Farm Horizons, December 2016

Former residents of a Winsted farmstead reflect on their childhood on the farm

By Ana Alexander
Staff Writer

Just south of Winsted on County Road 9, rests an old brick house with rounded white windows and a stately front porch. The property the house is located on also includes a white barn and a variety of smaller sheds and buildings, all of which make up the former Lachermeier farmstead. While Leonard and Daisy Lachermeier farmed on the property, their children Sharon, Sandy, Sue, Cindy, Cherie, and David lived there, as well.

The Lachermeiers rented the property before they moved to Howard Lake in the early 1970s. Years later, when the property owner passed away, the property was left to several churches, and was eventually auctioned off. The farmstead is now owned by Dale Barfknecht, who currently farms on the property.

Farm fun

There was no shortage of fun on the farm for the Lachermeier kids – from making up songs, to playing horseshoes, and playing in the barn.

“In the hay barn, we took the rope and swung over the hay,” Sharon said.

“All the way across,” Cindy added. “That was fun.”

They recalled having other family members visit the farm frequently, and playing with their cousins or hosting games of horseshoes on Sundays. They also remember their mom and dad bringing back treats whenever they would go into town.

“They would always bring back Seven Up Candy Bars, they had seven different flavors, and orange pop,” Sharon said. “That was a treat for us they’d bring back.”

David recalled having fun with their father in the fields.

“I remember dad giving us rides in the bucket, in the tractor – he’d put it up in the air and go in circles,” David said. “That was fun, in the tractor.”

At the end of the day, the kids still found ways to enjoy their time on the farm.

“I remember we used to lay on the roof and look at the stars – on that little shed with the rounded roof,” Sue said.

Farm shenanigans

While there was plenty to do for fun on the farm, there was also room for a little mischief now and then,

“Cherie and I used to tease the bull – his name was Jimmy. We made up a song for that, too,” David said. “He was in a cage, luckily.”

Though Jimmy might have been caged, the Lachermeier kids remember a time when the cows got loose.

“The cows got out and went into town, and we had to go chase them home,” Sharon said.

Cindy remembered taking a more active role in the cows’ escape.

“We used to let them out,” Cindy laughed.

Sandy had a different memory of playing on the farm.

“We went swimming in the cow tank,” Sandy said. “We used it as a swimming pool.”

The kids remember their mother catching them and chastising them for swimming in the tank. There was another time when the kids got in some trouble for their shenanigans.

“[The chicken coop] almost started on fire, because Cindy and I were playing with matches. It was really dry at the time, so when we dropped one on the ground, all of a sudden it was like ‘woosh,’ right by the chicken coop,” Sue said. “Mom and dad were milking cows, so we ran down to the barn.”

Their parents took care of the fire, and the kids were sent up to the house.

In Winsted

The Lachermeier kids attended Holy Trinity Schools before the family moved to Howard Lake. While the younger kids transferred to school in Howard Lake, the oldest kids graduated from Holy Trinity.

“When our dad milked cows, we had the milk cans, and he would take us to school in the morning with these milk cans in the back of the truck – he’d deliver them in town to the creamery,” Sharon said. “But Sandy and I were like, ‘No, we have to go to school with our dad,’ and he’d come driving up to school with those milk cans.”

Sandy added that the two were a little embarrassed by the milk cans.

“I used to have to go through town with the tractor, too, and I was always so embarrassed,” Sandy said.

According to Sharon, she and Sandy never had to do the milking, but they did have to take the milk into the barn and clean the buckets with hot water, which they had to get from the house.

“We went from the barn to the house, and we’d look out to see if anyone was going by,” Sharon laughed. “We didn’t want anyone to see us in the barn.”

“I don’t know why we were so embarrassed, because the town kids loved to come out to the barn,” Sandy said.

According to Sharon, people used to bring their old cars out to the farm and work on them.

“Kids would come out to work on their cars,” Sharon said. “My dad would let them come out to the machine shed, and they would come out all the time to work on their cars.”

Their classmates even gathered at the farm to work on their homecoming parade floats.

“My junior or senior year, for homecoming, our class would come out and we would bring the wagon out and decorate it for the parade,” Sharon said. “Our class did the wagon in the machine shop, too.”

The Lachermeier kids even remember the town kids coming out to help bale hay on occasion.

“City kids came and helped the farm kids,” Sue said.

Farm work

While the Lachermeiers lived and worked on the farm, they had dogs and milk cows, though the sheds and other buildings on the property indicate that at some point, goats, pigs, and chickens were some of the livestock former owners might have had.

“I remember us going out to get the cows when they were way out in the pasture, and we’d have to go out with the dogs to bring them in,” Sharon said. “Sometimes the tractor would take them in, but sometimes we’d walk out to the field.”

The Lachermeiers also farmed corn, mustard, and hay while they lived on the farmstead.

“We went out into the field and did that by hand,” Sandy said about harvesting mustard. “We all drove tractors, too, and we all plowed and baled hay.”

The Lachermeier kids remember baling the hay, even on hotter days.

“When we’d bale hay and it was 100 degrees, [mom and dad] would bring a salt shaker up, and they’d have us eat salt, so we’d drink more water,” Sue said. “To keep you hydrated, because you’d get thirsty.”

The Lachermeiers also recalled stacking the hay in the barn, which was built in 1932. They had to make sure to stack the hay properly and not too full, to avoid a barn fire.

“We had to watch it, because it always got so hot, so it wouldn’t start on fire,” Sandy said.

“Just think how strong that floor had to be to hold all of that hay,” Sharon added.

The Lachermeiers remembered waking up early to do their chores, sometimes alternating who did what tasks.

“We would take turns with chores. [Sandy would] go one day, and I’d go the next – feeding the cows, doing the milk. She’d go one night, and I’d go the next,” Sharon said. “Then, on Saturdays we all had to clean.”

According to the Lachermeier kids, their dad was “very particular” when it came to keeping the barn clean.

“I remember our dad always needed to have the barn looking just right – spotless, we had to have the barn spotless,” Cindy said.

“[Our uncles] Butch and Paulie used to say [our dad] had the cleanest barn around,” Sandy added.

The house

According to David, the farm had about 160 acres when the Lachermeiers lived there. Now, the property includes about 99 acres, which has been used to farm corn.

When the Lachermeiers first moved into the farm, Sharon was just in sixth grade.

“We came out there and there was no bathroom inside – [we had] an outhouse. We had no running water, we had the pump in the kitchen, and then we had to take baths in little washtubs in the living room in front of the stove,” Sharon said. “Our house was cold because all they heated it with was the stove.”

The house has still retained some of its beautiful woodwork, though other parts of the house have worn down over time.

“At that time, our house was considered high-end,” Cindy said. “It had all of the decorative woodwork and rounded windows.”

After the land was auctioned off, the Lachermeier kids asked Barfknecht if they could walk through the house.

“When we went out there, now [the house] seems so small, but when we were smaller, it seemed so big,” Sue said.

Each one of them also got to take a memento back with them.

“We asked [Barfknecht] if we could go in and take some thing for memories, and he said to go ahead,” Cindy said.

Cindy took a register cover from one of the rooms, which she plans to use as a frame for a black-and-white photo of the house. David had a similar idea – he plans to use a piece he removed from the built-in cabinets in the home as a frame for a black-and-white photo of the house. Sandy took the portion of a bedroom door that she had painted flowers on.

The Lachermeiers expressed that it was neat to see the house, and some of the little details they remembered from it during their childhood – their names scrawled in the wallpaper, their old playroom, and pretty flowers Sandy had painted on one of the bedroom doors.

“It was fun to see our names on the walls, and go through there,” Sue said.

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