Farmer’s Interviews at Bank of Evansville
December 15, 2010
Transcribed by Ruth Ann Montgomery Photograph of Participants
Participants: John Ehle, David S. Fellows, Gordon Andrew, Joe Bradley, Robin Patterson, Robin Patterson, Jr.,
Norman Patterson, Donald Maas, Alvin Francis, Richard Templeton, Jud Spooner, Mel Janes, Mel Shotliff, David
Rhoda, Howard Krueger, Janis Ringhand, Ruth Ann Montgomery, Gina Duwe and Kyle Geisler, Janesville Gazette
Thanks to the Bank of Evansville for hosting the event; the Evansville FFA Alumni for providing lunch from Rock &
Rollz; and the Janesville Gazette and WCLO for reporting and recording the event.
John Ehle: Welcome. We’ll give each of you an opportunity to say hello and talk a little bit about your history in the
area. This is all about story telling. We’ve got the right people in the room for storytelling. I think Ruth Ann wrote in
the first book she published about Evansville, “To John, keep telling the stories.” That’s what it’s all about. If you
don’t tell them, they don’t get down. If they don’t get down, they don’t get repeated. It’s important to get down the
stories of Evansville. Thanks for coming.
Dave Fellows: I second that statement. Thanks for coming everyone. I’m looking forward to a really interesting
and probably, at moments, a hilarious event in all of our lives. My own background at Rainbow Prairie Farms, it
goes back almost 155 years. It’s been named different things over the years. I think every one of my grandfathers
named it something different. Beginning with Percheron horses and then my grandfather called it Cherry Grove
Stock Farm. I always wondered about that. Why would it be called Cherry Grove Stock Farm? Well, there was one
little patch of black cherry on the back edge of the farm and I’m pretty sure that’s where the name derived from.
Then it became Homestead Farm Turkeys. There is a picture over here on the window sill of my Dad feeding
turkeys at about Thanksgiving or Christmas time. They had a crazy little game that they played with each other.
My Dad just really enjoyed raising turkeys for 15 years and he’s in the field feeding them; tossing corn out to them, I
think. And he whistles and as he whistles they all raise their head and shut up. They don’t say a word until he
stops whistling. Then he’d stop suddenly and they’d go off in a unified gobble, gobble, gobble and it was just
hilarious. This is with full grown turkeys. He just knew how to play them like an orchestra and I used to enjoy
watching him do that. So Rainbow Prairie Farms is just one of many of the old farms in the area. I’m happy to say
it is still in existence and now Steve and Wyatt are running it. I’m a great-grandfather five times over now. I think I’
m too old to continue speaking anymore, unless somebody has a question. I’ll butt in at some point down the line.
John Ehle: I have the good fortune of having three relatives in the room. It’s kind of stacked on the Patterson side.
My uncle Robin, and my cousin, Norman and my cousin, Robin. I guess the Patterson family is well represented.
We also have two retired local veterinarians, Dr. Howard Krueger and Dr. Dave Rhoda. Gordie, I’m going to put
the onus on you. How would you like to start out telling a little bit about yourself and we’ll just go around the room
and give people an opportunity to tell their story. If you get off on an interesting one, go right ahead. We’ve got
more time than money.
Gordon Andrew: A little bit about myself, I guess; born and raised in Magnolia township. The family…I brought the
deed from the government on one piece from 1847, at $1.25 an acre. Our family has been there forever.
Memories? I guess our family is Andrew but we are related to the George’s and the 4-H has always been a big part
of our family. My uncles and aunts all showed at the fair, in the early days of the Rock County Fair. Rock County
Fair nationwide has so much history, as a 4-H fair, not an open class fair. They showed beef cattle, sheep and
swine and all the crafting things as well. There is some really good stories of beef showing and taking the train to
Omaha and various shows. My Mom was a George and my Dad was Russell. Wilbur and Iva Andrew are my
grandparents. They homesteaded the farm that I mentioned earlier. Storywise? That’s a little history. We’ll get
into stories as time passes.
Joe Bradley: Our family moved here from, basically, the Racine area, where the homestead is. In 1949, is when we
came to Evansville, out on Tuttle Road. The farm was known as Ardlin Farms when we were operating it. That
came from my mother’s name of Ardith and my father’s name, Franklin. So that’s where that came from. I still use
that name for an awful lot of things, even in my business. E-mails and things go out with that prefix on it. Dairy
operation, cash grain operation, early in our career, in Dad’s career and my career, we had hogs until erysipelas
decided they weren’t going to have hogs. That went by the wayside.
John Ehle: What was that word you just used?
Joe Bradley: What? erysipelas? It was a swine disease. Ask these folks about it (indicates veterinarians) and it
was devastating. There weren’t any vaccinations at the time to deal much with it. There are a lot of stories about
the pigs that we had out at the farm. We showed pigs at the county fair. We showed sheep at the fair and I used
sheep to put myself through college. Or Dad and I ended up using the money from the sheep from my high school
project. I remember an older gentleman, who has been gone a long time ago, Lloyd Hubbard, who lived west of
town. He told me that I could get a 100 Western ewes delivered to Evansville, off of a train, for $7 apiece. They
came and they got put on the truck and brought out to the farm. I remember my father looked at those sheep as
they were coming off the truck and thought “What are we into this time. “ They were spitting teeth. They were
skinny. They were pretty rough looking animals but they had the ability to raise a pair of twin lambs that were just
beautiful. We were in the sheep business and I was in the sheep business all the way through high school and for
two years in college. Then we had weather like it is today. Dad’s out there in January and I’m over in Platteville,
having a good old time. Dad’s back there in January, lambing out 100 ewe, maybe 120 ewes by that time. It was
January at 20-below zero. He said, “that’s enough of this” and shortly thereafter the sheep left and he called and
told me they were gone. We sold the farm in, 1982, is when I think we sold the farm. We were involved with
another historic thing that happed in Evansville. They called that one Benny Green. So, Robin, your turn.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: OK. I think I’ll let the other side of the table handle our family history and family farm. The
family farms actually started in 1868. I’d like to bring a little different perspective to this, rather than the family farm,
would be the family co-op started in 1935. There are a lot of former board members here. In fact, probably about
half the group here today has been on the board or worked at the co-op at one time or another. From that
perspective, seeing as the farm is covered over on the other side of the table, like I said, it was started in 1935 by a
group of people from Evansville and Brooklyn that got together. They sold 234 shares at $10 apiece and got
$2,300 and they needed another $1,000 to start the business. Our great uncle, Marvin Patterson, loaned them
another $1,000 and that’s how the Co-op was started. It started in petroleum and from that point on they picked up
Orfordville, which was around for awhile. Then, over the years, it’s grown from a $20,000 a year business to $350
million dollars a year ago. So, as we go into the discussion here and that later, if you have any question or
anything about the history. As we want to talk about anything from grain, to feed, to how the agronomy has
changed over the years, I’ll be happy to answer any questions. So, I’ll play a dual role here, whether it is with
farming or from the other aspect of supplying product and how we’ve handled that over the years and how that’s
changed over the years in the Evansville community. Rich.
Richard Templeton: My family came, the Templeton side of my family came from Scotland, in the very early
1900s. I’m on that home farm now. I bought that from my mother in 1980. My dad passed away in 1967, so I’ve
been managing it for quite some time. I bought my first farm in 1965 or along in there. It was the Williams farm right
by the tracks on Butts Corners Road. I acquired the one up the road which belonged to Earl’s nephew, Morris.
We’ve grown from that. My grandfather was big in horses, very big in the horse business. As a matter of fact, I
have a business card of his that had sheep, horses, cows and pigs. He had registered stock and showed horses all
over the country at the International in Chicago and judged horse shows. Matter of fact, he judged, I think, the
Percheron show at the International Livestock Show. I don’t think my dad ever got enough credit for the things he
done. He was the guy that was the one to stay home and helped his mother with the farm. He had two younger
brothers that showed the sheep and the pigs. They were well known. Our operation has grown. I have twin sons
that are 41 years old now that do the work and make the decisions, which lightens the load for me. On my mother’s
side, her parents were Kenneth and Elsie Gilbertson. Kenneth served on the Town Board for I think, 20-plus years
and farmed out on Highway 59 right next to the George brothers. Growing up, my dad was good friends with the
Robinson family. I can remember loading cattle, probably the last time that they went on the road with show cattle.
They were hauled into Evansville and put in a box car. I helped load those cattle. Phil was quite the showman and I’
m sure Harold was too. I know Phil done the traveling with the cattle. I could go on for hours, but I’ll pass.
Don Maas. I’m Donald Maas. Just to continue on what Richard said. I think maybe our mothers didn’t get as much
credit that they should have. They worked very hard. They were raised that way and continued most of their lives.
My great-grandfather came from Germany. The story was he escaped in the middle of the night. I think there was
at lot of European persecution back then. Came to the Blanchardville area and then his family grew up over
around Belleville and Blanchardville. My grandfather met my grandmother when they working at the Dane County
Farm. Started farming there a little bit but then moved down around the Beloit area kind of where the Funk farm is
now. Close to where Hodges are. I remember going down and visiting a very elderly lady, Mrs. Hodge. Dad and I
went down and visited her one Sunday. Apparently, Grandpa decided he should move up into this area where
Ralph and Paul farmed all their lives. Dad was just a little boy. He was born, I think in Janesville, and moved up
here when he was about four years old. Supposedly grandpa could buy land up here, which he considered better
land, for half the value of what he sold down there, just between Beloit and Janesville. I think that in those days
there were fences the entire way. I think they drove the cattle up to the Janesville stockyards, what is now the Back
of the Yards Bar, I think that all of you remember that as the stockyards. They kept the cattle there overnight and
then they drove the cattle up to where Paul lives now. My mother came from around, just this side of Attica. She
taught school for 15 years. It was common then that when you got married that you were supposed to give up your
job. It was supposed to go to the single women and the women were supposed to stay home and help on the farm,
I think. She was a school teacher at a couple of different places, mostly west of town here, including around 12
years at the Krause school, where the Patterson family attended most of the time. She taught John’s mother, who
was one of her students, who was also Robin’s sister. And, well anyway, after they got married and moved here
west of town, Dad farmed there for all their married life. Then, he and Mom both died right there in the house within
the last five years. I rented out the farm just this year. I’ll wait for some more questions, I guess.
Jud Spooner: My name is Jud Spooner. I’m two miles up the road, born and raised, on the family farm. My
grandparents bought the farm in the teens. So I have a few years to go before it will be a century farm, hopefully.
Just general farming was mentioned and folks coming from where ever. My dad’s people were pretty much
homegrown. My Dad’s mother, some of her people came from Scotland. When they came here, they came through
east of Janesville, some of that pitiful flat black ground. I still haven’t forgiven them for that, but we make due. I‘ve
farmed there ever since I got married. General farming, I guess you’d call it. We’ve rented the farm out now and
enjoying the retired life. I’ll wait for some more.
Howard Krueger: I’m Howard Krueger. I haven’t enjoyed the rich heritage that all the previous people have had of
being born here. I came to Evansville in 1958. In listening to Rich, he’s telling about his grandfather being big in
horses. When I came to Evansville in 1958, I can only remember two farmers who still had a team of horses.
Farming in those days was very diversified, as Joe indicated. There were sheep, pigs, a few horses, very few
saddle horses, at that time, it was right after the war; dairy cows, chickens, every farmer had some chickens. As
the years went on the diversification started to leave us. The chickens went first, then probably then the sheep
went; then feeder cattle; and then the hogs and now, presently, we are big in the dairy industry and the horses
have come back quite a little. So there is quite a transition. The story I think of when Joe was talking about being
put out of the swine business by erysipelas. I remember one farmer just outside of Evansville here that had just
bought a new Pontiac. He got hog cholera into his hogs. I went out there one morning. He said the rendering
company had just left and taken away whole new Pontiac load of dead hogs. That put him out of the hog business
real quick. As all of you are aware, that’s the risk of farming. It’s something that you’ve lived with all your life. The
other thing I’m reminded of yesterday, I drove out west of Evansville on County Trunk C. I’ve never seen such big
snow drifts out there. Every one of those that I drove past reminded me of a “get stuck” drift. I’ve seen a few of
those over the years. Some of you have pulled Dave and I out of them. I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much snow
as is piled up in one spot, as there is on County Trunk C between Evansville and the County Line now. I’ll pass
this on to Dave and maybe he can relate a few more stories.
David Rhoda. Yes, I’ve got a few more. I’m David Rhoda. Howard hired me in 1969, when I came out of the
Army, to work at the clinic. His brother Ed, who is no longer with us; it was Ed and Howard and Rollie that were
working there at the time. The thing I really want to relate to you, one of the things that has been very traditional
with agriculture has always been the families that are behind it. When we start talking about stories, I have several
families that I worked for four generations of the same family. So, most everybody that is in this room, I’ve worked
for two, generations on either side of you, for the most part. So, I think the family tradition in agriculture has been
one of the major things. A lot of changes have happened because of technology. We talked about a couple of
diseases that were disastrous. One of the things that I’ve always noticed is that whenever we had storms and
things like that, everyone came together. I would talk about when the Patterson barn that went down on their cows
in one of the tornadoes. We literally sawed out that herd of cows to get them back out. A lot of people have
worked together, through a lot of years.
John Ehle: One of the things I thought about. Agriculture, farming in particular, is something is that starts the day
you walk out of the house and into the barn. As opposed to people, like myself, who went off to the University and
became a teacher. You by definition are a farmer from day one. I looked at the 14 or so people here and I figured
up the accumulated experience. There’s close to a 1,000 years of experience here and that’s just the farmers.
That’s very interesting to me, because it means constant growth, constant change, and constant adjustment, not
only to the gambling side of it, but the scientific side of it.
Dave Fellows; I’d like to say something more about the veterinarians of this area, over the years. I’m so grateful
that both Drs. Howard Krueger and David Rhoda could be with us today. I don’t know where a lot of us would be if it
weren’t for them. Back in the 1930s, one of my dad’s enterprises was pigs. It was very common in those days. A
lot more common than it is today. In 1938, I think Dr. Schuster’s name was Rudy, wasn’t it? And Dr. Schuster came
out one day when my dad called him because the pigs were dying and proclaimed that they had contracted cholera
somewhere. Dr. Rudy said, “Earl you are just going to have to give up hog raising, at least for 20 years. It’s going
to take that much time for the soil around here to rid itself of the causative organisms.” Well Dad was pretty
crushed by it because swine was one of his favorite enterprises. We only milked 22 cows at the time. He had
some beef cattle, short horns, and he fattened up some spring lambs, Western lambs, every year. He didn’t know
what to turn to. He had to have every bit of diversification he could get. I think it was Rudy that said, “have you
ever thought about raising turkeys?” Dad thought he was a little wacko at the time to suggest that. But he said
“Go see Howard Inman down in Beloit. He raises turkeys and he’s a good one to tutor you along the way.” So that’
s what Dad did. That’s how he got into the turkey business. He was raising Homestead Farm turkeys. I was
ushered onto the stage of life. I was born in 1932, so by ’38 I was some help, chore help, with the turkeys. It really
turned out to be a great thing for my folks. It was a very profitable enterprise. So profitable that they were able to
send me and my two sisters to college and that was not that common in the Great Depression and the 1940s, the
first years of the war years. Veterinarians are good.
