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Stouts named Pipestone County Farm Family of 2021

by Sirrina Martinez

     This year’s Pipestone County Farm Family of the Year is the Joan and Ted Stout family of rural Pipestone. They were recognized on Saturday, Aug. 7, prior to the ribbon auction at the Pipestone County Fair.
     Joan said the family was totally caught off-guard, and surprised by the recognition.
     “I think we are just an average farm family living in Pipestone County,” she said.
     “We are very honored to receive the award,” Ted said.
     The Stout family farm is a century farm, which started in 1907 with Ted’s grandfather, Ted Smallfield. Ted’s parents Bob and Lucien ran the operation for a while, growing corn and soybeans and raising milk cows, fat cattle and a few hogs and chickens. They also ran a seed corn business: Stout and Heesch Seeds. Ted started running the farm right out of high school in 1984 and now the Stouts custom feed out 13,200 swine a year for the Spronk Brothers of Edgerton, and crop farm corn, soybeans and alfalfa hay. They also own and operate J&T Waste Custom Manure, where they haul around 18 million gallons of manure per year.
     A family affair, Ted and Joan handle the day-to-day operation around the farm, and their son Darrell helps out on the weekends and during the fall manure hauling season. They also have five part-time employees who are a part of the manure hauling crew. Outside of farming, Joan works full-time at the Pipestone Veterinarian Clinic in the research division, and Ted is a Gray Township Supervisor. Darrell and his wife Megan live on the farm with their sons Nolan and Mays. Outside of farming Darrell works for Enel Wind Services as a wind tower technician, and Megan works for Nutrien Ag Solutions. Ted and Joan’s daughter Aggie Kennedy lives in South Dakota and works as an audiologist and her husband Matt Kennedy works for Nutrient Advisors.
     According to the University of Minnesota Extension Office in Pipestone, to be nominated for Farm Family of the Year, an individual or family must either be Minnesota food producers actively involved in agricultural production with one or more agricultural enterprises, or have made significant short-term progress and/or innovative contributions with their agricultural endeavors. The criteria list also said that nominees should have demonstrated a commitment to enhancing and supporting the field of agricultural production and have some involvement in their communities and/or related organizations.
     The Stouts have volunteered their time and resources to different groups within the Pipestone County community and can usually be found around the grill at community events if pork is being served.
     “The Stouts are very involved in many local organizations,” said Carol Scotting, the administrative support specialist with the Pipestone County Extension Office. “Organizations including the Pipestone County Pork Producers, Pipestone Area Baseball Softball Association and the Pipestone Development Company.”
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A rich legacy for Jackson Saddle Club


Over the last couple of years, Jackson County has put itself on the map as a center of excellence for horsemanship. Not only does the county have a strong 4-H horse program, but another community organization, the Jackson Saddle Club, has put in immense amounts of time and work in to promote horse shows and build a love of the sport.
“The saddle club has been around since the ’50s or ’60s,” said club secretary and treasurer Cathy Holthe. “I joined it in 1990.”
Her daughter, Jade, is now the president of the club. Like her mother, Jade Holthe has been riding horses ever since she was a small child. Now, she’s helping instill that lifelong passion in local youngsters and others interested in horsemanship, as well as her own daughter, Zayda.
“We work a lot with 4-H kids, we set up clinics for people and we do events and shows together,” Jade Holthe said. “We also do fundraising events.”
The club recently hosted a fundraising event for a man injured in an accident. The club has hosted many similar events in the past, usually to raise funds for someone in need of help or for a local cause.
“We’ve raised money for people who’ve had accident or are in need of surgery and we always try to pick someone local,” Jade Holthe said. “We raised more than $1,400 for a family this year.”
Numerous club members have received state and national accolades for their work. Sadie Hotzler won the title of Junior Miss Rodeo Minnesota and Tanner Christoffers won the title of Miss Teen Rodeo Minnesota 2021. Christoffers previously won the title of Junior Miss Rodeo Minnesota in 2018.
The saddle club is registered as part of the Prairie Saddle Club Association, itself part of one of the largest national horsemanship organizations, the Western Saddle Club Associations.
But racking up accolades like that requires a lot of work, the Holthes said, and the saddle club certainly puts that in — as do its members. The horse arena at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Jackson was largely built by the club, which has continued to invest in the facility.
The response from local 4-Hers has been resoundingly positive.
“It used to be pretty small but, as of now, most 4-Hers involved in projects have joined,” Jade Holthe said.
The club’s various shows and events attract participants from outside the county as well and, come county fair time, plenty of people bring their animals in front of crowds there.
While the arena certainly impresses participants, the Holthes say, it’s the ethos of the club itself — friendly, caring, hardworking and always willing to applaud a good show — that leaves the strongest impression.
“People comment on how much they like to come here and how friendly everyone is,” Jade Holthe said. “We always cheer for people if they’re new, especially the younger kids.”
Jade Holthe is already teaching her daughter, who is nearly 2 years old, to ride horses. Like her mother and grandmother, little Zayda Holthe is a natural.
“She’s already in the club,” Jade Holthe said.

