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Dairy life lives on without the cows

Kossuth County couple maintains barn’s originality

-Messenger photo by Clayton Rye
While the Richter’s barn is no longer used for milking, it has been kept up, receiving new paint last summer. Boxes that hold flowers are placed under the windows each summer.

LEDYARD — Herman and Augusta Richter bought their farm in 1912 or 1914. It’s where their grandson Russ Richter and their granddaughter Deanna Richter live today.

A sign designating the Richter farm as a Century Farm is located on their driveway.

Herman and Augusta Richter were parents of eight children, one of whom was Fred, Russ and Deanna’s father. Fred’s farm, where they grew up, was a mile and a half away from their grandparents.

“Just across the field,” said Deanna Richter.

It was grandfather Herman Richter who built the barn for horses and dairy cattle along with a one-room house where Russ and Deanna Richter live today. The house has been enlarged while the barn retains much of its originality.

-Messenger photo by Clayton Rye
The dairy barn interior is in its original condition, only in need of cleaning to return to its former use of daily milking chores.

Uncles Harold and Herman Richter took over the farm from their parents, Herman and Augusta. Russ Richter continued the farm when his uncles quit in 1970.

The barn was always used for dairying, milking 28 cows until 2000. Russ Richter returned to milking after being out of it for a year and later gave it up.

The barn received improvements under Russ Richter’s ownership, getting a new foundation and siding. He also built the silos. It has been a dairy barn all its life and has only had dairy cattle in it.

The barn has been kept up even though there isn’t any livestock in it now.

“Not even a cat,” said Deanna Richter.

The barn received a fresh coat of paint this past summer and window boxes with flowers are placed under each window every summer.

The barn interior has most of the dairy equipment in it, including the barn cleaner. It looks as if the dairy cattle will return someday. The silo unloaders are still in the silos. There is straw in the overhead mow.

Russ Richter has retired from farming and rents the land to another farmer.

Deanna Richter taught business courses at the high school level and, while retired, still works as a substitute teacher when asked.

Having been raised on a dairy farm, plus Russ Richter milked cows much of his farming career, the brother and sister continue with the work ethic they learned from their years with dairy cattle.

“We’ve always had cattle,” said Deanna Richter.

Their daily routine is built around the daily routine they learned while growing up such as three meals a day and working outside.

“We’ve never gotten out of that routine,” said Deanna Richter of the daily schedule of a dairy farm.

She keeps up a large garden through the summer growing potatoes, peas, onions, carrots, Brussel sprouts, watermelons, cantaloupe, kohlrabi, flowers and more.

“I don’t hardly buy vegetables,” she said.

Even in retirement, the Richter’s appreciate their life on the farm.

“It’s a pretty good life,” said Deanna Richter.

“We had pretty good tenants in that barn,” said Russ Richter. “If you took good care of them, they took good care of you.”

The Richter’s dairy cattle milk production placed them in the top ten percent of the state.

When asked what will become of the barn when they will not be able to take care of it, Deanna Richter answered, “That’s got us worried.”

They are hoping that possibly a great nephew will assume the farming and care taking of the barn.

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