Alvin Francis: I’m Alvin Francis. I live west of Evansville on Highway C. I’ve only been there since 1951. I came
there in 1951 from five miles further west in Green County. I looked at the program today. It looked like I had two
first cousins on my Mothers’ side and one on my Dad’s side on the program. I see that only two of the three are
here. Quite a bit of family relations involved. There was quite a bit of talk about raising pigs. I had run across the
income tax my parents had filed in the 1940s. I actually had the one from the year my brother was born in 1944. I
was looking that over, their state and federal income tax. It listed their farm income. Actually, I was surprised they
were doing the tax accounting on the accrual basis. It listed the cattle and the income from them. I figured the
hog income was quite a bit higher than the dairy income. I recall, it was around $5,700 in hog sales and $4,700 or
so, in dairy sales, sold two or three sheep, $100 of poultry, and I think $400 worth of cattle. I think that tendency
for the hogs to be a pretty large part of the income stayed up until late into the 40s, maybe around the early 50s.
The interesting thing I ran across in there was that the profit they were showing is higher than what we get now on
our gross sales. They were paying tax on 30% of their gross sales. I think it’s more common now to be around
maybe 5%, if you are lucky. The tax rate was fairly high. They paid about 10-11% federal tax and 1% or 1.5 %
state tax. They didn’t have it on that sheet, but another one. The property tax would have included the personal
property, which would tell you how much livestock they had, which was taxed in those days. The property tax was
probably similar to the state tax in the cost. That covered the local government, mainly the local school cost. Their
inventory at that time was about 5 horses, 23 cows. I recall it was about 20 brood sows, or something like that,
quite a few; three or 4 sheep and 100 chickens or so, I think. That got me to thinking about a story related to the
dairy not increasing a great deal until the ‘50s. Part of it might have related to the transportation to haul the milk.
In the winter time, I think it was in the ‘40s, before they started to regulate that the roads get plowed out. That and
the seasonality probably of the feed for cattle, for raising dairy. I had a story I recalled, when I was about nine
years old, of a day in the winter, going to Sunday school at the Methodist church in Evansville. My mother was a
teacher. She and my brother, my younger brother is 2 ½ years younger, had gone to Sunday school and we were
going home. It was icy. Everything was pretty icy. Plus the time we were there, I suppose we were going home
about 10:30 in the morning. It had rained a little bit and it was really bad. We made it west on C. We got down to
the two humps past the Patterson’s, then around that curve that used to be on C, where George Lange lived. We
got up to the intersection of E, Russell s Corner there, and C. It was a lot steeper than it is now. We just got
started away from that and there was this milk truck, this can truck, up at the top of the hill. It wasn’t quite making
it. He had chains on one side and not the other. Pretty soon, he starts coming back down. We had our ’49 Ford,
just started up. He slid right down and the box flipped off the hood ornament and pushed us back down to the
intersection. Nobody got hurt. There was a lot of complaints later on, about driving the milk truck around with one
chain on. I was hoping he was here. I think the truck driver, of the can truck, was Corvin Neuenswander.
Dave Fellows: What was that?
Alvin Francis: The truck that slid down was a milk truck, a can truck, an early truck. It was probably the winter of
‘50-‘51. It could have been ’49 or ‘50. The truck didn’t make the hill. He slid back down on the ice. I think it was
Corvin. It was a Neuenswander, I know. I wanted to verify it was him. They would have been picking up milk. We
had a cooler. It was an International ice tank cooler for the cans. I don’t know if he had the whey attachment on it,
but a lot of the can trucks had a whey attachment for delivering whey to feed pigs. You could take that if you
David Fellows: Corvin did you say was driving it?
Alvin Frances: I’ve always thought it was him.
David Fellows: Corvin is in Arizona this week. I called him about coming and he said “I’m going to be in Arizona that
Mel Janes: He used to haul milk.
Alvin Francis: The other connection with the car I said was, I was always really interested in anything mechanical,
cars, machinery and everything. The Ford garage was located where Joe’s office is now. We used to go to
Sunday School and Don Thompson would be open on Sunday. We had to go over there and we’d have to go look
at cars. We ended up with a ’49, ‘53 and ‘57 Ford, I think.
Norm Patterson: My name’s Norm Patterson. I’m the one Patterson that stayed home on the farm out of five
brothers. I’m not going to go into the deep history. I’ll let Dad do that. I think what I’ll do is talk a little bit about
growing up on the farm and the experiences; and the things we went through growing up. But first I want to say
something that Dave said that struck me, when he said: “when I worked for you farmers” and we saw that as
farmers. They worked for us. That’s how they approached their job. That’s what made us successful. They
weren’t out there to make a buck and go home and go to sleep at night. They worked for us and they worked for us
all hours of the day, seven days a week. I just wanted to mention that. Growing up on the farm, six boys, real
interesting. A few arguments here and there: “Well, you fed two more cows than I fed. Or I fed two more than you
fed, or you know, whose turn is it to do this.” It was always a challenge. I don’t know how our parents dealt with it
sometimes. My mother is from Stoughton. She is a full-blooded Norwegian. If Dad starts telling Norwegian jokes,
you might have to cut him off after awhile. He says “I’m not prejudiced. I married one.” But it was great growing up
on a farm. I can’t think of a better away to grow up. Getting together in the neighbors’ barns to play basketball.
You know, just the things that happened as a kid growing up. Mother driving us back and forth to school functions
and church stuff. I think if that blue Catalina station wagon threw a nickel out at Alvin’s every time it went by his
house, he’d probably be sitting here a millionaire. Then when we started getting our own cars as we grew up, then
there was more. He could probably have been kept busy watching Pattersons vehicles going into town every day.
The tornado that Dave touched on. I’ve got to admit, when I first heard about this and John putting this together, I
thought, “I’m not sure about this. You get a bunch of independent farms in one room.” We’re all a little bit different
and our businesses are different. In the end, we’re all farmers. We all deal with nature every day, whether it be
the weather or cattle. So we have a common bond that way. Anyway, back to the tornado in 1990, is a good
example. We all have stories about this kind of thing. When it happened and the barn went down, neighbors
showed up out of nowhere. People just came and helped. Yes, we did have to cut the hay mow floor to get the
cattle out of the barn. We had to move all the hay first. It was quite a project. People showed up for three days. I
ran into another neighbor a couple weeks later, Phil Golz. I wish he could have been here. He’s not here. He
apologized for not coming over to help. Well, they had part of our barn roof went through their house. It just kind
struck me. Phil said, “Gee, I’m sorry I didn’t get over there. “ Come on, he’s dealing with his own stuff. But that’s
how the farming community works together. We were dairy up until three years ago, three and a half years ago,
our farm was dairy. I’m not sure that we really know how many years in a row cows were milked on that farm every
day. We tried to figure that out once. We don’t really know when it started. We know, unfortunately, when it had to
end. There was cows milked on that farm for a lot of years. 1868 was when it came into the family. I’ll let Dad
touch on that. One thing he may not mention, that some of you may or may not know, is that Dad was born in the
house that he lives in. He was born right in the house and he’s still living there.
Robin Patterson, Jr: There was six boys growing up on the farm and there were our city cousins who would come
out. This would have been the beginning of maybe Mike Rowe’s career, Dirty Jobs. John used to come out and we
used to save special details for him. Which pen is the deepest?
Norman Patterson: John always went back to town.
John Ehle: My boots weren’t high enough. It did get pretty deep out there.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: I guess at this point, I’m the patriarch of the family. As Norm mentioned, I still live in the
house that I was born in. The farm is a Century Farm, since 1868. I have heard rumors, that way back then, when
every farm had a name, they called it Alf Acre Farms. I guess after, well, Alf. The names have changed, of course.
Now it is just the Patterson Farms. I bought it from my Dad in 1967 and proceeded to revamp the dairy part of it.
We put in a milking parlor. One of the first west of town, I guess, which I bought Just east of town here, off a farmer
that passed away. My mother died when I was five years old, in 1935 and I have very little memory of her. I don’t
know why. Maybe it was the good Lord just cutting me off from bad memories. Anyway, I do remember my brother
saying that she said: “This is going to be my last baby.’ I had two older sisters. ‘This one is for you girls so that
you know how to take care of your children. ” One of them would have been John’s mother. My Dad remarried a
couple years later and I had a half brother and half sister. All of my family were born in the house that I live in yet,
when they had a midwife instead of a doctor. I guess it turned out that way, that she did have her last baby so that
my older sisters would know how to take care of their own. John’s mother was always our post to lean on. She was
a great lady and a great sister. So well, we’ll move on a little here. I think my oldest son learned to drive tractor
when he was six or seven, somewhere in there, and he spent quite a few years running that too. Norm kind of took
over the dairy herd when I got tired and retired. It was a sad day when the cows went. There had been cows there
all of my life. As a matter of fact, one of our jobs was to go and get the cows, when we were kids. We had one old
cow. Her name was Daisy. She’d always be the last one to get up and I’d run and jump on her back and ride her
back to the barn. When I was going to Krause school, where Donny’s mother taught and was my teacher, that was
up by that little German church, west of us there, which has since been retired. All there was, was a funeral there a
couple of weeks ago. Not there, the burial was there, in the little cemetery that was behind our school house. Well,
from there on, I guess one of the ways that we kept our kids in line, when they were young, was if they got to
fighting too much, we’d tell them, “Well, I think the calf pens need cleaning.” We’d send them out to clean the calf
pens. They’d usually come in covered, from throwing manure at each other, instead of cleaning the pen, but Ma
lived with that. Like one of the boys mentioned, my wife was a full blooded Norwegian and reminds me of it almost
daily. She’s proud of her heritage and she is real deep into keeping up the family history. She is into genealogy,
clear up to her chin. Which I guess it is a good thing.
Norm Patterson: When she goes off doing that, she’ll go somewhere, and Dad will say: “Ah, she’s off chasing
Robin Patterson, Sr.: The farm was a good place to raise our family. Howard’s nephew was one of my first hired
boys on the farm, Eddy, and he was a good boy. We went through several when I first started farming, and my kids
weren’t big enough to do things. Several boys from Evansville helped me out on the farm. Well, I guess, going
back to the Rock County Fair, you know that started in Evansville? I can barely remember. Do you know what year
they moved to in Janesville? It was R. T. Glassco and J. R. Craig that got the fair going in Janesville. I can
remember the harness racing they had down here. Then they went to Janesville. I guess that’s about all I’ve got
for now. There’s a lot of old memories, I’ll tell you. Like I mentioned, the Evansville veterinarians were very involved
in it. Now I’ll pass it on here.
Rich Templeton: Before you start Mel. You brought up the school and the church out there, the German church
they called it. On my mother’s side the family, the farm just to the east of the school and the church, that was where
my great-grandmother lived. Their name was Kutzke. That was my mother’s grandparents.
Robin Patterson, Sr.. I remember the Kutzke’s. They had a sand and gravel business up by Brooklyn.
Rich Tempelton: That was a brother, I believe. Charlie was out there. That was a brother.
Gordon Andrew: Robin, I have a program from the 25th Rock County Fair, so I believe it started in 1930 in
Robin Patterson, Sr.: That was the year I was born. I remember R. T. Glassco and J. R. Craig were the ones.
Glassco was the County Agent at the time and J. R. Craig was a big friend his and owned the property where the
fairgrounds is today. One of the stipulations was there was there would never be alcoholic beverages on the
fairgrounds and there isn’t yet today.
John Ehle: I’d like to add a few comments while we were on the Pattersons. My first recollection of going out to the
farm, I was four or five years old and went out with my great-grandfather Will. We’d get in his old Ford sedan that
had the itchy seats. We’d drive out to the farm. I don’t know how he drove that vehicle because he had a wooden
Robin Patterson, Sr.: I can explain that. He went to Lester Thompson and he put a metal thing underneath the
brake pedal so that when he pushed the brake, it disengaged the clutch.
John Ehle: I guess I didn’t give it enough thought. Anyway, we’d go out to the farm. Several people have
mentioned how individual farming is, and yet the spirit of cooperation is pervasive. That first trip out, I can
remember going down behind the barn and there was a field back there. There was a big threshing machine set up
and I believe it was at that time when there were five farmers in the neighborhood who would move from farm to
farm and take care of that on a cooperative basis. That was quite an eye opener because horses were involved.
Just being out with Great-grandpa was a big deal, anyway. I still remember going up into the yard at noon. I don’t
think I had ever seen so much food in one place in my life. Not only that, I never saw so much food disappear so
fast in my life either. So, it was really quite an event. I don’t know who else was in that group.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Walter George was one of them. I think Art Lange, who lived west of us, and Shuddas
probably, on our second farm now. We didn’t get as far as the Maas’ or the Francis’. There was another crew out
there. That was the Templeton crew wasn’t it? Getting back to this threshing ordeal. That was interesting. I had
another city cousin who came out to help us when we were threshing north of Evansville on the old Hubbard farm,
which belonged to my grandfather. He was, of course, a city boy. They put him on a bundle wagon, with a team of
horses, to go out and load bundles and haul them in to the machine. He came in at noon and, of course,
everybody else just tied their horses to a post or something and went to eat. He didn’t bother to tie his horses.
Well, during the noon hour, the horses decided to go for a walk. My grandfather had about 50 to 80 colonies of
bees lined up, under the trees next to where we had the thresher set. The horses proceeded to make a circle
around, right down between the beehives and dumped the whole works. Needless to say we were done for the
day. The team of horses made it out through a pair of gates, and back out into the field, with the bees after them.
It ended the threshing for that day. I don’t think my cousin was too popular with my grandfather after that. But, that’
s bygone days.
Mel Shotliff: I’m Mel Shotliff. I was born in Illinois. My Dad farmed down there. Me and my three brothers went to a
two-room school, kindergarten through sixth grade, down there. No bus, we got to walk to school every day. If
your pants were wet when you got to school, you got to hang them on the old boiler on the side to dry your pants
out, so you didn’t get pneumonia. I remember that. My Dad and his brothers run a custom baling business down
there with an old wire tie baler. I was glad Dad didn’t move it to Wisconsin, when we come. That’s all I know. I don’
t know if that’s how I got the itch to do the custom work or what, but I know they were the ones down there baling
hay for everybody. He had dairy and hogs down there. The last year before we moved up from Illinois, the fertilizer
company come out and unloaded all the bags of fertilizer on the haymow floor. It was a drive-on haymow floor and
the hogs were underneath and the floor collapsed and we were out of the hog business. So, when we moved to
Wisconsin, we just did the dairy. We didn’t bring the hogs with. We got up here and Dad was big in the NFO. I
brought a picture of him when they drove the cows to slaughter for that. He was in to the horse club. There used
to be a horse club here in Evansville. They had horse shows over here in the Red Barn parking lot and
everything. I remember them days. You mentioned the tornado in ’90, or whatever, but we had the tornado in, was
it ‘66, Jud?
Jud Spooner: Palm Sunday, ‘64.