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Blumes are 2020 Nobles County Farm Family of the Year

The Blume family of rural Worthington was the Nobles County Farm Family of the Year for 2020. Adam Blume said he found out last spring that the family would receive the honor and was surprised they were chosen.
“It’s a nice honor,” he said. “It kind of makes your family stand out in the county.”
Blume and his wife Maggie, their children Brock, Brinley, Bryer, and Brekka, and Maggie’s daughters Alaina and Samantha live about 2.5 miles west of Worthington. They raise about 1,200 head of beef cattle and grow primarily corn and soybeans, as well as some spring wheat, on almost 3,000 acres.
Blume is the fourth generation to farm at the site. He said his 5-year-old, Brock, is “farm nuts” and he thinks there’s a “strong chance” that at least one of his boys will get into farming and become the fifth generation to farm the land.
“We’ll see what the future holds,” he said.
Blume said his great-grandfather, Jack, moved to Minnesota from Illinois with his family as a child and later started farming at the site. Blume suspects that the farm is a century farm, but he hasn’t verified that.
Blume grew up on the farm and said he knew as a child that he wanted to farm. He attended college at Minnesota West Community and Technical College in Worthington and Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, majoring in ag business with a minor in agronomy.
The farm was operated by Blume’s father, Tim, and uncle, Bob, under the name Blume Brothers at the time. Blume said his father had a heart attack in 2009 when Blume was in his second year of college and he and his wife Laurie moved to Worthington one year after that. Bob retired from farming in 2013 and Blume bought into the operation and partnered with his father. The operation is now called Blume Family Land and Livestock.
Blume said it’s “the pride and passion of farming” that made him want to continue the family profession. It can be stressful, he said, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
He said he and his father, a full-time hired man and two seasonal employees work on the farm. Blume said his father, 66, is looking to retire and they’re working on a plan to bring in another man in his 20s who wants to get into farming to help with the operation.
In addition to farming, Blume is a member of the Worthington School Board and the Rock Nobles Cattlemens Association, and runs the grader for Worthington Township. Maggie is a paraprofessional at Prairie Elementary School in Worthington.
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Former Iowa farmer saving lives worldwide

