Farms may change, families never do

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Farms may change, families never do


Becky Walz
News Editor


“It is amazing how my parents took every hard knock as it came and just kept going,” said Dale Schrader, sitting in his kitchen and gazing out at the farmland. “They had no problem with dirt under their nails and mud on their shoes from working the land.”

In August, the Schrader farm, 160 acres located a mile northeast of Maynard, was recognized as an Iowa Century Farm, one of many that has withstood many trials, tribulations, and disasters.

Dale’s father, John Friedrich Schrader, was born Nov. 24, 1886, to Mr. and Mrs. William Schrader in Center Township in Dubuque County.

At age 12, with his parents he came to Maynard where they resided on a farm southeast of the small rural town.

On April 26, 1911, he married Bertha Stoltz and after their marriage they moved to a farm northeast of Maynard, where they resided for two years.

To this union, four children were born, Mildred, Gladys, Lucille, and Dale.

In 1912, John and a group of approximately 20 other area farmers realized that they were receiving unfair prices for their livestock from local buyers.

As a result, they met to pool their money, and with legal advice, they organized a cooperative shipping association known as the Maynard Cooperative Commission Company on Oct. 19, 1912.

Before the cooperative, farmers were offered $5 for a cow by a local buyer, but after its organization, farmers began receiving checks for over $30 per animal.

On March 1, 1913, John and Bertha purchased 160 acres northwest of Maynard, paying $109 per acre.

Prior to taking possession, John worked up 20 acres in January 1913, with five horses and a two-bottom plow to get a head start on spring work under a gentlemen’s agreement.

The couple worked side-by-side cultivating their farm, but always enjoyed a break from the farm to take part in the Maynard Gala Days.

One year, John even took a colt into the town show and placed. Meanwhile, Bertha didn’t fare too well as she lost her gold watch and it was never found.

Tragedy struck the family May 15, 1928, when the family home burned down.

Until the new house was built, the Schrader family lived in the granary and ate their meals in the woodshed.

Later that same year, the new house was reconstructed with the help of neighbors, family, and friends.

Meanwhile, John continued to serve on the Maynard Cooperative board until 1930.

During the Dust Bowl of 1934, John removed the linoleum from the kitchen floor in the family’s home and placed it on the grain binder reel to help feed the crops into the binder.

There 21 farms within the threshing ring, and working together all 21 farms were complete in three and a half days, using a 3660 Red River special threshing machine powered by a steam engine.

In 1936, tragedy struck the Schrader farm again as a tornado swallowed the barn, machine shed, chicken house, and corncrib. The devastating storm left only the house, woodshed and hog house.

The windmill had fallen onto the roof of the garage, holding it down and saving it from the destruction.

Dale recalled how a 14-foot piece of roof sheeting with shingles still on it was driven into the side of the house, and two pieces of straw and a shingle nail were driven into the kitchen window frame.

Neighbors and family members came from miles around and helped the family build the machine shed to milk the cows and house the horses until the barn was reconstructed.

Growing up on the farm, Dale recalls his parents working the land side by side.

“But when supper came, Mother always had a meal on the table,” noted Dale. “My uncle Ed always said he didn’t know how she did it.”

In the years to come, the barn and corncrib were rebuilt as the Schrader family could afford them, and in 1942, a new granary was built.

As the youngest child and only boy, Dale and his parents milked the 15 dairy cows by hand every morning and night.

“We each milked five cows,” said Dale. “I also recall picking up corn cobs to burn when I was younger yet. They built a quick fire for Mother to cook with.”

Three of the Schrader children were also married in 1942: Gladys in January, Lucille in June, and Dale in October.

While John and and Bertha continued to live on the main floor of the family home, Dale and his new bride, Ortha Jean (Bartels), moved into the upstairs of the Schrader home as Dale helped with the farming operation.

The addition of electricity came in 1944 during the war.

“That changed a lot of things, as many more modern conveniences became available,” acknowledged the father to four. “Dad wanted to wire everything on the farm.”

The family began growing in 1946 with the birth of Dale and Ortha’s first two children, JoAnne Gayle in 1946 and LaVern Dale in 1949. In 1951, Dale and Ortha purchased an acreage in Maynard and moved in 1951.

In 1952, LeWayn John joined the family and JoLynn Jayne was born in 1955.

Although Dale and Ortha lived in town, Dale continued to help John with the farming in addition to driving a truck.

On July 4, 1956, John purchased a house in Maynard and the couple moved to their new home. John had surgery on July 26, 1956, and died from complications four days later.

Bertha continued to live in the Maynard home on her own until she suffered a paralyzing stroke on May 30, 1958 and returned to the farm for care, until she died Sept. 25, 1958.

Dale inherited the farm on April 1, 1959, and bought his three sisters’ shares. He soon moved his wife and children back to the farm located one mile northwest of Maynard.

Dale and Ortha continued to make improvements to the farm as finances allowed, adding a cattle shed and grain bin in 1958, a hog house in 1962, and a silo with silo house and tiling in 1966.

In 1968, a tornado missed the farm by less than a mile as the Schrader family narrowly avoided destruction for a third time.

Dale had a Morton shed constructed on the farm in 1970, and in 1971 the dairy barn was converted into a farrowing house.

While in charge of the Schrader farm, Dale raised dairy cattle, beef, and hogs, and the children had approximately 10 sheep as FFA projects.

“At times, we had 1800 hogs that were farrow-to-finish in a year’s time,” said Dale. “That was a lot of animals in that day.”

He also grew corn, beans, oats, and alfalfa.

With a love of farming and all that goes with it, LeWayn John took a position at the Maynard Cooperative Company, the same co-op his grandfather helped start, from 1971 to 1976.

LeWayn’s sister JoLynn took a position there as well in 1980, and after 33 years she is still employed at the cooperative.

After leaving the co-op in 1976, LeWayn John began farming with his father, Dale, and by 1978 another steel bin was erected, as well as a hog finishing unit in 1979.

In 1988, Dale chose early retirement, but he and Ortha remained on the farm to assist LeWayn John in the farming operation whenever they could.

Until his heart surgery in February 2003, Dale continued to plant crops; he also operated the combine and hauled loads during harvest. At 88, he still continues to combine.

Ortha pitched in and did a great share of the labor as well, as she worked the ground ahead of the planter and could also be found assisting with the fall tillage work. She hauled loads of corn to town as well as loads home to the dryer.

As her arthritis worsened, she had difficulty getting on and off the tractor and chose to watch the dryer while LeWayn John hauled in the loads from the field.

On Jan. 18, 2009, Ortha lost her battle with cancer.

Dale and daughter JoLynn continue to live on the family farm and help LeWayn John wherever they can; LeWayn lives on another 160 acre farm the Schraders purchased in 1980 several miles away.

With John and Bertha’s hard work, the 160-acre farm has become a place to treasure family values and a good work ethic. Also valued on the family farm are five trees, Dale’s sister, Lucille, won in a 4-H contest in her younger days.

Today, LeWayn has approximately 35 head of stock cows and grows corn and beans.

The family farm holds fond memories of John and Bertha, their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren growing up.

The farm has seen many changes over the years, but one thing hasn’t changed. It’s still a great place to live and raise a family.

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