Mel Shotliff: In ’64? [Note: the date of the tornado was Palm Sunday, 1965] It came through my dad’s place over
on Territorial Road, anyway. You want to talk about the community, of course all the neighbors all pitched in and
everything. What was really impressive was the Evansville football coach brought all of the high school football
players out. They worked out there a whole day and well into the night. They moved a lot of stuff and that was
really amazing. Then, once I got older and got into high school, John Hermanson’s barn caught on fire, a hay fire,
and the hay was smoldering in the barn. We thought we were going to get out of football practice and be really
easy. They loaded us all up and took us out to John’s and practice would have been a lot easier. The football
team forked hay, well into the night, out of John’s barn. That’s how, not just the farming neighbors come together,
but also your city people. They all come out and pitched in. It is a real fine rural community. Whenever there’s a
disaster, or whatever, everybody pitches in and they don’t expect to get any pay or nothing back. You know, it’s
just a good neighborly, a good community to be raised in. I started driving. Remember they used to have gas wars
in Janesville and 17 cents, you’d get to buy gas for. Heffel Chevrolet, down here in Evansville, you could buy a
brand new Chevy Nova for $3,000. Now that’s the taxes on a new vehicle. It’s just how the times have changed. It’
s pretty amazing. I started farming on my own in ‘74, with dairy. We got out of the dairy in ‘96. Backing up a little
bit, as far as the Evansville vets, I can remember Dave (Rhoda,) the first time he came out to my Dad’s place, right
after he was hired. We had a cow down with milk fever in the free stall. Of course she was wedged right up. And
Dad’s thinking, “Oh, Howard didn’t come out, we got the newbie here.”
Dave Rhoda: You always lobby to get the next one hired.
Mel Shotliff: It turned out fine and the cow got up and Dave was a fine addition to the community. And about in
that same time, I remember, Kenny Reese had yet to go to school and get added onto the Evansville vets. He was
out one day helping us mow hay. He crawled the ladder up into the haymow and proceeded to split the crouch of
his pants out. Well, he was kind of shy coming in for lunch with Ma and everything. Dad went and got another pair
of pants and he changed. Ma stitched up his pants. He stuck around for the rest of the afternoon haying. After he
left, then, and went to school, and I was on my own, he come out. He was kind of the main vet that I had then at my
place. He wasn’t just a vet. It was a personal relationship, and a teacher. Because, like anybody else, when you’
re eighteen years old, you think you know everything, and you realize when get on your own, away from your Dad’s
control, that you really don’t know shit. The Evansville vets, they weren’t just there treating. They were fine people,
there to help you out and give you advice and try to steer you in the right direction. They were a fine addition to
this community, that service they provided. I’ll never forget those days. As is, with the custom end of it, after we got
out of dairy, we’ve done work for the majority of the people in this room at one time or another and you build
friendships, relationships, and people you can count on. It’s a fine community to be raised in. I’m just proud and
lucky to have moved here and been associated with this community and see the growth in this community over the
years that I have been here. I’m very proud of it.
Dave Fellows: Mel you left me with a question, I just got to ask you. With the wet pants hanging over the furnace,
what were you running around the room in, long johns?
Mel Shotliff: No, they had a bunch of extra girls’ leotards or something. If the boys came in with their blue jeans
wet, they went on the boilers on the side. What to do they call them, radiators? The boys all hung their blue jeans
on them until they dried up. They had a basket of these leotards. You looked like a retard but you didn’t get sick.
Joe Bradley: You know, I can add to that vet story, when you talking about the newbie coming out. The newbie that
we had come out was my younger sister Kathy’s classmate, Kenny Reese. He comes out, he’s just been hired by
the vets. We had a cow with milk fever. Out comes Kenny, sticks the needle in the throat, or the vein, holds the
bottle up. The cow looks at him and drops dead. Just about that fast. And he’s talking about the weather and
these things happen, you know. So, ok, about three weeks later, we got another cow with milk fever and out comes
Kenny . He put the tube in the vein, holds the bottle up and the cow drops dead. We didn’t see Kenny for two
Donald Maas: I remember a similar story, over at Abey’s. I’m sure you know Faye Abey and she was well known for
being quite vocal. A cow dropped dead over there and I don’t know which vet it was. But I remember the story in
the neighborhood. Faye went just ballistic about this and went after whatever vet was there. Maybe it was Howard,
I don’t know who it was. And I remember also when you talked about the snow banks that Rollie (Jeans) ended up
spending one night with me. He was snowed in out there. I was just married. We didn’t have a much of any food
in the refrigerator and not a lot of furniture and I remember that I went out to the barn in the morning to milk and
Rollie had left really early. He was gone before I ever got back in the house.
Dave Rhoda: The storm that Rollie spent the night with you, none of the four of us got back to town that day.
None of us got home. I got home because I rode in on a snow plow but I didn’t get my vehicle home.
Howard Krueger: Talking about snow, I remember getting stuck on County Trunk A, right by Andrew’s farm. I went
up to the house and was talking to Russell. Pretty soon in comes the snow plow driver. He had run the plow into
the ditch. He had an assistant with him, so the four of us sat and played cards all morning. Bob Lawrenz had a cow
calving a mile south of there and he came and got me on a snowmobile to deliver that calf. There’s a lot of snow
stories and a lot of tornado stories to be told, just an awful lot. Another tornado story, while I am talking about it.
That Palm Sunday tornado out at Shotliff’s, it was an amazing thing. There was a cow walking around there. She
had an eight-foot two-by-four sticking through her side and it came out of her pelvis, right around the anus, and
that cow was walking around. The amazing things you see after the storms, is really something.
Mel Shotliff: That tornado, there was one hole in the roof of the barn. It sucked hay up through that hole in the
roof. There was a bale wedged underneath my Mom’s car, up by the house. You hear the stories of straw or hay
imbedded into a tree. We had that in the backyard. The house never got damaged except for one window pane.
Just a square little windowpane was broke out of the house. We had stuff from the Red Barn restaurant, was
inside our house. That had to come in through the window pane. That was really interesting. There was only that
one window pane broke out of the house. Mom and Dad drank coffee and had a sugar bowl on the kitchen table.
There wasn’t a grain or a sugar left in that bowl. The bowl was all there, everything was there, but the sugar was
completely gone. Tornados are amazing things. You talk about the simple things, of being raised and growing up
on a farm. After milking and chores at night, in the summer time, when it was warm, us four boys, we’d jump in the
back of Dad’s pickup truck and go to over Gibbs Lake and we’d cool off with a swim in Gibb’s Lake. Then we’d run
up to the root beer stand and we had a choice. We had two choices. We could either get a frosty mug root beer or
an ice cream cone. There was no deviating from that. We were just so happy just to get that and refreshed at the
end of the day. It meant a lot to us growing up on the farm.
Norm Patterson: I’ve got one more tornado story, while we are on that subject and it involves Dr. Reese. He was
out. This was the ‘90 tornado that hit us and it hit Golz’. Phil Golz and Dr. Reese were in the open shed, working
with some heifers, I believe, when that hit. They just kind of clung to the side of the shed and looked out at all of
this stuff going on. And two of Golz’ silos, from the level of the sileage up, the staves just crumbled and came
apart. They stood there and watched some of those staves, which weigh, what 20 pounds, probably, go up and
down, like this, before they finally fell to the ground. The top was coming apart and the staves were going up and
down before they fell to the ground and stayed there.
Howard Krueger: Well, that same storm on the Golz farm. Marvin told me that there were three tornados that came
through there and the third one is the one that took his house. I said, “Well, how did you know there three
tornados?” He said they were in the basement. He and his wife were in the basement. He said, “Well, the windows
in the basement bowed in. They didn’t break, but they bowed in.” He said, “Then the house blew off in the third
tornado.” I asked him how he knew that the house blew off. He said, “The stairway left.” So they sort of watched
the stairway go off. That same tornado, Dick Wienke lived down on Emery Road and he went over next door. His
neighbor was Sarah Dunbar and he went over to Dunbar’s to see how she had fared in that storm. Dick knocked
on the door. She said, “Well, hi, Dick,” and she looked out of that back door. She had pretty colorful language
and she said, “Dick, gd my barn is gone. Well, gd Dick, I should be able to see that barn. Well I’ll be darn, the hen
house is gone and it should be between me and the barn.” So everything was rearranged in her yard.
Richard Templeton: Mrs. Dunbar had a sharp tongue. My mother used to go there and pick strawberries. A
couple of us kids would go with our mother, but we weren’t big enough to really help a lot. Anyway, it was a poor
berry year for strawberries. My mother said to Mrs. Dunbar. “How are the berries this year?” Well she says, “They
are no bigger than my breasts. They ain’t worth a damn.” That just blurted right out, just like it was everyday for
Sarah. A great wine maker though, whew, she could make wine like you could not believe.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Pretty potent too.
Richard Templeton: I’ve seen wine as clear as the water in these jugs that would just put a curl in your tail. Dick
Wienke used to go over, there because of her age, and check on her. “Well, let’s have a little sip of wine.” Dick
said, “That much in a water glass and you walked home kind a little like this.” Sarah was a good old gal.
John Ehle: There’s one person we haven’t heard from yet, and that’s Mel Janes.
Mel Janes: I’m Mel Janes and I’ll start and go way back to the history of the Janes family. It started in 1835, in
Janesville and my grandfather, four generations, was Fred Janes, who was a lawyer in Evansville for 50 some
years. In the late 20’s, he bought a farm, where we are sitting right now (Bank of Evansville) this farm. It later
became the Brunsell farm. My grandfather bought it, 117 acres in the hard times, the Depression years. Then,
when things got tough, the government offered low interest rate loans to help the farmers out. My grandfather was
a dyed-in-the-wool Republican and he wasn’t going to take any loan from the Democrats. So he lost the farm and
then it became the Brunsell farm, 117 acres, and that was in the early 30s, in the hard times. So, I’ve grown up in
this area. For 17 years we lived here, working for the Brunsells. My high school years and my early farming years,
and I have all kinds of memories of this area. Hunting squirrels in the woods back there where the houses are now.
The Brown School next door. The chicken house sat right here, pretty close to where this building is (Bank of
Evansville) that Dad and Mother made us boys, my brother and I, clean the chicken house, every Saturday. That
we hated with a passion. The Brown School house was just on the corner where the Piggly Wiggly Store is. My
brother and I always thought we were under-privileged because my mother could look out the kitchen window and
see if us kids misbehaved on the playground. We were that close. The house was right about where McDonald’s
is. The school house was over where the Piggly Wiggly is. I went to school there eight years, of course the
country school, and then I went in to Evansville. So this area has really got a lot of memories for me. Then, in
1947, we moved over to Cemetery Road. So, I’ve only lived two places, here and over there, all my life. There are
all kinds of stories I can think of. I don’t know, as you get older, it seems like you can remember the years past
better than you can last week, just an awful lot of memories. I can remember up and down this road, all the people
that lived here. Every farm had somebody on it at that time. They had community threshing crews. They had
community silo filling crews, and a lot of horses. Tractors just came in when I was a kid. I can remember driving
horses, trying to cultivate corn. I say trying, but then Dad got an SC Case tractor with a two-row cultivator. My Dad
said, “Which one of you boys want to drive the tractor. One of you get on the horse cultivator and one on the
tractor. “ So, I got on the horse cultivator. I was pretty smart, I guess, because I didn’t do very good with that
horse cultivator. My Dad said, “You better drive the tractor.” So, I got to drive the tractor and my brother had to
drive the horses. Then from there, the machinery kept getting bigger and bigger. Farms kept getting bigger and
bigger. This original farm here was 117 acres and that was a good sized farm at that time. Then, we moved off
here in 1947, to Cemetery Road. Then after that there were several area farmers that were on the Brunsell farm.
There was Dave Rowley, Corvey Neuenswander, Kenny Moe, Vic Paulson and I probably can name some more, but
there were several. Bud Phelps was on here too, and so then I forget who the last one, who was here, before it got
bull dozed out. Was it Dave Rowley?
Janis Ringhand: John Morning lived here for awhile. He had steers. He didn’t really farm it.
Mel Janes: So this area here has got an awful lot of history for me.
Dave Fellows: Are we in a calf pen now?
Mel Janes: A chicken house. It used to be a lane that went right up along to the woods, right under this high line
out here. There was some woods on the farm back there. I used to go back there squirrel hunting.
Mel Shotliff: Dave always said there was good coon hunting out there. He got a lot of coon out of the woods.
Mel Janes: I can remember right where this field is, you know, back in those days, when I was a kid growing up, the
farmers would blow out stones with dynamite. You could go down to the hardware store and get dynamite and
fuses and Dad, he was a dynamiter. They had one stone right over here by the power line, a great big stone. He
loaded it up with dynamite, rolled it right out and broke it into two pieces and you couldn’t move it. It was there yet
when they started subdividing back there. That’s the way they got stones out at that time, with dynamite.
Alvin Francis: Which hardware store had dynamite in Evansville?
Richard Templeton: Gamble store wasn’t it?
Mel Janes: I can’t say for sure.
Alvin Francis: I never knew they had any in stores in Evansville. We always had to go to Brooklyn.
Mel Janes: That could be. I said Evansville, maybe we had to go to Brooklyn.
Dave Fellows: We used to be able to get it at the Grange Hardware.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: I don’t know about Evansville.
Mel ShotLiff: Speaking of stones, coming up from Illinois we didn’t have hardly a stone. It was a rarity to find one.
So we move up here and Dad’s plow shouldn’t have left Illinois, because it wasn’t a trip bottom or nothing. He soon
learned he had to get rid of that. He said, “They named this county perfect, Rock County.”
Mel Janes: I can remember the old shed. They had dynamite. They had stuffed up there, a few sticks setting up
on the shelves, but of course it was no good without the fuses. They hung onto the fuses, but the dynamite was
Dave Fellows: Mel, tell them about your ancestor that founded Janesville.
Mel Janes: That was Henry Janes, 1835. He came in there and built a little log cabin with no doors and no
windows. He had a tavern. Then he built a raft to get across the river, so they could come to his tavern. So then
they decided they were finally going to name it Janesville. So they put a cigar box, nailed it up on the inside of that
little old log cabin. That was the mail route for the horse coming through. That’s where it started, Janesville, in that
little log cabin.
Dave Fellows: How many generations is that before your generation?
Mel Janes: I think four.
Howard Krueger: Go on and tell them what other Janesville’s he developed, too.
Mel Janes: There are other Janesville’s in the country. I think there is Janesville, Minnesota, Janesville Iowa, and
Janesville, and there was a Janesville, California and that’s changed its name. This guy, Henry Janes, who started
Janesville, he had a wanderlust, so he founded these other Janesville’s too and wound up over in California and
then his wife said that is as far as he can go. There were four Janesville’s at one time.
Dave Rhoda: Not being a native, one of the things that you talked about was like the Brunsell farm. There were a
lot of those farms that maintained the name. So you’d get a call and you’d say, “I’ll meet you at the Brunsell farm.”
There might have been five people since then, and not knowing the history you didn’t have a clue, why it was
named the Brunsell farm and where you were going to.
Dave Fellows: I want to go back to the Patterson family. Marvin Patterson was mentioned and I knew that you guys
were all related to him. Was Marv your uncle?
Robin Patterson, Sr.: My grandfather’s brother.
Dave Fellows: You’re great uncle. Would that be right? Well, anyway, he farmed right up here on the curve, as
you are going back in town, where the two houses are that Bob Schafeges turned into a housing development.
Back in 1920, my Grandpa, Lew Fellows, at the Fellows home farm, six miles east of here, decided that he had to
do better than what he could do on that relatively small farm. He only had 184 acres to work on. He had these two
grown sons, my Dad, Earl, and his brother, Roy Fellows and they were young adults at the time. They moved up
here and bought the Marvin Patterson place, on a land contract, in 1920. This was after World War I and the ag
economy had tanked because of excess military food stuffs that were thrown back onto the market. That
depressed the ag economy for the first half of the supposedly Roaring ‘20s. Well, Grandpa Lew just was itching to
buy that Patterson place and put his sons to work there. One of them was married. Roy was married and my Dad
was not yet married. He was a gay young blade that spent more time getting acquainted with various female
partners in the area, than he was in farming. He lived in an apartment in Evansville and he’d come out to the farm
to work with his brother, running the Patterson place. That was how they referred to it, as the years of the
Patterson place. Things went pretty well as far as the work was concerned. They had every conceivable enterprise
going that you could think of. They sold tree fruit, like apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, raspberries; they had
all the different kinds of livestock. They did everything under the sun that they could to make a living there. Then
in 1925, my Grandpa Lew, who had bought the place, got the home farm back, when young John Collins had
bought that, on a land contract. He defaulted on that land contract and the farm went back to my Grandpa Lew.