A former Iowa farmer is helping save lives across the globe.
Greg Stout and his wife, Vicky, farmed near Washington, Iowa, but together decided they would go into mission work, ending up in Nicaragua. While there, one of the first things he did was help rural village people dig a well. The well produced a good volume of water but proved unsafe to use for anything.
“Greg came back to Iowa and one of the first things he said was, ‘We have to do something about that,’ and he did,” said Julie Battern of Arnolds Park, Iowa. “Greg invented a simple means to create chlorine to use to purify water in underdeveloped countries, especially the rural villages.”
Battern and her husband, the retired Rev. John Battern, met and married while both were students at Buena Vista College in Storm Lake, Iowa. The Rev. Battern served as a United Methodist Church minister in many communities throughout Iowa over his years in ministry and one of those communities was New Sharon, Iowa. And that is where the Batterns met the Stouts.
“Greg Stout created this device to simply and quickly create chlorine using basically two teaspoons of ordinary table salt and a small, sturdy plastic cup, which is equipped with titanium electrodes at the bottom connected to a 12-volt battery by two battery cables,” the Rev. Battern said. “The table salt is placed in a small plastic bottle, shaken up and poured through the plastic cup with the electrodes hooked to the battery. That process results in the creation of enough chlorine — about 6 ounces — which can then be used to treat 250 gallons of unsafe water making it clean for use in cooking, to drink and for other safe water needs.”
The ministry Greg and Vicky Stout started 15 years ago grew into Safe Water International Ministries — or SWIM for Him — and continues to grow today, touching the lives of hundreds of thousands of people living in third-world countries that previously suffered from lack of safe water, causing major loss of life and much disease.
Yet still today, 20 percent of the world’s population lacks access to safe water, which equates to 1 billion people.
“In fact, 25,000 people die every day from diseases related to water,” the Rev. Battern said. “And as many as half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases.”
Additionally, contaminated water accounts for 80 percent of all diseases and claims the lives of 5 million children a year.
The SWIM for Him water purification kit includes the hard plastic cup with titanium electrodes and battery cables, a chart for adaptation of the chlorine for different water situations, a solar panel to provide power to operate the device when 12-volt battery power is not available and instructions in its use. The cost of each kit is around $300.
“Typically, a village pastor or chieftain keeps possession of the water purification kit and does the work to create the chlorine,” the Rev. Battern said. “In all the kits that have been distributed I have only heard of one failure. Titanium lasts forever and the kits come with a chlorine test unit to make sure the water is being disinfected.”
The Rev. Battern is one member of the six-member board of directors of SWIM for Him. He is available to speak to any group about this ministry ranging from boys’ clubs to churches and church groups to community service organizations. He travels some distances to give his presentations.
“Julie and I will be taking a mission trip for SWIM to Africa in October of this year,” he said. “We will be taking two suitcases full of 50 water purification kits. Each kit will take care of the safe water needs for 1,000 people.”
So, in the three countries in Africa the Batterns will travel to — Kenya, Uganda and Malawi — the safe water needs of 50,000 villagers will potentially be met.
“This is life changing for the village people in these third-world countries,” Julie Battern said. “The people come joyful and happy to have safe water, yet having so little, they are so generous with what they do have and are so grateful. Providing for their water needs opens the villagers up to hearing God’s message of salvation.
“Prayers for our October mission trip to Africa and the ministries of SWIM are very much appreciated,” she said. “SWIM’s mission is to share Christ’s Love through water and his word.”

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Boerbooms are 2020 Murray County Farm Family of the Year

The Jeff and Eunice Boerboom family is Murray County’s 2020 Farm Family of the Year. Jeff Boerboom said they found out they’d received the honor last summer and that it was “very unexpected.”
“I was quite surprised because I don’t really consider us a farm family like we used to be,” he said.
The Boerbooms bought their farm north of Hadley a little over 20 years ago. Boerboom said the family used to feed 3,000 to 4,000 head of hogs ween to finish, raise around 130 cattle, raise goats and grow crops. Boerboom has also had a seed business for about 25 years.
Over the course of several years, the family got rid of the hogs and most of the cattle, Eunice’s brother, Gerald, took over farming the land, and about four years ago Boerboom decided to focus on his seed business. The family still has a few cattle as a hobby, still grows corn and soybeans on seven or eight acres and grows a couple acres of alfalfa for the goats, and has 30 purebred Nubian goats.
They currently milk seven of the goats twice a day, and sell some for meat and some for breeding. Jeff said they bought their first goats about 24 years ago because their oldest son, Jacob, was very allergic to dairy. He said their chiropractor suggested they try goat milk and it worked.
Eunice makes chevre cheese with the goat milk, and cajeta, which is a Mexican caramel made of goat’s milk, sugar and vanilla, and sells them privately and at farmers markets under the name Wheezy Summit Farm. He said they also sell goat milk to people in the area who raise puppies and use it for a supplement.
“We find little niches for it,” Boerboom said.
He said the goats have proven to be a fun hobby and that their children get involved in caring for them too.
Boerboom’s seed business in Slayton is called Boerboom Seed and Consulting. He sells Pioneer seeds and works with about 50 or 60 farmers in the area, helping them make decisions about their operations.
“It’s my passion,” Boerboom said. “It’s what I love.”
In addition to being a seed dealer, raising goats and farming some cropland, Boerboom has a lawn care business called Ultimate Lawn by Jeff.
Boerboom said he likes to stay busy and keep moving and growing. That’s evidenced by the fact that in addition to all his other activities, he’s president of the Murray County Pork Producers, on the executive committee of Three Church in Slayton and a member of the Murray County Fair Board.
The Boerboom’s children, Jacob, Cameron, Alyssa and Lucas, range in age from 9 to 25. They have been and are active in 4-H over the years.
“We love to show goats,” Boerboom said.
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Johns brings lifetime passions to Tracy Area Gardens and Quilts Tour

