September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.
They are the fifth generation on this Kulzer dairy farm, south of Greenwald, now operated by their parents, Mike and Julie.
"My great-grandpa first homesteaded the land," Mike's dad, Ken Kulzer said Thursday afternoon, sitting around the kitchen table in the farm house with his wife, Dorine, and Mike.
It's a house that has seen additions and remodeling projects since it was built in 1938, much like the farm buildings, machinery and animals.
A history buff, Ken has collected family information dating back to 1863 when his great-grandfather, John Adam Kulzer, arrived in America from Moosbach, Germany, at the age of 24, settling in Grove Township, two miles south of the soon to be named German settlement of Meire Grove.
In 1871, John first homesteaded 160 acres in Section 29 of Grove Township, which is currently the Nietfeld farm, in Greenwald. On July 10, 1867, he married Franzisca Bosel, who arrived in American from Eslarn, Germany, about 1867.
"It is believed that John Adam and Franzisca knew each other before arriving in Minnesota because Moosback and Eslarn are neighboring towns in Bavaria," said Ken.
John donated some of this land for the townsite of Greenwald and it was agreed to be called Kulzer.
"But the name never stuck and the villagers agreed to call it Eslarn, a name suggested by Franzisca possibly after her hometown in Bavaria. The railroad didn't like the name Eslarn because it looked too much like Elrosa, the next community to the west and so the railroad changed the name again to Greenwald," Kenny explained.
John and Franzisca raised a family of 11 children and adopted two town orphans, Mary Guddy Schrimel and Joseph, who was given the last name Kulzer.
In 1884, the Kulzers purchased land in Section 8 of Spring Hill Township, where the Kulzer family farm is still located. Some of this land was sold to their son Mike and Mary (Sand) Kulzer in 1892. Mike and Mary sold 170 acres to their son, Jack and wife Clara Kulzer, who are Ken's parents. In 1937, they built the first barn, followed by a house in 1938.
Jack and Clara sold the farm to son Ken and wife Dorine and during their time on the farm, it became a century farm in 1984.
In 1995, Mike and Julie took over the farm.
Jack and Clara Kulzer era
It's like Ken, now 73, can still smell the bacon his mother fried on the cook stove when he described playing outside as a five- or six-year-old and his mother would yell that breakfast was ready. On that cook stove was a reservoir that held water carried in each day from outside. It would heat up and that was used to wash dishes and other water-related chores.
With little heat upstairs in the winter, Ken said he would come downstairs to dress by the cook stove where it was warm.
Ken and his three siblings, Doris, Betty and Karen walked the 1/2 mile to the country school and back home every weekday, where they had farm chores to do.
He talked about the 12 cows his dad milked. The milk was stored in milk cans and cooled in a water tank.
"Dad hauled the milk to the Greenwald Creamery," said Ken.
They also raised chickens and hogs.
"Years ago everybody had chickens. They helped pay for the food on the table," said Ken.
Hogs were housed in boxcars, purchased from the railroad for about $400 each.
"We also used it for a granary," said Ken.
They did field work with workhorses.
"I did everything with horses, raked the hay, cultivated the corn," he said.
Vividly, he recalls one time when he had the horses hitched up to a wagon box in the field when all of a sudden the horses decided it was time to go home and he couldn't get them to stop.
"I said ho, ho, but they didn't listen," said Ken, with Dorine adding, "Maybe you said 'go, go, go.'"
The horses took a corner too short and took out a post.
"And they stopped right in front of the barn door," said Ken.
His dad bought his first tractor, a Farmall H in 1941.
"He traded in two horses for a tractor," said Ken.
That was the start of what would continue to be a farm with International machinery.
Growing up with workhorses, Ken said he never envisioned there would be a day, like today, when a person could sit on a tractor on one end of a field and they wouldn't have to steer the tractor to get to the other end; all thanks to a GPS system on the tractor.
"You did that with horses too," said Mike.
Ken and Dorine Kulzer era
Jack and Clara moved to Greenwald in 1963, after Ken married Dorine Hinnenkamp, a farm girl from north of Melrose, and they moved to the Kulzer farm.
"I remember Jack saying it was easier for us young people to run after the cattle if they got out," said Dorine, smiling.
They raised eight children on the farm--Sharon (John) Wilson of Sartell, Kevin of Sauk Rapids, Michael (Julie) on the farm, Steven (Cindy) of Buffalo, Brian (Jenny) of Alexandria, Marvin (Vicki) of Nelson, Sheila (Roylie) Fischer of Alexandria and Brenda (Brian) Flaten) of Alexandria.
Ken smiles when asked about marrying a farm girl, 50 years ago on June 4, 1963.
"At least she knew the difference between hay and straw," he said.
She also knew how to milk cows, even by hand, if need be.
"Mom always had five cows that had to be milked by hand," she said.
The Kulzers milked 33 cows, at first using a Rite-A-Way milking system, later switching to Surge, while also raising chickens and hogs.
"You had to use a strap that you put over the cow and then hang a bucket on it," said Ken.
Each of their five boys helped with chores.
"When the boys got older they helped wash the cows and dip the cows," said Dorine. "And every day before school Michael's job was to clean the barn."
They installed a pipeline milking system in 1973, after Ken had surgery. They added on to the barn in 1975, just about doubling the length, increasing their milking herd to 50.
"In 1976 it was so dry and we wondered how we'd pay for the loan," said Ken.
But the "Good Lord willing," they made it through that and other challenging farming times.
Dorine remembers one night when there was a tornado sighting, and Ken figured he better close the barn door in the haymow.
"The wind was so strong I had a hard time holding onto the door, so I left it go or I figured I might go with it," said Ken.
Mike and Julie Kulzer era
Mike had always shown an interest in farming, while his siblings went to college and found jobs off the farm. He helped neighboring farmers when he was still in high school, often leaving at 4 a.m. to milk cows and heading to another farm after school.
He married Julie Olson, from Osakis, in December of 1994. Recently, Julie celebrated her 20th year of working at Independent Community Bankers of America in Sauk Centre.
When asked how the two met, Julie quickly says "We Fest," but really she had met one of his brothers before this. She smiles when saying, "then I met another brother, and another brother, and another brother and one more."
They moved to the 200-acre farm in December of 1995; Ken and Dorine happy that the farm would keep the Kulzer name.
"I thought, 'Let's make room for the next generation,'" said Ken.
Mike and Julie like the idea of their family growing up on the farm, learning the same work ethic Mike did and also being able to watch things grow-including rocks.
"It's fun picking rocks," said Dorine, as they all laugh, her included.
"I just can't figure out how come some people have such big rocks and some don't have any at all," said Ken.
"You're gonna have to ask the Lord," said Dorine.
In 2004 Mike and Julie remodeled the house and in 2006 installed a parlor system in the barn, allowing them to increase their milking herd, currently at 85 cows, with an estimated 200 head of cattle on the farm.
"It's much easier on the knees and hips," said Mike, who is 46, and does most of the milking starting at 5 a.m. most mornings and around 5:30 each night.
Ken helped out on the farm until three years ago when dealing with a health issue. Rachael took over his calf feeding job.
"We told her she had to feed calves for a year before she got a horse," said Mike.
She got her horse.
Lauren puts straw by the calves each day.
Josh, who just turned 13 last week, has shown an interest in one day taking over the farm.
That makes his parents and grandparents happy and proud.
The Kulzer name will be carried on, for another generation, in this farm family.
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