So, Lew said, “Earl, we’re going back and we’re going to run that farm.” This was about the time Dad finally found
the love of his life and married her in 1926, a year after they went back out to the home farm. Roy stayed up here
with Clifford, Morris and Harriet. Harriet married Dean George. Those were the only three that they had while they
were here at this farm. Then in 1928, they bought the canning company farm down there next to the White Star
School, a wayside now, where I went to school. Roy moved his family back there. There were stationary pea viners
there. The canning company in town still owned the farm, because this was on a land contract, too. So they were
able to keep their the pea viners there and all the neighborhood peas from out in this part of the Evansville area
were vined there at Roy Fellows’ place and then the trucks were hauling the shelled peas into the canning factory
here in town. Then in 1928, this was that Roy took over that farm. They had a pretty good sized family. There
were two or three other children born after that. They are all gone now. It was just an interesting part of the
Fellows family history. The other one I wanted to mention is the 1940 corn husking contest that was held at the
home farm, the Rock County Corn Husking contest. That was really a circus for an eight-year old boy, like myself,
to witness that. R. T. Glassco was the County Agent at the time. One of his tasks, of course a lot of county agents
have a lot of speeches to make. R. T. Glassco was never at a loss for words. He spoke quite a bit to the crowd.
Then, he went to start the contest by setting off a 10-guage cannon, a stationery cannon, that would set on the
ground. They weren’t real big things. The first round that he put in the chamber, for some reason, he didn’t close
the chamber completely. You’d think there’d have been a safety device to prevent any misfire. He got a misfire
and the back blast blew Glassco’s hat off and kind of scorched his face and his whiskers a little. He just cussed a
blue streak and just shrugged it off and put another round in the cannon and set it off and finally got the contest
going. A couple of other things about that Corn Husking contest. There were about 30 contestants from the
county that entered that. The winner of the contest missed having his photo taken with the group of corn huskers.
If you want to see more about that history, it’s downstairs in the Eager-Economy building on those wall photos that
Ruth Ann and I put together a few years ago, on those boards. It’s quite an interesting history. The winner of the
contest failed to get in the photo. Well, then the Gazette picked it up a few days later and finished the story and
published a photo of him shaking hands with another one of the contestants. It was a pretty interesting event. I
would say there were probably a couple thousand people out there. It was really a crowd. There was a comment
made about the generations in these farms around here. I thought that it was an interesting thing I discovered a
few years ago was that both my grandfather Lew and my father Earl were born in that same house. Lew in 1861
and my father in 1894 and then I was born in that house in 1932. I never could figure out why I was born in the
house, while my two older sisters were born in the Edgerton hospital, and to this day, I don’t have a sensible
explanation of how that happened.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: The Depression
Dave Fellows: I guess it must have been the Depression.
Mel Shotliff: I got a question for the group here? Where the Harvard Corporation is now, didn’t that used to be the
Robin Patterson, Sr.: The Brigham stockyards.
Mel Shotliff: So where was Luchsinger stockyards, was that at the same place?
Robin Patterson: Down on the south edge of town.
Joe Bradley: There’s a little white building down there now, they call a house.
Mel Shotliff: So back, years ago, there was enough cattle in this community to support two stockyards in
Robin Patterson, Sr. Well, there was the Fellows Station out by their place (indicates Dave Fellows). We used to
haul canned milk there and stack it on there and they’d load it on to railroad cars and went to Chicago.
Gordon Andrew: The Brigham stockyards was just south of the VFW.
Janis Ringhand: Wasn’t that Brighams that was over by the Co-op?
Dave Fellows: Yes, Brighams. Luchsinger’s was down there where the city has their garage now.
Gordon Andrews: My Dad was always a big salvager and he tore down that Brigham stockyards. We were
probably six, seven, eight and got to go to town to help him tear that apart. We built fences, block fences, pig
Alvin Francis: Dave has in his book about the trains about how the house that Lee George lived in was moved.
That house was moved there in 1946.
Dave Fellows: 1940. What was his name that moved it? Pete and Bob Olsen’s father. George?
Alvin Francis: Lee George lived there.
Dave Fellows: I should remember, I wrote it in the book.
[Excerpt from The Cut-Off and Fellows Station, by David Spratler Fellows, p. 49: A stationmaster’s house was built
in the tract sometime around the turn of the century and was the last house to be removed from the site. In 1940
Pete Olson bought it from the railroad and moved it by rail flatcar into Evansville, relocating it on the corner of
Walker and Cherry Streets. Seth E. Barnard was the first owner of record, holding it for two years. Lee and Viola
George owned and lived in it from September 1946, having constructed a facility next to it for their livestock
marketing business. In 1951, they sold it to Marvin Luchsinger, who continued using the property for his livestock
Howard Krueger: I have another question on the history of agriculture in Evansville. When I came to town there
was a cheese factory on Maple Street right in between where the veterinary clinic is now and the Baker Block. That
cheese factory went out of production right about the time I came to Evansville. Does anybody know anything of
the history of that cheese factory.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Schuepp, wasn’t it?
Gordon Andrew: Wally Schuepp was the cheese maker. He was a good friend of our family.
Howard Krueger: Schuepp? How about Kuenzli? I thought Junior, Leo Kuenzli’s Dad was a cheese maker. Was
he involved in that factory?
Gordon Andrew: I think he might have been.
Richard Templeton: I know Kuenzli’s owned it at one time but somebody else had it before him.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: One of the boys went to Monroe as a cheese maker, didn’t he?
Richard Templeton: I didn’t know there was more than one. They farmed out by Union before they went in here.
Where George Franklin used to farm on the curve. Kuenzli’s farmed that.
Jud Spooner: When Junior was in high school that’s where they lived.
Howard Krueger: Do you know anyone that produces that sold milk to that factory?
Rich Templeton: Roy Peach. Roy was down on pigs and my Dad always had pigs. So, Dad paid Roy Peach to get
some of the whey. After that one closed Roy’s milk went to Brodhead. My Dad bought an old fuel tank, you known,
one of the old fuel oil tanks, that stood on four legs. He laid it down and had Aaron Cornwell cut it. He went to
Brodhead and picked up the whey.
Francis Alvin: We did too.
Gordon Andrew: My Dad did too.
Rich Templeton: That was great stuff. The pigs never had worms.
Gordon Andrew: Before I was old enough to be in school Wally, with the old can trucks, would have a whey tank on
the box, and he would be at our place before seven in the morning. They had a big downspout to run from the
road, over the fence, to fill the water and if I was out there on time, I could get in the truck and ride with him down to
my uncle’s Fred Drafahl’s, while he was dropping whey and picking up milk there. Then he’d drop me off on the
way back to town. Those were good times. And I guess, thinking as this has gone around the room, you don’t
think about it till too late, but I guess I’m pretty proud of my Dad. He did a lot for our family. There were five of us
kids. He provided well for us. There were plenty of tough times but we always had food. We always had clothes.
We had what we needed and we had family.
[Note: The cheese factory on Maple Street was located on the lot that is now a parking lot for the Baker Building
apartments. It was first operated by August Mueller in 1938. Mueller made six different kinds of cheese and
purchased 2,300 to 2,900 pounds of milk daily from Evansville farmers. In 1948, Ernest Bahler and Eugene
Schuepp purchased the cheese factory from Leo Kuenzli,Sr., who had operated it for five years. Edward Weber
was the manager, with his assistants, Walter Wieland and Walter Schuepp (Eugene’s son). There was both a retail
and wholesale business. They manufactured only Swiss cheese, but also sold brick and limburger cheese at the
factory. In December 1955, the factory was sold to the Goldenrod Creamery of Brodhead. They installed new
machinery to manufacture Italian and Swiss cheese. The building was razed in 1968]
Rich Templeton: I would say this, everything that any of us talked about, it brought something to mind that I could
have spoke on and added more to mine. Robin, and I think Dave, talked about being born in the houses, you
know, certain houses. My family consisted of five children and my Mother and Dad. My youngest sister was eleven
years younger, so she was born in a hospital, but us older four were born in the old house that used to stand on
the farm. The house that is there now was built in ’55 or ’56, along in there. We were all born at home. Doc Gray
came out. Anybody remember Winn Fisher? She was a nurse. She got there first and then when it got real close
they would get Doc Gray and we were born right at home. Just so many things, everybody that mentioned
something, you know, something would click in my mind. It was brought up about how every place would have
different animals and different breeds. At one time I had over 100 ewes, sheep, and it was getting out of hand,
along with what I was trying to do at the other farm, because that was my job, the other farm. Phil Woodworth came
along and I got to talking about how I had too many ewes and they were all bred. And he said, “I’ll just buy 100 of
them from you.” Just like that. Just like that, I sold 100 and I still had 20 left. The hog cholera was brought up, the
first pig that came back on our farm and I think this is right. This had been years since we had pigs there. Sears
and Roebuck, and some of you 4-H people will remember this, probably Jud and Alvin, and maybe there’s more that
will remember it. Sears and Roebuck put out a program for 4-H guys that wanted to get into the pig business, or
start a pig herd. You could put your name in and if you were lucky enough to have your name drawn out, they
would furnish you with a gilt. When you got her bred and she had a baby, then you had to give back a gilt. So my
oldest brother, Ken, put his name in, and sure enough he was lucky enough. He got a Duroc gilt and it turned out
to be the biggest pet you’ve ever seen. We could hardly keep her in a woven wire fence. If you went close to her,
she’d just lay down and want you to rub her belly. She was nice sow and that’s how pigs got back on the Templeton
farm after this cholera deal that went through. There’s so many things. I’m very, very glad that I came today. Our
veterinary service has been great. I go back even further than Howard and Dave. I’ll tell this just as a little comical
thing. I had Doc? Who worked for Ed for a number of years?
Howard Krueger: Bunde?
Richard Templeton: I remember Bunde too and then he got killed. Campbell, Dad had trouble with a cow a fresh
cow or something. Anyway, she had trouble letting her milk down. I don’t know if she had a hard quarter or what.
Anyway, Doc Campbell comes out and he gave her this shot which was Oxytocin, when it first came out. Dad had
never seen anything, I mean the milk just come. And Doc he sits down and says: “Didn’t you milk this cow.” Kind of
insulting my Dad, you know. And it took a long time to take a liking to Doc Campbell. That was the first of
Oxytocin . I didn’t really get to know Doc Campbell for years and years. I mean, realize that he had a sense of
humor and he did. That’s when he served on the board at the golf course. I served out there for three or four
years. We got to know one another even better. I’m like the rest of the people here, I think our Evansville Vet
Service has been a compliment to our community and I appreciate having them be a part of my life.
John Ehle: I don’t want to pull too hard, but every one of you have a lot more stories. I hope that you can push
them out because today is the day. One of the things that has occurred to me is Gina is going to write an article for
the paper. I think toward the end of the week. The general readership don’t understand, as I don’t understand,
the nuances and technical part of farming. One of the things that I thought about in putting the group together was
this big pile of corn that sat out here this fall, which was really kind of a metaphor for how rich a harvest we had this
year. We’re in the middle of an economic downturn and then something like that turns up. It hasn’t always been like
that and I’d like to hear some reflections on maybe a little tougher times and the uses of fertilizer and maybe even
getting into how much more fertilizer you might be able to use in the spring because of a very, very productive
year. I’m just curious about how these things have a relationship. I’ve talked to my classmate, Donald, a little bit
about things like that. Not that we need to get too technical, but again, the readership would benefit from the
insights that you guys take for granted, just a thought.
Norm Patterson: One thing I’d start that off with is, and something that readers could understand is that I think what
makes farmers keep farming is years like this, if you’re a grain farmer. You have a good year. It’s that year you
always look for. Some people probably think, when they see that big pile, that all the grain farmers got rich this
year. Well, they might be making up for a couple of bad years, you know. It all cycles, up and down. That just the
way farming always is. You have some pretty good years but you have some pretty bad years, too. You always
keep going looking for that good year. Just to kind of start that discussion off.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: I can put out a couple of numbers here, where we are at for the fall right now. We have
moved 22,000 tons of fertilizer since October 1st. That is unheard of. We’ve never done that before. Dry fertilizer
is up 150%. Liquid fertilizers are up almost 500%. Anhydrous ammonia is up. So not only with a good fall harvest,
and a good price, it was an early harvest; which means people were finishing up in October, which is usually a
month early. That gave us the time. It gave us the window. The price was good on the corn. It gave us the
opportunity. So, the fall has been tremendous from a suppliers’ standpoint.
John Ehle: When you said up 150%, you didn’t mean price, you meant distribution.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Volume.
Mel Shotliff: That’s something you can touch on too, Robin. The price is way up. We got done early so we were
able to get fall fertilizer and nitrogen applied. But also the price of nitrogen and the price of fertilizer was a lot
higher, supply and demand. There was a problem getting enough anhydrous to some of the outlets because the
demand was so high. So, anhydrous ammonia went way up. So, even though we had a good yield and a good
price, we ended up putting a lot more of that back into our fertilizer and nitrogen needs, because that was more
John Ehle: It was driven up by the demand.
Mel Shotliff: Correct.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: But not as high as two years ago.
Mel ShotLIff: No, but anhydrous got up to $800 a ton this fall, from $450. That’s a heck of increase. Two or three
years ago it hit $1,200. But, when you talk about anhydrous ammonia going from $450 a ton to $800, that
correlates to a lot of dollars per acre, which took away from some of our good harvest.
Robin, Patterson, Jr.: Right, but I think, as a rule, wouldn’t you say that most of the fertilizer was bought fairly
reasonable for the fall?
Mell Shotliff: The early stuff, there was a lot of it was bought at $500-$600 , but the ones that got done later,
because the supplies were dwindling, and they couldn’t get it shipped out fast enough.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: It did get tight.
Mel Shotliff: The later applied ones ended up paying that $750 to as high as $800 a ton, if they still chose to put it
on. You can put it on in the spring. You didn’t have to put it on this fall. But the supplies got real tight because
there was such a large demand because of the early harvest, which a lot of people don’t really realize.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Right.
Gordon Andrew: I like to say just a little bit about contract production. Contract production has kind of been
publicized as a bad thing. It’s like mega farms, contract grow, and in the area here, there are a lot of soybeans
grown as contract production, that are specialty crops. Looking back, in 1960, we had contract production of white
corn for Frito Lay. We were picking with an ear corn picker yet. When we harvest it, you hand fed it to the
elevator. Any yellow ear you shucked out by hand. Then again in the spring when we shelled the corn, we sorted
out any more yellow ears. The idea of specialty crops and specialty markets have existed for a long time and have
benefited a lot people by added revenue from those specialty products.
