the barn cleaner, and later, a liquid manure system.
At first, the milk was put into cans, and cooled in a water tank. A few years later, they purchased a milk cooler.
The bulk tank was purchased in 1965, and the pipeline was installed in 1974.
“I never pasteurized the milk,” Darlene said. “We drank it straight out of the bulk tank.”
In the early years, hay was hauled into the barn loose, Lowell said.
“Then, we bought a square baler; then, a round baler,” he said.
When the Latzig’s son, Dean, got older, he began milking the cows and running the farm. However, he had to quit when he was diagnosed with a genetically inherited emphysema called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Last time Dean was tested, he had a lung-capacity of only 10 percent, Darlene said.
As a result, the family sold the cows, and now rents out the land.
According to Dean, one of the best parts of farming was “being your own boss.”
“There were days you had to put a lot of time in, but there were also days you could goof off,” Lowell agreed.
Hoeft family farm
The 155-acre farm on Tacoma Avenue near Mayer where Larry and his wife, Paula, now make their home is brimming with history.
Larry Hoeft’s great-grandfather, John Gongoll, purchased the farm in 1909.
Gongoll later sold the farm to his son, Edward, and daughter, Mary. Mary and her husband, Gustav Hoeft, were Larry’s grandparents.
Larry’s parents, Martin and Marjorie Hoeft, bought the farm in 1951.
Larry, who graduated from Watertown-Mayer High School, has many memories of growing up on a farm.
“I was farming it the whole time when my dad owned it,” he said.
When he was young, the family used horses in the fields.
“I remember horses in the barn,” Larry said. “I still remember the machinery they had to pull behind them.”
The Hoefts’ first two tractors were a 1953 Oliver and a 1954 Ford.
The house that the Hoefts live in has had a lot of changes throughout the years, as well.
“We didn’t have running water in the house,” Larry said.
The Hoefts aren’t sure what year the house was built, but they have since remodeled everything.
“It has to be at least 100 years old,” Paula said.
When Larry purchased the farm in 1982, his parents moved to a smaller house on the property.
Now, Larry and Paula’s son, Eddie, and daughter-in-law, Lindsey, live in the smaller house with their son, Nathan.
If one of his children purchases the farm someday, they would most likely move into the bigger house, Larry said.
Larry and Paula’s other children include a son, Andy, and daughter, Jill.
Eddie and Andy both work for Magney Construction, Inc. in Chanhassen, and Paula works in human resources at Ridgeview Hospital in Waconia.
The Hoeft family sold their cows during a dairy buy-out in 1986, but they plan to keep the property. Currently, one neighbor rents the barn in order to raise heifers, and another neighbor rents the land.
“It’s staying here in the family,” Larry said. “We have no intention of selling it.”
After selling his herd, Larry worked in the warehouse department of SuperValu in Hopkins. He retired three years ago, and now helps other farmers with their work.
People often call him when they need someone to milk cows or drive tractor, he said.
“I’m still involved in it,” he said.
To see the full list of Century Farms for 2010, go to www.fbmn.org and click on “news releases.” Open the page labeled “More than 200 Century Farms honored in 2010.”
Look for an article about two Howard Lake Century Farms in the Monday, May 31 issue of the Herald Journal.