Farm Horizons, September 2001

Roots of Diers homestead run deep

By Lynda Jensen

As a boy, Mark Diers used to walk the same farm, fields, and homestead that his sons do now.

Mark, and his wife Patty, own an original sixth generation farm, which features about eight original out-buildings, acreage, and familiar red barn that was erected 1917 and had an addition put on the year that Mark was born in 1957, he said.

Deep roots

The Diers' roots reach back to 1886, when Henry Diers bought land from the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad, after the Civil War. This land represents the homestead today.

Henry is one of four brothers that settled the Howard Lake area, along with a swell of other homesteaders, Mark Diers said.

Three years before this date, the Dustin family was massacred by Indians northwest of town. The village of Howard Lake was incorporated seven years later, in 1878.

The Diers brothers also have numerous relatives in Nebraska, Mark said.

Henry had a son named Otto, who is Mark's great grandfather. Otto married Ida and had three children, two daughters and one son, Hubert.

Hubert, who is Mark's grandfather, married Alice, and two sons, Dale and Mark's father, Glenn.

Glenn married June, and had four children, Mark, Janis, Carol, and Dean. June passed away in the 80s, Mark said.

Glenn then married Betty. The couple spent several years farming until recently in the Winsted area, where they reside now.

The homestead has been home to at least two generations of Diers, with a small house located on five acres to the west that grandparents used to use, he said.

"Everybody worked together," he said.

The grandparents' house was sold to Jeff and Tammy Amland.

Here and now

Nowadays, the Diers farm is much the same, with the exception of dairying, Mark said.

"It was a dairy farm until 1991, when they sold the dairy cows," he said.

The homestead always carried crops, starting out with 184 acres in the 1880s, down to 140 acres of corn and soybeans now.

Diers farmed every year of his life except one. He couldn't stand it, being away from farming, and returned to this soon after, he said.

"I always enjoyed agriculture, livestock, and having iron around," he said.

Currently, in addition to farming he is a district sales manager for Producers Hybrids, which is a company that is American owned, and family owned, he said.

Previously, Diers worked for Northrup King for six years, and Mycogen for seven years.

The region he serves for Producers Hybrids reaches from St. Cloud, to Windom, to the Iowa border, and Wisconsin, he said.

The future of farming is secure because people need to eat, Patty said.

Times are definitely changing, though, Patty said. Nowadays, city folks will move out to the country and expect farms not to stink, she said. Even allowing dogs to run free as they used to is an issue, she said.

Farmers must get larger to turn a profit, which causes problems with manure. "There are issues with the Environmental Protection Agency," she added.

The margins are much tighter now, too, Mark noted. In 1976, Diers remembers corn being $2.42 per bushel. Now it is about $1.74, he said.

The crop this summer looks good, Mark said, but has been downgraded from a bumper crop to an average crop, he said. Crops around the region look great compared to the rest of his sales area, he said.

The excessive heat stresses the crop when it gets in the upper 90s, he said. This hurt crop growth.

Hail caused a problem for the Diers two years in a row, he said. He is very optimistic, he said.

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