Dave Fellows: We grew hybrid seed corn for Renk for 30 years. At the time we got into it, it was a strange way that
we got into it. We became acquainted with a farmer near Janesville who had been doing it for a number of years. I
can’t remember just now how we connected with him. He was going to go out of it and he suggested we might like
to try that. We approached the Renk Seed Company in 1976 and that was that real drought year. You don’t know
in the spring of the year what you are going to have, you know. Here we were putting in a crop of seed corn and we
didn’t have enough water on it to grow it that summer. That’s why we went into irrigation. So, one thing led to
another. We became quite a sizeable chunk of 450 acres of irrigated ground, because of that. We got this
contract with Renk and fortunately we got enough water on it to produce a crop or there probably wouldn’t have
been another one the next year because the seed company always stood behind the seed cost. The seed for seed
corn growing is two lines of inbred corns, male and female. The yields for crops like that are way below a 100
bushel to the acre. So that seed that we get from the seed company to put in to grow our hybrid is like $800 a bag.
We didn’t have to pay that. The seed company forwarded that to us. So, you got a lot of their money invested in
your fields, but you have to grow it. So it turned out to be a profitable enterprise for Rainbow Prairie Farms and I’m
glad that we did it but at the time we almost had our neck in a noose because of what happened with the weather in
John Ehle: I won’t ask anybody individually. What was a good output this year per acre would have been what?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: The state average was 163, I believe. Soybeans, I think across the state you would be
looking at 120-220 would be a fair range, I think.
Mel Shotliff: I think what the city people here in Evansville don’t really realize is, back in the early 70s or late ‘60s,
or whatever,100-120 bushels of corn was pretty common. Today, in our area here in southern Wisconsin, there
was a lot of 180-220 bushel corn. Back when Gordon Kazda was running the grain department down town there,
everybody was pulling in a 250-300 gravity box and you were lucky if you got them back twice in the same day. You
picked corn until Christmas time. I would be willing to bet, you can probably look up the numbers, but I’d make a
pretty good wager, there was more corn in Stoughton Trailers parking lot, put in there in three weeks time, than did
2 months in the 1970s to fill the whole facility downtown. What Landmark Division has done for the community here,
the farmers, the volume that comes in there. You see gravity boxes hardly, at all anymore. It’s always semis, 1,000-
1,200 bushels per semi. They are backed up 20 deep. The grain comes in so fast and the yields are so big now
days, with the extra fertilizer, genetics, and the corn. They have really had to expand so fast to try and keep up with
the flood that comes in. It’s quite remarkable what they did. This year, with the fire, where would we be if they didn’
t take on the responsibilities of dumping that corn in that parking lot? They are absorbing all the handling cost to
pick it back up and everything. They are not charging us. The division is doing all that. They run the risk of the
spoilage over there. Ya, they are insured and everything. They are farmer owned. Maybe our dividends might be
a little bit less this year. But they did that because it was better for the community to have it piled right there where
they can do something with it, than to tell the farmers, “It’s going to have to stand in the fields until December, when
we get our leg put back up.” Where would we be then?
Donald Maas: There were some cooperatives that refused and shut down and they were trucking down here.
Mel Shotliff: That’s exactly right. Like Don just said, there were other elevators that were full and they were turning
farmers away because they weren’t going to take the risk that Landmark did of piling it outside.
John Ehle: Was that the case in Cottage Grove?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Cottage Grove had also piled on the ground.
Norm Patterson: Thank goodness it happened this year and not last year. If we’d have had the wet corn last year,
it would have been a serious, serious problem.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: You didn’t get started with harvest until November.
Robin Patterson Jr.: I did run the grain down in the ‘70s, downtown and ½ million was a big year. We had storage
for not even ½ million. When the farmers would come in at night, they would come in with the tractor, two wagons
on and the wagons maybe held 200 bushels. That was a big one; park them in a line, all over town. The streets
would be full. They’d come in and sign in a spiral notebook and then it was our job in the morning to go out and
find these wagons. Everyone had their name written on them. Find the wagons, and bring them through in order.
They would get emptied in the daylight hours. We would have everything full that night and then catch up during
the night. We’d dry 24 hours a day and you were lucky to turn a wagon once a day.
Mel Shotlff: Hopefully the kids didn’t open that your wagon and dump the corn on the street.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: It happened.
Norman Patterson: Halloween was usually the time.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: We had one go right down Allen’s creek, because we parked right along the creek down
Donald Maas: I know who owned that wagon.
Norman Patterson: Anybody in this room, Don?
John Ehle: Let’s guess.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: So, now we have storage for 12 million bushel and still ended up with probably, I’m guessing a
little bit, 1 million on the ground in Cottage Grove and probably 2 million here between Stoughton Trailer and what.
Ya, maybe higher.
Richard Templeton: But you had some carryover of some material.
Mel Shotliff: There was 2.6 in the Stoughton parking lot and between 600-700 over there.
Donald Maas: Monsanto’s goal is 300 bushel an acre by 2030?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Actually, the genetics, I think are there already.
Don Mass: That will increase this volume on the ground or in storage.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Right. Ya, we just keep building. We added another 1.1 million tent this year and another
575,000 bushel bin. Still everything was full. So it’s a nice problem to have.
Mel Shotliff. : It’s good for the whole area, the community, because the farmers are not going to take their extra
money and put it in a cookie jar. They turn around and put extra fertilizer on. They are going to go to town and buy
a pickup truck or trade a piece of machinery in. Because, like Norm said, maybe last year or the year before wasn’t
too good, so they didn’t trade any equipment. They didn’t fix anything. They put a band aid on it and waited for a
good year. So now we can go ahead and spend money. The farmer never saves anything. If he makes a nickel
he spends a dime. It’s just the way it is.
Howard Krueger: As a city observer, with the production in corn growing like it has, what about the markets? How
did they grow that fast and where is all that corn going?
Robin, Patterson Jr.: What is going to happen, here, as it has been explained to me, to the year 2050, this is where
everybody is benchmarking, towards, is 2050. We are right now at 6.8 billion people in the world. They expect it to
be 9.3 billion, which is a 50% increase in population. They are looking at a two-fold increase in what we are going
to have to produce in food by that time. Half of that coming from an increase in population, the rest of that coming
from increasing the caloric intake of the 2nd and 3rd world countries. They want to get to our level. They want to
eat as good as we do and who can blame them? A couple of other factors entering into that would be alcohol being
made from corn. There is another market that is drawing off of corn production for food. A third thing that is
coming into light now and I think it is going to take off and be huge, is not only the bio-fuels, but it is going to be the
bio-plastics that can be made from corn. Right now plastics are made from petroleum products for the most part
and they are filling up our landfills. We already have the technology to make plastics from corn, soybean and they
bio-degrade. I think this is going to take off. There is another use for our corn. So, not only trying to feed the
world, it’s all these other products that are going to be coming down the pipeline. China (1.3 billion people) has
been an importer of our products. They want to become an exporter and what China does in the next 5-10-20
years down the road is definitely going to effect the United States agricultural economy. How, I don’t know. If I
knew, if I had my crystal ball, I would tell you. I mean, there’s a lot of people guessing, but that’s huge. As we look
at the Midwest, we’re corn and beans, some wheat. South America has been trying to develop corn and bean
acreages down there, but what we are finding out is they really struggle with corn, but they seem to be better at
soybean production in South America. We may end up seeing more corn in the Midwest and more soybean
production coming from South America. There again, I’m trying to look in a crystal ball, but different people say that
may be coming down the pipe.
Norm Patterson: Aren’t South American’s yields going backward, too, in some places? They clear this land and
they get huge yields and then it starts to decline and they don’t really know why.
Mel Shotliff: They are getting a lot of diseases and everything. The same with us, when we quit dairying. The farm
never had soybeans on it for 50 years, because, it was always a 20 acre field of hay, a 20 acre field of corn. You
did everything through the cattle. You didn’t have any diseases, any mold spores or anything. Now, you get year
after year in these row crops, we are finding out that we have problems here, just like South America. They do a lot
of different things to try and control it. They have white mold issues down there, terrible. They’ll burn their beans
down. They’ll look dead, to try and make them grow shorter, so they don’t have so much white mold. They’ll try
different things all the time. They have a lot of issues down there to try and maintain their averages.
Norman Patterson: And the infrastructure down there is terrible. The transportation of the crops down there is their
Robin Patterson, Jr.: I think infrastructure is their biggest problem down there. I had a Brazilian group come
through in, I believe it was August. It was 22 CEO’s of the biggest companies in Brazil. I was totally honored that
they came through my plant. They had questions. They just couldn’t believe how we handled fertilizer. How we
move our product afterwards. Their number one issue down there is transportation, is logistics, fertilizer in, seed in
and then your finished crop out. Where we talk miles, they talk hundreds of miles. It is something they are going to
have to work out. I know we’ve also had a tour group of some people from China that came through a year ago. In
fact, one of the ladies in the group, was high up in the government, in relation to what we would have here as being
the Secretary of Agriculture, a comparable type position. They are coming here. Seeing how we move things;
seeing how we do things. We know we are doing something right here, especially in Evansville. If they come here,
they want to see how we do things. What we have planned for the future. They are more concerned, right now, in
getting to our level, than thinking ahead. China has also in the past been an exporter of fertilizers. They want to --
they are going to get to a position, where they will be more of an importer of fertilizer. Because they want to bring
their level up to ours, they have a lot of people to feed.
Mel Shotliff: Did you not say, the numbers issue here, when you were running the grain downtown, was that
500,000 you said?
Robin Patterson Jr.: Yes, we had one bin that was 100,000. Then we had the building across the street which was
160,000. We ran a couple of smaller 30,000-40,000 bushel bins in the country and then, the old Green plant, we
had about 100,000 in there. If you add them up, it’s about what we had. Then when we were full, we quit.
Mel Shotliff: Yes, I know, because I was one of the wagons in line after that. But to put that number in perspective,
you said a ½ million was your tops? I don’t consider myself a large farmer. Between my custom work and what we
did this year (there are people a lot bigger than me) we brought in 800,000 bushels of corn, ourselves, to
Landmark. That’s one operator, 800,000 bushel. Compare that to 30-40 years ago, when the whole division could
only handle 500,000. That’s just mind boggling.
Joe Bradley : You had Benny Green stealing the corn at the same time.
Richard Templeton: That goes back to the animals that are left in this country. There’s no pigs. There’s very few
steers. It’s just a few of us guys in the dairy business.
Mel Shotliff: We talked earlier, this community supported two stockyards.
Norman Patterson: Most of the farms were 200-300 acres, with some cows, with some beeves, with some hogs.
So by the time they took 80 acres for hay, maybe another 40 acres, everybody pastured, so you had some
pasture. Then, you maybe had 80 to 100 acres of corn. You filled one silo with corn silage. You filled some corn
cribs with ear corn and what was left came into town and that’s what we took care of. So, on an average-sized farm
from the 70s, they maybe brought a couple thousand [bushel], 30 acres into town. The rest stayed on the farm
John Ehle: Did prices drive the people out of the livestock business?
Richard Templeton: Livestock prices drove people out. You can look around the country and remember who had
pigs. Some of them were fairly big in the pig business and some of them weren’t. But that’s kind of the reason we
didn’t stay diversified. It was because pork prices weren’t that good and they took a lot of corn. Pigs took a lot of
corn. The cows seem to be most steady, but it’s a lot longer plan. You can get in and out of beef or pigs much
faster than you can get out of the dairy business. If you’re in dairy, it takes you years to get your numbers up,
unless you just go out and buy; which most of the time you can’t afford to do.
John Ehle: So the margins became so slim that it became too big a gamble to even go there?
Richard Templeton: Yes, the margins were so close and that’s why you’ve seen farmers go to the thousands of
acres, for some of them, to make a living. I’m not saying make a living, because they employ people and provide
jobs. But I’m not saying that was a good thing, and I’m not saying it’s bad thing. It weeds people out of the
business. Just because, if you had 10 sows having baby pigs you were lucky to wind up with 90 to 100 baby pigs;
you know, so many per sow. There just wasn’t enough money there, enough profit, to keep that smaller, little deal
going. You could put in, say in our situation, you could feed a few more cows and do it all in one thing, rather than
try to do this and that. I think it was the margin and some farmer’s age. Some of the people just didn’t have
children to go on.
Norman Patterson : There was a story going around, true or not, this would be twenty-five years ago, probably. It
was about a dairy farmer. He took his bull calves to Monticello to sell them. He took them there and saw what they
were selling for and kept them in his truck and drove back home. He stopped in Albany to drown his sorrows a little
bit and when he got back out to his truck, there were four bull calves in there.
Dave Rhoda: Livestock has really followed the same as evolution that the cropping has. In fact it’s the same types
of things. You talk about genetics, the fertilizers and the technology that has come along. The same thing exactly
has happened to the dairy industry so the dairy cow is doing the same type of escalation in productivity. A couple
of things that have been discussed here today, I think each of the diseases that I heard people talk about, those
diseases have been all been managed. Not that we don’t have new and different challenges now, but cholera and
those diseases have been eradicated, through technology. Cholera is eradicated. Not that it couldn’t come back,
but it is taken care of for now. With the swine industry, one of the reasons the swine industry declined is Wisconsin
lost its infrastructure. You talked about infrastructure, the swine industry infrastructure left. The state is working
very hard to see that dairying infrastructure stays solid in this state and it has.
Alvin Frances: The little stockyards disappeared.
Dave Rhoda: Yes, so the challenge with dairying now is not disease, as much as it is managing the comfort and
care of the cow. So, the evolving in our dairy industry has been in taking care of the animals to maximize their
productivity. Because, here again, the margin has narrowed. Just like it has narrowed on an acre of corn, it has
narrowed on the cow.
John Ehle: So, if an animal is out in weather like this, everyday, and brought in to be milked (and this is a town kid
talking) what you are losing is that animal’s requirement to keep its body temperature up by burning calories and
the calories go into the air instead of the milk.
Dave Rhoda; Yes, that’s an over simplification but that’s what we’ve done. We’ve evolved to make sure that they
maximize productivity because the margin is there.
Donald Maas: Don’t you think that the technology arrived first to let chicken farms to become very big? So the
neighborhood chicken farms all disappeared. Then the pork farms became mega farms, because the technology
was there. Fifteen years ago you could not have had 3,000 cow herds in Wisconsin. I don’t think the technology
was there to do that, but now you can do it.
Dave Rhoda. We had not really evolved how to care for them, those kinds of numbers. That’s what has evolved.
Robin Patterson Jr.: That will continue to change because it’s like agronomy with the crops. As we take care of one
problem, 30 years ago when we got rid of quack grass, something else came in. Something else is always going to
be standing in the shadows, lying underneath, that is going to come up. That’s our challenge. More and more of
it is getting done genetically versus chemically.
Dave Rhoda: And understanding the industry. In dairying in the past, one of the things you could always see on
the dairy farm is, if you were smart enough to see what the next ceiling was. “I’m going to bump into the ceiling and
figure out where it is and move that ceiling.” If you could anticipate it, and move it out the way first, productivity just
kept going. If you didn’t anticipate it, you hit it, then, you had to figure out what did I hit and what do I do? That
scenario will never change.
Robin Patterson Jr. That’s our challenge, not only genetically. What we are finding now is from a disease stand
point. We’ve started with fungicides now on soybeans and we’ve moved into corn. We’ve never thought of corn
needing a fungicide, as such. What we found, especially like this year, we saw a response from fungicides in corn.
