By Starrla Cray
WAVERLY, MN Vernon and Mildred Yager of rural Waverly have shared a bushel of memories in the 62 years they’ve been married.
“I tell people I’m still on my honeymoon,” Vernon joked.
Now, they have another memory to add to the list being honored as a Century Farm this summer by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau.
The Yagers will receive a commemorative plaque and certificate, recognizing that their farm has been continuously owned by one family for 100 years or more.
“It’s just a way of living,” Mildred said, speaking of the family’s dedication to farming.
Vernon’s grandfather, Fred Yager, purchased four farms in 1905, including the 110-acre property on Wright County Road 8 near Waverly.
“In 1905, seven acres were fields,” Vernon said, explaining that the majority had been trees and pasture. “By 1950, 35 acres had been converted; and now, it is 90 percent farmland.”
Instead of just the original 110 acres, the property now includes a total of 315 acres, which the Yagers rent to area farmers.
In 1927, the farm was sold to Vernon’s parents, Lewis and Meta.
Vernon started farming in 1952 when his folks moved to Cokato, but the farm wasn’t officially registered in his name until 1966.
He met Mildred in 1947, and the couple was married three weeks before he left for the Korean War.
“I was gone 17 months, to the day,” Vernon recalled.
Finances were uncertain when he returned.
“We had no money at all, but we made it,” said Mildred, who grew up on a dairy farm southeast of Montrose.
In 1982, the Yagers built a new house, replacing one that had been constructed before Vernon’s grandfather arrived on the farm.
“The house was solid as a rock,” Mildred said. “The guy who took it down said he’d never seen anything that tough.”
The Yagers had planned to demolish the old house themselves, but decided against it after Mildred tried and got injured.
“A piece of plaster fell down and knocked me out,” she said. “I have no idea how long I was laying there.”
Although Mildred wasn’t seriously hurt that day, farm life did have its share of dangers.
In 1998, the Yager’s youngest son was crushed by a combine, dying instantly.
“We were right there when it happened,” Mildred said.
Their son was an organ donor, and “gave his whole body to help others,” she added.
The Yagers have one daughter and four sons still living, as well as 14 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.
Vernon suffers from health problems, but the couple still enjoys maintaining their country property, and Mildred plants large gardens each year.
The couple hopes to keep the farm in the family long into the future.