By Starrla Cray
WRIGHT COUNTY, MN For Ron and Mary Lou Broll, living on their farm in rural Waverly isn’t just a source of income it’s part of who they are.
“It’s in your blood,” Ron said of why he chose to take over the farm from his parents, Edward and Clara.
His wife Mary Lou, who grew up on a dairy farm in rural Albertville, can relate.
“You can have a bad fall, but in the spring you’re ready to go again,” she said.
The Broll farm is one of 144 Minnesota farms to be recognized by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau as a 2012 Century Farm. Qualifying farms have been in continuous family ownership for at least 100 years, and are at least 50 acres in size.
The Broll history
John and Mary Broll settled on the property May 15, 1908.
Just four years later, in 1912, ownership was transferred to John V. Broll, who is assumed to be the son of John and Mary. According to the property abstract, payment for the farm included annual home delivery of $100, 25 cords of stove wood, and three tons of hay.
Ron’s parents were next in line, purchasing the farm in February of 1952. From 1965 to 1984, they had 5,200 laying hens in addition to dairy cows.
Growing up, Ron caught the tail end of the threshing era.
“Those days were fun,” he said. “Threshing only happened one or two days out of the year. For us, it was also the first time we had pop in our life.”
Although he was only about 8 years old at the time, Ron helped the men shock bundles of grain. One farmer in the area owned a threshing machine, and a crew would travel from farm to farm, helping to complete each other’s fields.
“After one to three years of that, the combines started,” Ron recalled.
For several years, Ron attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Waverly, which closed in 1971. His last two years, he switched to public school in Howard Lake, graduating in 1967.
That same year, he began working at Millerbernd in Winsted.
Not long after, however, in 1968, Ron was drafted for the Vietnam War. Nine months later, Ron’s 13-year-old brother passed away.
“There was no one to help on the farm,” Ron said, explaining that his brother was his only sibling.
Because of that, Ron received an emergency discharge from active military service.
A farming family
Ron and Mary Lou met at a wedding dance in Waverly, and got married in 1972.
For the next decade, they farmed with Ron’s parents.
“We bought the farm in 1982,” Mary Lou said. “We’re the fourth generation.”
In 2001, the Brolls sold their dairy herd, and now raise about 125 steers.
“Our equipment was getting run down, and we needed to invest in new equipment if we were going to continue,” Ron said.
To help offset the loss of income from the dairy operation, Ron works full time at Maple Lake Lumber, and Mary Lou works part time at Coborn’s in Delano.
“We both do chores in the morning,” Mary Lou said.
The Brolls own 126 acres, and farm an additional 88 rented acres. Ron tries to get his fieldwork done on weekends, but the weather doesn’t always cooperate. In those cases, he uses vacation days for extra time off work.
The Brolls’ sons, Greg and Mike, are a big help during harvest and planting season.
Greg, his wife, and two children live less than a mile from Ron and Mary Lou, while Mike lives in Owatonna.
Ron and Mary Lou’s daughter, Cheryl, lives in Winsted with her husband and three children.
The Brolls are glad that Cheryl, Mike, and Greg were able to grow up on a farm.
“It’s a good place to raise a family,” Mary Lou said. “Nice and quiet and peaceful.”
Look for stories about other local Century Farms in upcoming issues of the Herald Journal.