We had trials out in fields this year where the test plot next to the treated area did not have any fungus in it; none
growing. We still saw a response to the fungicide. We’re not sure what’s going on but that’s where all of this is
going. Lots of times, it sounds more like micromanaging or whatever; but that is kind of where we are getting to with
our site specific soil sampling; our mapping off satellites. We are to the point now where we have the ability to put
the fertilizer on just where it needs it, off the satellite, off of our recommendations, specifically targeting areas for
that. Now, we are to the point where we had one farmer this year start doing variable rate seed. The next thing
down the road is going to be, not only varying the amount of seed per acre, it is going to be changing your seed
variety as you go across the field.
John Ehle: Is that called precision farming?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: That is precision ag. We are already doing the variable seed. Who would have thought 10
years ago, when somebody would come to you, “Well, some day you won’t need a farmer in the tractor.” I don’t
think John Deere sells a tractor now that is not auto-steer. All our sprayers are auto-steer. Once you in field it and
you lay it out in the field, it drives it. They all come with GPS. It’s just amazing.
John Ehle: One of the things we are really on the edge here, is what gamblers you all have been and are.
Because, there is no way you can control the variables you are dealing with, nature in the raw, whatever you want
to call it. As I talked to people leading up to today, in our planning session a couple of weeks ago, one of the things
we talked about was how dangerous farming still is and was years ago before some laws were put in place and etc.
We all know people who were affected by some pretty nasty farm accidents. None of it is humorous, but they are
worth repeating, I think. So what do you think? We’ll take a break and maybe touch on what a dangerous vocation
it really is, because I think, most people don’t know that, unless they are in the business.
Robin Patterson, Jr: When I started at the Co-op, grain came in from the fields, in gravity boxes, which seem to
facilitate us all right at the time. As Mel was mentioning, now things come in by the semi-load. Just about everyone
has at least one semi on the farm, if not more, and more available. The sheer volume, now, that we handle has
made it fortunate for us to be on the Union Pacific Railroad line. We are able, through our new grain facility plant,
that is on Landmark Lane, because we are on the rail, we can get unit trains in of 75-100 cars. We can load 100
cars in just a little over 12 hours. That is 330,000 bushels, which is almost equal to what we used to do in the entire
fall of the early ‘70s, when I started at the Co-op. We will in this season here, since mid-October, about every 7 to
10 days, we have been getting a unit train in there. Just the sheer volume of corn, wheat and beans that we are
able to move out of there has made it possible for us to pick this corn up off the ground and get it back under
cover. If we had to depend on trucking services to move this grain out, (a rail car equals 4 trucks) so a unit train of
100 cars would be 400 trucks, that every time the train comes through here, that we are keeping off the road and
moving by rail. So, that has been a tremendous benefit. We can go right to everything from chicken ranches, to
hog setups, to the Gulf and put on ships to go overseas, right from Evansville here. So that’s been pretty fantastic
for the area here. Dave kind of wanted me to explain what we are able do, in that aspect.
Dave Fellows: How do the grain truckers feel about this?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Being as we are doing the trucking, I guess that’s fine. We have our own trucking company
now, with 17 semi’s, that we do most of our trucking in house, from L. P. gas, ammonia fertilizer, grain, petroleum
products, diesel fuel, that we handle in house, as a separate entity, but still attached to Landmark.
Mel Shotliff: Landmark semi’s are hauling a lot of this grain with their semi’s too, going to the Ethanol plants in
Jefferson, Milton, and Monroe. They are moving a lot of corn by truck, too. Not everything is going out on rail.
Robin Patterson, Jr. : Dorothy will line up trucks to run corn down to Monroe or to Jefferson. They’ll haul alcohol
out, and go mostly to McFarland, where the plant is for gasoline to make the E-10, basically the 10% oxygenated
Dave Fellows: It hasn’t hurt the independent truckers then?
Mel Shotliff: There’s still plenty of trucking out there.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: I think everybody is busy.
Dave Fellows: Another thing I’d like to point out about that is that the cutoff is still alive. That’s what this 17 miles
of track between Janesville and Evansville is called, or was called, back in the days when it was built in 1886. In the
last chapter of my book I celebrate that fact with the reader. Because, it is pretty remarkable that that 17 miles of
cutoff is still alive. There isn’t anything going on beyond Evansville on that line and we are fortunate to have been
able to convert that into a return loop that is still hooked to the main freight lines in the Midwest.
Norm Patterson: I heard that they had trouble getting rail cars in earlier this fall.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: We were running, on average, about two weeks late.
Norm Patterson: Just demand?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Just demand. We couldn’t get the cars. The railroad will get them in as they have them.
Obviously, the crop was early all over the Midwest and once we got two weeks behind on getting the railroad cars
here. We were probably on our first unit train that came in, when we should have been on about our third one at
that point. So we got behind there. By the end of this month, we should be back on line for the time frame and
time schedule and that. Everything was fine. It was just getting it in. Then we also get in our UAN and fertilizer on
that same rail line. So, it’s been good. It’s kept the rail going. I don’t know, do they even bring anything up by the
Templeton farms and park on the rail anymore? When’s the last time anybody even came up to the rail your way?
Richard Templeton: That got sold off from right behind us. Oregon- Fitchburg bought the line, I don’t know, from
Madison, at least from Oregon down to right behind our set of buildings. I couldn’t tell you how many years ago
they had the little handcar deal for people in Brooklyn and Oregon to ride the rail on the little putt-putt cars. That’
s been many, many years. Right now behind our place, as far as, what they call this line now? It’s not the Chicago
Northwestern anymore. It was when I was a kid, but I don’t know what it is now.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Union Pacific.
Richard Templeton: They have automobile hauling cars stored behind us. For who knows how many years, they
sit there and sit there and sit there. As far as from the point where they have to stop, Oregon-Fitchburg came down
and put on a stop on the tracks. They used to push them all the way to Butts Corners Road. But they didn’t like
that, so they came down and put a stop on and so they stop right by the one underpass we have. They’ve even
done away, in Brooklyn, the rails are gone. In both areas in Brooklyn, where the tracks would go through, the rails
are gone. Oregon did have to put the overhead pass back. I think they took it out and then found out they had to
put it back in. I’m quite sure, because there is one there now.
Alvin Francis: A cement truck ran into it and damaged the bridge.
Richard Templeton: Was that what it was? Because I’m sure the last train to go through there was the Circus
Train, many, many years ago.
Alvin Francis: I think Oregon’s industrial park still has hopes, but I don’t know how good they are.
Richard Templeton: That’s why they bought the line. They were hoping that…what was the big lumberyard in
Madison that was going to build a place in Oregon?
Janis Ringhand: Brunsell.
Richard Templeton: Brunsell and that fell through so they wound up with a hunk of railroad.
Dave Fellows: I thought Lycon was going to build a plant there too.
Richard Templeton: It’s such a mess. Naturally, they don’t take care of their fences. They don’t trim their brush. It’
s a headache for us farmers that do have tillable acres along there. In one of my abstracts, it does say, when the
railroad ceases, that land comes back to the farm. Well, I went to a meeting and brought that up, and one official
said, “You’ll never get that back. That will go to hike and bike, or the DNR.” Well, not if I’ve got a little fight in me.
It was taken away. It was given away, or taken away from the farmer.
Alvin Francis: You are thinking like the Footville one, they took that out.
Richard Templeton: They took that out. I’d only get half of it. The other half would go to the Ringhand side. My
half, the rail was picked up probably 40 years ago. That half, there used to be two sets of rails going through
Robin, Patterson Jr.: The rail up from Monroe up through Belleville is now a hike and bike, am I correct? I believe it
Richard Templeton: That’s just what I would like is somebody throwing out pop cans and who knows, plastic
bottles, and whatever. I would fight that for quite awhile because it’s just not right. And they said well, if it is in the
abstract. Well, it was put in there for some reason.
Mel Shotliff: What I think is very interesting with Landmark and their rail division over there, is the high tech part of
it. I was sitting down there one night in my semi waiting for the cars to get loaded, so we could unload and go back
to shelling. They were loading a set of cars. They were going to Mexico. The cars going to Mexico had to be a
higher grade than those going to some other terminals. So they were keeping this all separate. I know you
mentioned the chicken. The chicken sales, that has got to be a certain test weight. So there is a lot of
management and a lot of high tech stuff that has to be taken care of there. Or it can cost the farmer-owned
Landmark, which would end up costing us our dividends.
Robin, Patterson, Jr.: Every rail car that goes out of the plant, while it’s loaded, a state inspector is in the head
house while it is being loaded, grading that load as it goes on the train. They don’t want it to get it down
somewhere and have to reject it. When we get a rail car in, we have to notify that we are going to be loading cars
at this point. And then the inspectors come in and they are there from beginning to end for loading and grading
Mel Shotliff: It was very educational and informative. I was glad that I was there that night because I didn’t realize
how much management there is when a train car comes in. You pull a lever and they are blasted full, and that’s it.
But, there’s a lot more to it than that. It was really interesting to be on hand to see that.
Robin, Patterson Jr.; When you imagine that a car is loaded every four minutes, from the start of one car to the
start of the next car, not just the start to finish on that car, its about four minutes.
Mel Shotliff. : And something that you mentioned earlier, John, safety. When they go out, before they start filling a
car, they have to check the top lid and the bottom and everything. Two people have to be on hand, they have to
be harnessed. There’s safety, everything, all the way through. You think, oh, I’ll run up the ladder and I’ll open a
lid, or something. But there’s protocol and even though it’s the heart of harvest. They are two weeks behind. They
are rushing. They are still doing it in safe procedure. It was very impressive. I was glad I was there that night.
Robin Patterson, Jr,: I would like to like to invite everyone, if any of you ever go on Facebook or welcome to go
onto Landmark’s webpage. It’s www.landmark.coop and go onto Evansville. We now have a marketing girl that has
set up just a fantastic webpage for us. Now we are also in Facebook, Twitter, and the others. So if you go in there
and just click on the Facebook icon, if you are ever curious, you can see pictures of different things from inside the
plant there. Everyone is welcome to go in there and you can see what Mel is talking about. I’ve taken pictures up
in the plant when they are loading, of the guys harnessed up and that. That’s why we’ve got it there. Not to say
that the farmers aren’t probably the ones that go in there and look at it. But we want it there as much to educate
the city side of things. A generation ago, in Dad’s generation and Grandpa’s generation and that, the farm and city
was more blurred. Everybody had country schools. Over half the population was growing up on farms. As we’ve
drifted away from that, now farmers make up about 2% of the population. The biggest challenge for farmers in the
coming years is going to be educating the city people, keeping them informed. What are we doing? Why is this
going on out there? That’s why we set up these pages to go in there so people can see. It’s not really bad stuff. It’
s just getting bigger and bigger. We’ve got to keep the lines of communication open. We’ve got to keep educating
and that’s going to be our challenge for the next generation, even after us now.
John Ehle: Gina [Duwe] is going to make them curious.
Mel Shotliff: I think the biggest challenge, for the farmer out in the country, who is actually harvesting the crops and
bringing them in, is vehicles on the road. The city people do not understand the size, the weight, and the danger
and what would happen if their little tinny car would collide with this heavy iron? It would be devastating.
John Ehle: Even their great big car.
Mel Shotliff: It doesn’t matter. They don’t understand what they are tangling with. You are supposed to stay in
your little seven-foot lane, or whatever, but this equipment is the width of the road. Our four-wheel drive tractor is
16 feet wide, tire to tire. How am I supposed to be staying in the 7 foot lane? I’ve tree branches hitting on my GPS
globe and my $500 heated mirror. It just don’t work. You always are in a hurry. It seems like these city people are
getting less and less educated to the country and they are more in a hurry. “How quick can I get around them?” I’
ve been passed on hillsides, double yellows, around curves, just so many close calls. They’ve got to be educated
to respect the farm equipment, because it’s their life that they are dealing with.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: For the most part, it’s a limited time in the spring and a limited time in the fall.
Mel Shotliff: The Gazette did run an article, right before harvest, about the safety and the dangers of farm
equipment, and please respect them. That was very good. You did a good job on that.
Norm Patterson: I think most farmers will eventually, get to the point where there are 15 or 16 cars behind you, if
and when they can, they’ll pull over and let the string of cars go by. But people just got to go by right now.
Robin, Patterson Jr.: Another thing I would like invite people to, if you have a chance sometime, go into U-Tube.
The next time you are in there, go in and type in One Hungry Planet. You are going to get about a 4-minute video
that was put together, that I think is just awesome. I think it should be shown in every high school, church, civic,
council meeting, whatever. It’s just a fantastic video about the history and future of agriculture. They have
condensed this thing down. If you get a chance, just look at it and enjoy it for what it is. It’s called One Hungry
Planet. It’s on U-Tube and it’s about 4 minutes long and I think it was one of those things that was really done well
and I’d like to see more people see it.
Dave Fellows: I’d like to ask you Robin and Mel here, your views on ethanol production and E85 use as flex fuel in
vehicles. What’s your take on what is happening, or not happening, in that area of ag marketing?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: This will be my personal take. There are a lot of opinions out in the country, everywhere from
grass roots up to CEO’s. When they are talking about energy, and what we are going to need for the next 30 to 40
years, we are not going to be able to get rid of coal, which is a fossil fuel. It just happens to be a dry fossil fuel for
our power plants. That’s going to have to stay. It’s probably going to even have to grow a little to sustain. They
cannot put up enough wind turbines or nuclear power plants to do this. So we are looking at, you know, we’re going
to need fossil fuels for the foreseeable future, here for awhile. Does ethanol have a place in there? I believe it
does. But I don’t know if the economics are there for it to ever become the end all to solve all of our problems.
Obviously, it’s a renewable resource which everybody likes. That’s great. It’s quite environmentally friendly when
you burn ethanol, as compared to gasoline or even diesel fuel. But I just don’t know if the economics are there to
produce it. It’s a great market. Where it’s going? If I had that guess, I’d be out and buying a whole bunch of stock
in something. It’s a tough call, even with the soy diesels, all those renewable products. What’s your read on it,
Mel Shotliff: Again, this is my personal opinion. I agree a lot with what you just said. They will not stand on their
own without the government subsidy. But, you pull the government subsidy out, and they fall, do you want $150 to
$200-a-barrel oil? Oil will run out. It’s not going to last forever. So which is the root of two evils? Do we continue
to subsidize it with taxpayer money, which is our government, and use up grain, which is keeping the grain markets
up, which the farmers put back into the community. So, I don’t know. It’s a tough one. We might not like it. It won’
t stand on its own. But we almost need some renewable energy and it’s clean.
Robin Patterson, Jr.: I absolutely agree. If for no other reason than that we need that to keep everybody else,
quote , unquote, honest and because it is clean. It’s going to be around but it’s not the answer to everything, but I
think at a certain percentage level it will work.
Mel Shotliff: I agree 100%.
Dave Fellows: What perplexes me about it is that it seems as though every automobile manufacturer in the nation
right now produces a certain percentage of their vehicles capable of using either E85 or unleaded regular
gasoline. Yet, you don’t see any emphasis on that from the media, either the print media or the television media,
and I don’t quite understand that, why automobile manufacturers themselves aren’t touting the use of E85 more.
Ever since we bought our latest automobile, an ’09 Impala, two years ago, in December of ‘08, we’ve burned E85 in
it. People say, “Well it doesn’t have as much BTU’s per gallon as gasoline does. You are going to have to use
more of it to get the same dollar efficiency in your mileage.” That may be true, to a point, but I’ve compared
identical trips using both fuels to Rice Lake and back, going up there to see somebody that we are related to, on
occasion. There’s been about a 5-mile-a-gallon difference between the two fuels. So I don’t put a whole lot of
stock in that because you can buy E85 cheaper than you can unleaded regular. I just don’t get it.
