Colorful history weaves farm together

Youngs continue career for 155 years

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HOLDINGFORD, Minn. — Kevin Young can list the date when each building on his farm was built.

“It’s a great feeling knowing all this history,” Young said. “Knowing that my ancestors have walked the same paths and raised their family where I walked and raised my family makes me appreciate what they did to help make this farm what it is today.”

Along with having a dairy farm in the heart of Stearns County for 155 years comes a colorful history with tales of homesteading, the Prohibition, the Great Depression and the farm crisis of the 1980s. 

Young and his wife, Beth, milk 62 cows in a tiestall barn that was built in 1933 at Arban Farm near Holdingford. The original barn was a 34- by 60-foot barn built by Edward Young during the Great Depression.

 “There was no running water then and that barn was closer to the creek than the old barn, so the cows could go outside every day and get water,” Young said. “He built it for $700, and the banker told him he was nuts.”

The barn was eventually expanded so more cows could be milked. Running water was installed along with a pipeline. Then, in 1988, Young and his dad, Jerome, put in an automatic feeding system.

The system, which is used today, is a series of elevators that bring silage, haylage and high-moisture corn from three silos to a conveyor belt that hovers above the mangers on each side of the tiestall barn.

“I don’t have a (total mixed ration), but my cows are fed a mixed ration from my silos,” Young said. “I feed my cows with the flip of a few switches. Then, I just top dress a protein mix.”

The Youngs also finish their steers and raise their replacements. They farm 350 acres of corn and alfalfa, with an occasional rotation of soybeans.

Assisting on the farm as needed are the Youngs’ daughters, Samantha and Katie. Young’s brother helps during harvest as well.

Young has only ever known dairy farming, as he joined the farm after completing high school.

“I never minded the work,” Young said. “When I was in second grade, I got chicken pox and had to stay home for two weeks. Dad made me help with milking every morning and evening since then.”

Young can trace his family’s lineage to when Franz Young and his family made their way from Germany to Holdingford.

Franz homesteaded 160 acres in 1869. At one point, 20 acres near the growing settlement of Arban were donated for the construction of a church that was named Arban Church. According to the Youngs, Arban is attributed to Pope Urban VIII. However, because the German “U” is pronounced similarly to the English “A,” the name was changed to Arban.

The farm has been passed through four generations of sons, from Franz to Joseph to Edward and to Jerome.

“Dad and I focused on cow health and getting good components,” Young said. “We don’t have any new fancy tractors, but we get just as good corn as the guys that do.”

Once Young began farming full time with his dad, they officially named the farm Arban Farm as recognition of the church their ancestor helped establish.

The original church had to be torn down so a bigger church could be built to accommodate a growing population. Soon after, a tornado damaged the church and another new church was built on the ground near the Youngs’ farm. That church, built in 1904, has since been relocated to the Stearns County Pioneer Club, which hosts the annual Albany Pioneer Days Threshing Show.

The house in which Young raised his family and continues to live was built in 1947 by his grandfather after the original house burned down.

“Growing up, whenever it would rain, we would walk around outside and find all sorts of old nails, cups, plates, you name it, from that old house,” Young said. “When the new house was built, there was no electricity, but Grandpa knew it was coming to the area so he had the house wired right away.”

The Youngs have since added on to the house. However, the main part of the house is original to match the rich history of their farm.

Samantha has expressed interest in taking over the farm someday. Until then, Young will keep doing what he does best — farming.

“I like that I can pick and choose what I get to do each day,” Young said. “I am outside and am not doing the same thing every single day.”

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