Tracy area resident Jolynn Johns has been involved in quilting and gardening for decades, going all the way back to when she was a kid, growing up in Minneota.
     “When I was a child, my family had a large vegetable garden and my grandmother had huge flower beds, which I loved, and she also taught me how to quilt,” Johns said.
     After marrying and moving to a farm north of Tracy, childhood hobbies transformed into necessities, as Johns used her sewing skills to make and repair clothes for her husband and children.
     “My first sewing machine was bought at an auction for $5,” Johns said. “I sewed dresses and patched overalls and other things for my family, and I started getting plants from my neighbors for the garden.”
     In 2015, Johns, whose entrepreneurial and creative mindset led her to create beautiful flower gardens at home and launch a successful salon business, got talking with a few other ladies interested in her two passions. They teamed up that year to host the first Tracy Area Gardens and Quilts Tour.
     The tour — a fundraiser for the St. Mary’s Council of Catholic Women of Tracy —involves the selection of sites throughout the area that have beautiful flower gardens. Once people agree to participate, sites are set up for people to drive to and interact with hosts while enjoying the scenery.
     Johns came up with an idea to improve the concept — hanging quilts in the gardens, thereby adding more color and artistry to each site.
     She was inspired, in part, by the way her two hobbies developed alongside each other.
     “My quilting took off in the ’90s and so did my gardening, so they really developed at the same time,” Johns said. “I suggested hanging the quilts in the gardens, and we decided to serve pies afterward at a local restaurant.”
     Finding quilters is done the same way as finding gardeners — local people who know the craft and want to show their work are asked if they’re willing to do so or volunteer themselves.
     “We try to have 10 to 15 quilt displays in each garden and sometimes we have 70 quilts or more,” Johns said. “People can purchase their tickets at any of the sites and that ticket is good for both the tour and the pies and ice cream afterward.”
     The result of that first tour was a smashing success, bringing people who share Johns’ passion from far and wide, neighbor and stranger alike.
     “We try to bring in both local people and folks from outside the community,” Johns said. “We get people from South Dakota, Iowa and the Cities, because there are so many people who like gardening and quilting.”
     This year, organizers are adding a raffle, which will allow people to win a quilt and some other prizes as well, along with a new suite of sites, all located in Tracy. The 2021 tour will take place from 2 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 7.
     “We’ve got some great gardens this year,” Johns said. “We always try to keep our sites within a nice, safe driving distance.”
     Being involved in an event like this — and contributing both to its original concept and first round of sites back in 2015 — took time and energy, but Johns said it’s ultimately another way to show southwest Minnesota and beyond what the Tracy area and its people have to offer, while continuing to support two passions she’s had for most of her life.
     “The satisfaction of seeing other people enjoy what we do and having people come from out of town is great,” she said. “It’s really about being able to show our work and love for quilting and gardening.”