Mel Shotliff: Well, until somebody comes up with a different solution, it’s here to stay. It’s cleaner. It might not be
a safe-all, but for the time being, it’s the best we’ve got. That’s my take on it.
Dave Fellows: What is?
Mel Shotliff: The E-85, the bio-diesel, it’s a cleaner burner. It’s helping with emissions. We are using our own
products, which is generating jobs and putting money back into the economy.
Dave Fellows : Yes, and that’s the bottom line to me is we are putting money back into our economy.
Mel Shotliff: We are not subsidizing Saudi Arabia.
Dave Fellows: Yes, OPAC is kind of being pushed to the background. The ad agencies aren’t pushing it. The
automobile manufacturers aren’t pushing it. Why?
Norman Patterson: Too much politics.
Dave Fellows: Is the petroleum lobby that powerful that they can control that and keep the lid on it? I don’t know?
Mel Shotliff: What have you found in the distribution? Is it evenly out there so it is available and multiple stations
or are there certain parts of the country where it is not available? Do you know that answer?
Robin Patterson, Jr.: You have got to look for your E85 station. I’m sure you’ve found that out Dave. You have to
find an E85 station and then that’s going to be your place to go.
Dave Fellows: That’s hard to do.
Robin Patterson Jr. : We have two all within Landmark.
Dave Fellows: One at Cottage Grove.
Mel Shotliff: I think that’s one issue and then with the farm equipment, you get to this newer farm equipment. If
you are burning x percentage of bio-diesel, it will void your warranty:
Robin Patterson, Jr.: Tier 3 and tier 4 engines. That’s a whole another ball game, with the new Tier 3 engines in
our petroleum department and even the oils that go into them, not only the fuels. They are so high strung that you
can’t mess up.
Mel Shotliff: We have backed down on our bio-diesel because our engines are getting newer. You don’t want to
go out and buy a $200,000 tractor and void the warranty right away, the first time you fill up with fuel.
Rich Templeton: They claim now that the new engines from the two major companies that we know, are going to be
putting out cleaner air from their exhaust, than the air they are taking in to use with their fuel.
Mel Shotliff: 100% correct.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Auto industries are pushing these electric cars and you have to wonder how much of the
electricity that they are using to charge their batteries is produced by fossil fuel?
Rich Templeton: That’s a good point Robin. I see electric cars advertised on TV and that. Gee, where are you
going to get your electricity? That’s got to be produced too.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: You have to put solar collectors on the roof.
Joe Bradley: John, are we getting away from the focus of this meeting?
John Ehle: Well, I think, it didn’t surprise Dave, I, or Gordy that this is where it would go because of the way the
industry is going. It’s progressing. We had our opportunity to reminisce quite a bit. We had some middle ground
and this is where the industry is going. It doesn’t surprise. I’m very reluctant to direct conversations when you get
people in a room like this, because it does take on a life of its own. As I said to Gordy, “You get the right people in
the room and it’s going to be fantastic.” And it has been. I’m personally enriched and learned a lot. If, in fact, we
have explored kind of the esoteric topics, evidenced in the last 10 or 15 minutes. Do we want to, anybody getting
short on breath? Alvin.
Alvin Francis: I had a comment related to the animal agriculture. It is just an observation. If you thought about
when were most of the silos built. Most of the silos in the country are in the upper Midwest. Most of them were built
between 1960 and 1980. The whole building boom was in that era. That was all oriented toward animal
agriculture. It was oriented toward one family, with no extra help, agriculture. It’s just an interesting point, I think.
The grain production, for commercial grain, started in this area about 1960. It was difficult to harvest grain in 1960.
I rented a little land here in Evansville, Every’s, and I hired Rich’s uncle Arnie Rupnow to combine it. I think Jud
would come up and operate the combine sometimes at night for him. They were slower than heck. We used to try
to figure out if he was moving. It was a long field, a ½ mile long field. It went all the way up to Kinsey Court here in
Evansville at that time. The only way you could tell if he was moving was to look at the wheels and see if they were
turning, sometimes, if he was down at the other end of the field. And five years later there were people like Corvin
Neuenswander, Don Larson, and Gordie’s dad had Massey combines that would go several times faster. They
started harvesting. In the early ‘70s, John Deere came out with a little better copy of the Massey combine. They
could harvest even faster. I was just thinking that right there from about 1960 to 65 was when the commercial grain
production started. There was a big expansion in mechanization of agriculture that ended about the time the
interest rates went to 20%, in 1980.
John Ehle: What’s the future use for all those silos?
Joe Bradley: Bulldoze.
Rich Templeton: The landfill.
John Ehle: So they are not viable receptacles for anything?
oe Bradley: Most of them are structurally unsound.
Alvin Francis: I use them for grain storage and I’m still using them for silage and grain storage.
Jud Spooner: The way they feed now, they are too slow.
Alvin Francis: The other thing, somewhere about in that time, everybody here probably had a visit from Les
Helgesen. He did a lot for promoting alfalfa harvesting at a better stage, as well as high-moisture grain storage.
Mel Shotliff: I think you talk about farm injuries. Alvin said that in the ‘80s things started graduating over from so
many pigs and cattle into more grain. If you went back and researched, I think you would see, the injuries slowly,
the level, going down. When there was cattle, the 160-acres farm with some 50 cows and some pigs. Mom and
Dad and the kids did everything. There was no outside help. You’d have 5 to10 year old kids running around out
there helping with the chores. You were filling your silos. You had to worry about gases in the silos; getting
crushed by 1,000 to 1,500 pound animals; and you’ve got little kids getting crushed, stepped on; a foot in a barn
cleaner or silo motor. There were so many dangerous things when cattle were around. It was the young people
around it. You had your mounted pickers; where they’d get bound up and people would take a stick, or whatever,
and pretty soon they lost an arm.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: A lot of fingers went with the pickers.
Mel Shotliff: As we’ve gone away from some of those dangerous jobs. Now it’s grown adults that are running the
bigger equipment. They are more safety oriented. There are safety switches on the seats. So if you come off your
seat, it shuts down. The moving parts stop. So you can’t put your hand in there and get it cut off.
Richard Templeton: We got one of each.
Mel Shotliff: You can put jumper wires on those seat safeties. It’s really frustrating, when you want to go oil the
chains, and you get off the seat and everything stops.
Norm Patterson : Back to the single family farming and doing it all. I know of one neighbor specifically and they had
a bunch of kids and that baby was always in the barn; in the stroller when they were milking cows. Because they
were both in the barn milking and the baby came with them. You know, if a cow got loose from the stanchion.
Mel Shotliff: My Mom and Dad told me this story. This is way before my time. They knew a couple; you just said
the baby went with them everywhere. Mom drove the bailer and Dad bailed. The baby was sleeping on the edge of
the field, or under the blanket, whatever. The baby woke up, and crawled into the windrow and the baby went
through the bailer. I’ll never forget that. My Mom and Dad told me that story more than once.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: I had a friend, deceased now, that lost an arm. His dad was mowing hay and the kid went out
and went to the edge of the hay and his dad came along and cut his arm off.
Mel Shotliff: We’ve all got cat legs.
David Rhoda: Several things have come up here just recently that really speak to the evolution in agriculture. One
of the ones that I listened to was the environment. Modern agriculture is much more in tune with the environment.
We have improved our environment, even as the industry has gotten larger. One is safety. Now, we had a lot of
help from people that were engineers and that sort of thing. I think that the safety has improved dramatically. We
know that our food safety has improved because there has been a lot of pressure put on that. So agriculture has
evolved. The facilities that you were talking about, not using silos, not climbing silos, this sort of thing; the facilities
have been improved for the people that are doing the work and for the animals that occupying them. So one thing
about agriculture and the evolution of it, no year is the same as last year, and I won’t say that every improvement
has been an improvement. But most every technology that has come along has come with the idea of making some
improvement in productivity, animal care, and people safety. There’s a lot of it. It’s a long list.
John Ehle: Those three are pretty exhausting, when you think about it.
Dave Fellows: We lost a niece that suffocated in a wagon load of shell corn, years ago, helping her dad unload the
gravity box load of shell corn. Another nephew that was riding his bike across the highway in front of the farm and
was hit by a car, because he couldn’t see that one was coming when he crossed. We lost him. You just don’t hear
much about those things anymore. I would dare venture the statement, that there isn’t a family in this room that
hasn’t had things like this happen in their own families over the years. I see us, thankfully, getting away from that
Mel Shotliff: What group is it now that is in charge of your tractor safety? You have to be a certain age and go
through tractor safety before you can be allowed to work on a farm and drive a tractor. Years ago, wasn’t it you,
Robin, that said you were six years old and you were driving a tractor? I was the same way. I can remember being
so small that I couldn’t reach the clutch to stop the tractor. But I could turn the key off. That’s how I stopped the
tractor, when I started driving.
Norman Patterson: You had to start on a Ford because the pedal went straight down. So you could stand up and
push the clutch down on the Ford.
Mel Shotliff: It was a Massey Harris 44 Special and I could not hold onto the steering wheel and push the clutch in.
So I just reached down and turned the key off.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: The seats weren’t as adjustable as they are now.
Norman Patterson: I think the first time I drove the tractor was baling hay, with a Ford tractor and Dad was loading
it. I didn’t know how to turn on the ends to get to on to the next windrow. So he’d jump off the wagon and run up
to the tractor and get me steered around to the next windrow and I’d just keep going straight till we got to the end.
Mel Shotliff: I was driving baler and Dad would always get me started. The load would get full or whatever, and
you got to stop, just turn the key.
John Ehle: My first tractor driving lesson was on the Patterson farm. I was under the tutelage of my grandfather,
who had great facility with single syllable words, and he said, “Whatever you do.” He said, “If you start to go too
fast, push the throttle forward. Don’t put the clutch in.” I had two choices. So I pushed the clutch in and I’m going
down that big hill west of the farm.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: There went the load of hay.
John Ehle: Finally I stepped up on the brake and everything came around and I dumped a whole load of bales.
Then I got a real scalding message in those single syllable words and I learned. I never pushed the clutch in
Joe Bradley: You were fortunate you had the second opportunity.
Norman Patterson: That’s exactly right. When that one thing happens and you survive it, that’s the best thing to
make you learn, I guess.
John Ehle: I had one other opportunity to push the clutch in. I was about 27 years old. I was renting from a farm
family up near Black River Falls. I was pulling stumps out onto the road to cut the firewood off that the County
left. I had an old Massey Ferguson. I gave it too much and the front end came up and it was already like that up
toward the road, anyway. I had one stab at the clutch and I hit it. That was the last time I pulled the stump out on
Gordon Andrew: My Dad bought a 200 International and that was what the kids’ job was to go get the cattle at night
for chores. That’s how we learned, was on that 200. Of course the pasture was every place and tended to be
further away. There was a ditch on our farm, a drainage ditch, so the cows had access to water there. So it was a
little run, but we thought we were pretty big stuff to have the truck to go get those cattle.
Dave Rhoda: I have a bench mark in my memory as to when machinery got massive technology. I was on the farm
through college. I was in the Army in ‘66 to ‘69. When I came out in ‘69 and came out on your farms, if you had a
W-D or something like that, I’d jump on and use it. But, if you had a newer tractor than that, I couldn’t drive your
tractors. They had too many switches and levers and that sort of thing. I stayed off your tractors and asked you to
go and bring that tractor around and put the chute in, but, if you had a W-D or an old John Deere, no problem. I
loved to drive them.
Gordon Andrew: Well, before and through the 60’s tricycle tractors seemed to be common; were more of a
standard, and were really more dangerous. In ‘53 and ’54, in the winters, my Dad cut wood, sawed logs, getting
ready to build a new barn. He started out here on Kerstens, out on 14, one of the winters. Then he harvested on
184, or County H, the next winter. Phil Francis ran the Cainville store and he had a saw mill. Farmers worked
together, like we have kind of touched on. In one of those years, ‘53 or ‘54, my Dad brought a brand new M with a
loader on it. They delivered it in the winter and they were logging. The story goes that they delivered that tractor
and Wallace Miller was helping and he picked up, about the first log, and he tipped that tractor over. So, that was
a learning experience. Fortunately nobody was hurt but those tricycle tractors were a standard then and they were
somewhat dangerous. So that evolved. Then in ‘55, we built a new barn.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: I can remember when my grandfather and John’s great grandfather, of course he was used
to driving horses. It was in the ‘30s, ’35 along in there. My Dad bought a new Allis Chalmers UC and that was
when Bonny Harte was down here by the tracks and Bonny drove it home from West Allis. He had a wire on the
carburetor, on the governor. He said he was going 50 miles an hour down the highway with it. But anyway, getting
on to the first part of this, my grandfather and John’s great grandfather of course were used to driving horses. We
were out on my grandfather’s farm north of town here, which he had at the time. He got on the tractor. He was
going to drive it. He went out through the lots. There were several gates. One gate he came to, he just pulled
back on the steering wheel and said: “Whoa!! Whoa!! Whoa!!” He drove right through a wooden gate. A few
cuss words followed. That was his first experience and the first one I remember with him on a tractor. He made
kindling out of that gate. Of course, back then, they built most of them out of wood. Most of your gates were
wooden farm gates. He didn’t stop to open it. He just drove right straight through it. Another one I heard was
Frank Milbrandt, who some of you might have known. He always drove Lincolns or Cadillac’s. They had a bunch of
farms south of town here. He would go out to the farm. He’d never stop to open a gate. He’d just drive right
through it and send the hired man out to fix the gate after he got through.
Joe Bradley: I remember one of those incidents when I was driving tractors. We had a little ’49 M Ford. It was my
sales vehicle. I gave a picture to Ruth Ann of it. I remember that Dad and Mother had finally got a little money
saved and they painted the barns all up, just as nice as could be. I came around the end of the barn one day. Dad
was in the feed room filling up the feed bin or whatever it was and I stood on the brake and it had just rained and it
was on a little bit of cement. I stood on the brake and that little old Ford went right straight through that brand new
wall. Dad was right on the other side filling up the feed wagon. We had a discussion. I don’t think there were any
blue words, but he let it be known that that was not acceptable and “you’d better find a hammer, now!”
Robin Patterson Sr.: We had several Ford tractors over the years. That’s what he learned to drive tractor on. As
long as you had Ford implements hooked behind them that were on the three point, you were safe. But otherwise,
if you got to plowing in a tough pull, the front end always came up. You were running on two wheels and steering
with the brakes. That was a learning experience. As a matter of fact, he had one. The first farm I bought was west
of Leo Horan’s on Horan Road there. He was coming down with a baler or a load of hay or something. That Ford
took off with him coming down the hill and pushed him this way, that way, and the other way. I don’t know how he
ever got it stopped.
Norman Patterson: We had lots of runaways on that farm, pulling loads of hay with the Jeep and jackknifing.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Rosie and Leo Horan told me once that he came in the house that day with tears running
down his face and said “I had a little mishap out here.” He can probably tell you more about it than I can.
Norman Patterson: A plate of cookies and a glass of milk and it was fine.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: They were good neighbors.
Dr. Howard Krueger: The turkey didn’t chase you? He always had great big turkeys that chased you.
Norman Patterson: When you are about this big and that turkey comes after you. Ya, you ran.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: He was a mean one.
John Ehle: A watch turkey.
Robin Patterson, Sr. : He was their watch dog.
Rich Templeton: I had a turkey take me down once. That was a bad time. Another time, we had a calf out there. I
was going out with my mother. I was standing there with a little pail. All of a sudden the cow came and just rolling
me in the dirt. I’m hollering and Dad had to come a running and hit her with a fork and get me going. I’m sure
there are a lot of episodes like that.
Norman Patterson: Bulls will tumble you too. Everybody in this room probably knows about Dad’s experience with
the bull. I really, honestly, thought he was dead when I saw him laying face down. But he’s a pretty tough guy.
And his story of that, his version of that, and maybe I shouldn’t tell it here. But when people asked him what
happened, he says: “You know, when you are out in the barn, you do what you have to, where you have to, and he
went to the corner to relieve himself and the bull got jealous and took him out.”
Robin Patterson, Sr.: And he almost won.
Dr. David Rhoda: Your dad always had comical versions. We never went to that farm but what we didn’t get a
joke. Never! Not ever.
Dr. Howard Krueger: Even in the parking lot here.
Dr. David Rhoda: Even in the parking lot out here. That hasn’t changed.
Norman Patterson: Him and Leland Frautchy, you couldn’t get in and out of that driveway without a joke, either.
Dave Fellows: There’s a lot of standup comedy on the farm.
Norman Patterson: That’s how you survive it.
Dave Rhoda: You know in our area, here. This was always Norwegian and this was more Swiss. I would hear the
same story. One side it was a Norwegian story and the other side it was a Swiss story.
John Ehle: I think it would be appropriate to finish with a Norwegian joke, or at least start winding it down. Ole
stopped over to Lars on Saturday morning for a cup of coffee. He no more than got a couple of sips and he said,
“Ah, gees, Lars, I got to use the outdoor toilet.” So he was gone five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. So Lars say’s “I
wonder what happened to Ole?” So, he goes out there and he sees Ole’s feet sticking out of one of the holes and
he says, “Ole, what are you doing down there?” “Oh, I dropped my jacket down there.” “Couldn’t you just get
another jacket.” “Ya, I could but there was a sandwich in the pocket.”
Dave Fellows: I’ve got another Ole and Lena. Ole and Lena were at home one night and it was starting to snow
and they had the TV on. Everybody was being reminded that they had to observe the snow ordinance in town and
park on the even or odd side of the street. After the broadcast, Lena came in and said, “Ole, did you listen to
that”. Ole said, “Listen to what?” “Well, they told you what side of the street to park on." Ole said, “No, I can’t
remember Lina” And she said, “Well, never mind just leave it in the garage.”
Joe Bradley: There is one thing that I did want to mention that I think some of the people around here, I’m sure you
are aware of. During the one-room school days, the latter part of that whole series, Rock County was extremely
unique in that it offered musical programs for all the rural school students. I don’t know how many were involved
with it here. I know there several. The Crulls were involved and the Petersons were involved. That was the Rock
County Rural Band. The superintendent of the schools felt that we were losing, and the parents felt that the
students were losing an opportunity for music. So every week, Frank Daniels would come around to the different
schools and give you his lessons on your instrument. Then every Wednesday night we would all go down to the
Courthouse, up on the 4th floor, and you had a rehearsal. It was a social outlet for all these kids that were from the
one-room schools. You didn’t know anyone else. It was a social outlet for kids from Clinton and from Magnolia, and
Porter and all these different areas. It was a wonderful program. How many were involved in here? You were
involved, Gordie. I remember Joy was. Were the Pattersons?
Rock County Band
Robin Patterson, Sr.: We used to listen to Professor Gordon on the radio in the school house. That was our music
education. Of course the County had a music person that came around and checked the country schools. A lot of
the teachers, unless they could play the piano or something, they weren’t hired to teach in the country school,
because you had to have something for music in your school. I don’t think your mother knew how to play the piano,
Don Maas: Just a little.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Of course you know pretty well how to do it. Anyway I remember listening to Professor
Gordon. That was kind of a weekly special for us. We had hot lunch in our country school too. We had a big old
cast iron heating stove in one corner of the schoolhouse. We’d bring our raw potatoes to school and set them
inside the door in there in the morning and at noon we’d have hot baked potatoes for lunch. Or you could set a
bowl of soup or whatever in there. Of course, the boys always had to tend the fire, bring in the firewood and the
coal and take out the ashes and spread them in front so people didn’t fall down.
Gordon Andrew: We had a heater where everybody brought pint Ball jars with soup in them or chili, or whatever.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: So, the old cast iron heating stoves came in handy back then.
Dave Fellows: There is one thing about the past, in farming, that I think about quite often. How the sense of
community was nurtured so well in the early part of the 20th century when public schools were the common thing in
the neighborhood. Not only that, but there were certain houses in the neighborhood that had a ball room, like out
here on the old Horne place, east from here. Ruth Ann was telling me about going up on that ball room floor in
recent years and seeing all the signatures of people that were up there at dances, that had been invited into that
home. I think you added yours to it didn’t you, Ruth Ann? No? Somebody did. There was the spirit of
togetherness with the one-room schools and the Christmas programs and all the other events that kept families
together. Then of course there was the emergency neighborhood reactions to fires or wind storms or tragedies in
the family, or emergency surgery that the patriarch of the family had to go through at harvest time and things like
that. You know, that spirit is not dead. It really is not. It has suffered a lot from the loss of the one-room schools. It
has suffered a lot from the lack of community playfulness and togetherness. But, we still rush to each other’s
assistance in times of great need and I don’t think that will ever die and I think that is good.
Gordon Andrew: Dave, I think we were located kind of uniquely. We were right between Cainville and Magnolia
stores. The country stores were a big social place.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Oh, yes. Very few of them are still running.
Gordon Andrew: I was probably four or five and that was when you were diversified and in the winter time, I think
Phil was probably down for a nap and I was playing or something. All of a sudden I looked around and Mom was
gone. There was nobody in the house. I was all alone. I went up and Phil was waking up from his nap. So I put his
overalls on. I couldn’t get the straps buttoned, so I just held them up and walked to Cainville to the store. Well,
Mom was out helping Dad load hogs. He was taking a load to Madison. Carolyn Francis called Mom. I’m sure that
was the old crank phone, ’53 or ‘54 and said: “The boys are down here.” Well, we probably got a little scolding but
we got an ice cream out of that. I pretty well remember that.
Rich Templeton : I think something was lost for the whole society when they did away with our country schools.
Eighth graders worked with kindergarteners, mainly first graders, very few tried kindergarten. I did for a day and I
didn’t like it, so I didn’t go any more. I just went when I was a first grader. I remember the Krajeck family really,
really well, Coralyn, Bob and Richard and their younger brother, Don who was somewhat younger than me.
Coralyn and Richard were two people that would just absolutely go out of their way to help first graders, second
graders, put their boots on or help them on the play ground. We all played together. Big and little, made up your
ball teams, whatever, volleyball, big ones and little ones, like I say. It was just a great, great thing. Over the years,
my grandkids, my kids, they went to Evansville. They only know kids in their class. They don’t get that experience
of associating with other kids, older, younger, as we matured through the years. I think it was an absolutely bad
thing that happened there. I don’t know how it could have been done different. I think that was a real, real good
education. I shouldn’t just mention the Krajeck’s. There was a lot of good upper classmen that helped all of us
younger kids. As we grew, we tried to do the same thing.
Mel Shotliff: One thing that I have seen is that we have evolved from being a smaller, family oriented farm into the
bigger scale, whether it is large in livestock or large in grain. Growing up with the livestock industry on a smaller
farm, whether it was breakfast, dinner, or supper, Mom and Dad had their chairs, each boy had their chairs. We
had all three meals as a family. We had lights on the tractors, but they were never used. When we were done with
chores at night, we were done. It was family time after chores and every Sunday, regardless, we went to church.
We did milking and chores on Sunday. It had to be just about a disaster to have to work between chores. Today’s
day and age, it’s not like that anymore. It seems like everybody’s grabbing a snack and you’re working late at night
and the family was lost as agriculture evolved into a larger scale, I think.
Joe Bradley: I think economics demanded that.
Norman Patterson: The smaller margins required more.
Joe Bradley: You had less labor, more machinery, and less labor.
Robin Patterson, Sr. : That’s why farm families were large. You raised your own help. I can remember back years
when I first started baling hay, my kids were too small. I’d drive down town and there’d be a bunch of kids sitting on
the curb around town. “Hey, want to come out and help make hay this afternoon?” Usually you had to stop at one
or two corners and you’d have a car full, and go home and make hay. Of course, the boys always wanted to be
the ones to drive the tractor, but I never let them.
Norm Patterson: Another thing that happened on the family farm in our case, and I’m sureon most family farms.
You could do it back then. I don’t know if you could do it now. All six of us boys were allowed to go to college from
high school and Mom and Dad made it work. If we wanted to go to college, “You go. “
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Of course the tuition wasn’t as high as it is now.
Don Maas: Rich and I remembered when the canning company was going here in town and they had Jamaican
workers here. If they weren’t too busy, the Jamaicans would come out to the door, knocking. They were excellent
help. Dad would always give them a job, if we were haying or something. They would be the same as, well, in a
sense, it was better than getting some high school boys from town. These were strong, hardworking fellows that did
a good job. I don’t remember what the pay scale was, but I know it wasn’t out of line at all.
Jud Spooner: The Jamaican help at the canning company came to the high school and sang a cappella and it was
just great. It was just fantastic. I think there were four or five guys. It was just great.
Mel Janes: I can remember those Jamaicans, they used to come out, like you said. Right across the road, Dad
would cut the oats with the binder and had these rows of bundles. The Jamaicans were supposed to be stacking
them up. All of a sudden Dad looked over and here were these Jamaicans and they were grabbing a bundle and
running. They weren’t putting no shocks there. They were dragging them away. “There’s a darn pole cat in here
somewhere.” They were grabbing the bundles and running with them.
Rich Templeton: George Schroeder used to come and bale, with a smaller baler. My Dad chopped most of his
hay. As these Jamaicans had free time and at that time you didn’t pull a wagon, you dropped them on the ground.
He had an old ’35 Ford truck with a big bed on it. He’d prop me up on the seat and he’d go right down here, get
the truck just idling in super low. He’d be on the truck and there would be a Jamaican on each side popping these
bales on. They’d go up to the buildings and he’d back her up to the barn and they’d throw them off and stack
them and out we’d go again. We couldn’t remember their names real well, so one was Slim and one was Shorty.
Slim was a diver in Jamaica. He dove with explosives to blow sponge loose and that man could hold his breath so
long it was scary. The other guy was a butcher, in a store I guess, or maybe a slaughter house. Yet their wages
weren’t enough to compare to what they got here. It was just amazing that they traveled that distance to find work.
It was quite an experience the first time you had someone of that color working next to you. Friendly and nice! One
Christmas the folks got a big package in the mail. I can’t remember which one of them fellows sent it. It was canned
sweet corn on the cob in sealed tin jugs. Very thoughtful.
Mel Janes: We used to have Jamaicans hand pick the sweet corn and throw it into the wagon and haul the wagons
down town for the canning company.
Alvin Frances: Rich, do you recall if they came seasonally or if they lived here?
Rich Templeton. Oh, no, they came just seasonally. I know Dad had those two. They would stand on the corner
up town and wait for Dad to come and pick them up. They didn’t walk out as far as us. They would stand on the
corner and say, “I’m waiting for Pete Templeton,” “I’m waiting for Pete Templeton,” if people asked them something.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: Some of you remember after the Second World War they had German POWS working down
here at the canning company.
Joe Bradley: I know Dad had a whole bunch of them working during the war.
Robin Patterson, Sr. : They picked the corn by hand then and threw it into the wagons or trucks and into the
canning factory they would go with it.
Howard Krueger: You talk about picking corn by hand. Joe Borders, when he was a young man, he worked for his
father-in-law. They picked corn by hand. They had two teams of horses. They started out even picking corn and
before long Joe had picked so much corn that he had come all the way around and his horses were eating out of
the grain box of his father-in-law. That didn’t go over very big. He could really work.
Mel Janes: I remember one time Harlan Hermanson said, “I’m going to get Joe excited, you know.” Spring was just
coming on. Nobody was out in the field yet. So Harlan Hermanson hooked up his tractor and drove up by Joe’s
place. Joe got all excited, “Man, man, I’ve got to get going.”
Joe Bradley: Talk about a funny story of Joe and Jeanette. On the farm that’s out there, before it was expanded, it
was just a square house, with four equal roofs, with a chimney coming out of the top. Coming home from church, or
something, Mother had made a comment to Dad. We were in the back seat and quite young. The Borders had just
got a television. They had put an antenna on that roof that went up in the air. Mother makes the comment to Dad,
“It looks like a stork catcher to me.” About a week or two later, the folks are going someplace, so they dropped us
off at the Border’s, to have them watch us. One of us spouted up and said, “Mom says it looks like you got a stork
catcher on the roof.” It didn’t go over too good. You can just imagine Joe.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: When Joe Borders first came to this area, he was a hired man for our next door neighbor,
Jobie Miles, if you remember them. Uncle Jobie and Aunt Sarah we always called them, although they weren’t
relatives. Joe brought a bronco with him and he rode that horse all over. Boy, he’d come tearing down to our place
and the horse wouldn’t even stop and he’d vault right over the fence and across the road. He was a wild one.
Dave Fellows: Joe and a fellow by the name of Delaine Batson, and two other fellows from Arkansas, they were all
Arkies. They were all penniless and came here in the mid-30s, I’m not kidding, with a stick over their shoulder, with
a bandana holding all of their possessions. They went around trying to find jobs. I know my Dad hired Delaine
Batson. Joe went out there west of town and ended up back here on Gablers and marrying the Gabler’s daughter.
The other fellow went down near Rockton and got a job. Then the fourth one I’ve lost touch on. I’m trying to
remember to put that in my writings that I’m putting together now about farm history. Delaine was a great musician
and he could play both a fiddle and a guitar. Those guys would come to our place on Friday night, I guess it was. I
guess they went to town on Saturday night. They’d have a hoe down and boy, I’ll tell you, that was more fun for us
as a family to watch those four guys, these Arkies, with their heavy accents and that music that Delaine would
produce. It was really funny. They’d play “Turkey in the Straw” was one of the numbers, I remember. They’d sing
too. They were all pretty good singers. Then we’d get into the groove and start learning the words to the songs
they were singing. It was fun. It was in the late ‘30s.
[Note: Delaine Batson was a first cousin of Joe Borders. Delaine worked for the farmers, Earl & Roy Fellows. Joe
came up here first and Delaine came later. Joe went out and worked for Jobie Miles and then came and worked for
my dad. That’s how we met and we married and then we farmed. They came from Piggott, Arkansas. Herschel
Simpson also came from the same area and worked for Leo Decker. Delaine and three of his brothers were on a
ship in Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked. All survived. Thanks to Jeanette Borders for the information. ]
Mel Janes : I can remember in those years, a big Sunday afternoon, Dad would bribe us: “Get the chores done
and then we’ll make some ice cream.” That was the old hand cranked ice cream makers. So we had to go out and
chop ice off the tank or off the eaves of the barn to get enough ice and they’d pack it in there. Then the kids had to
crank that for so long and make this old hand-cranked ice cream. Boy, that was the best ice cream you’d ever get.
Robin Patterson, Sr.: That was good ice cream too. We used to make ice cream.
John Ehle: Well we are at our destination. It is shortly after 4 and it has been a great afternoon. I want to thank
Standing, l to r: Candance, Kathy,
Ardith, and Joe
Franklin Bradley on tractor
Joe Bradley and pigs