MPR’s Mark Steil presents the documentary "Chanarambie Township: Sections 17, 18, 19, and 20," which explores how farmers in a four-square mile area of Murray County view the farm crisis. Includes various interviews, music, and sounds. Documentary was winner of the prestigious Ohio State Award.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:35) It's springtime Springtime in southwest Minnesota. I time for rural families to turn the Fertile Earth and sow the seeds for yet another Bountiful Harvest. But a centuries-old tradition is in trouble for many the bottom is falling out. They are victims of a rural economy bursting at the seams. Jenna Ramba Township section 17 18 19 and 20 is a four square mile area in southwest Minnesota is Murray County an area visited earlier this year by reporter Mark Style. So this report could have been produced in any number of Rural townships. This is the story of a group of minnesotans touched by economic conditions beyond their control. This is Jana rambi Township section, 17 18 19 and 20. An afternoon in late winter enchanter am be Township to the east bright sunlight reflects off the snow on Buffalo Ridge Rising more than 400 feet above the surrounding Prairie the gravel road. See only an occasional pick up our car. Some of the Less Traveled roads are drifted shut for the winter. This is dairy farm country 400 acres is about the average size. Some of the farmers have new homes the others have the usual Midwest style Farm Home dating from the first third of the century. Most of the people in this part of western Murray County have a Dutch or German Heritage their conservative and known for their perseverance. This report concerned seven families living in the western part of China rambi Township for square mile area bordered on the North by Highway 30 and on the west by Pipestone County sections, 17 18 19 and 20. This area was chosen because it roughly centers on the home Farm of Marlon boots mama who serves as driver and commentator in this report. It was his comments which provided the basic idea for the program take a definite geographic area talk to all the farmers living there and try to gain some understanding of the depth of what's being called the farm crisis instead of randomly interviewing Farmers, which tends to focus on Extremes in the farm situation. The goal here is to sample an area to average the experiences of those living (00:04:08) there. My name is Marlon boots mama. (00:04:24) I live on on a (00:04:25) farm in chanter a me Township Murray County and we're (00:04:29) a mile from Pipestone County here. (00:04:31) I was talking to Mark here. And I guess I kind of challenged him that around our area there are no Farmers that don't owe money. We're all in debt some worse than others some not very bad at all. But we're all trying to make a living and I told him that we could go out and take a ride in the interview my (00:04:53) neighbors. (00:05:09) Right now besides being a farmer. I work with a friend of mine and he has a feed business and I'm one of his salesman and I service the it's Dairy and hog accounts in this particular area, and he's actually from Pipestone and I kind of take care of he's in Pipestone County. I'm on this and the Murray County as we're driving. Down this road. We have to the south of me lays a quarter section that I farm into the north lays and 80 acres that I farm. This was part of the ground that I purchased the 1979. It was a Slinger state. It was in the Slinger family for I believe. I'm not exactly sure but I think 70 some years and right now we're headed north and okay, we're going to go to add manderscheid now Ed manderscheid. He's had farm sale and his son is now farming in his debt. And I'll tell you the agriculture has changed so much in the last it's kind of hard for us to keep track of where everybody's gone. We're losing all the people out of this area if they're not if they're not if they are staying around they're getting jobs. I think the main thing with with Farmers ours, they're almost getting like they're numb. That's a sad deal. We're probably the backbone of America where the I don't know. I like to say were the foundation all it started out years ago. This whole country was especially in our area was made prosperous by farmers are towns grew up around the farm community and now instead of carrying the The thing along like we used to we're all out of money and slowly on the towns are drying up and like we have Laverne to the South and Laverne. I don't know just had six or seven stores closed again. And it's it's been that way Pipestone zag stores closing and and it's Rural America on a hole Okay, now we're going to turn and we're going to turn in a farm place and if it's on the west side of the road and it's add in rows manderscheid is who lives here and their son Danny is now farming the The Farmstead. Hello Rose. Kind of cold out today, isn't it? (00:08:31) The manderscheid farm is on the western flank of Buffalo Ridge Chana rambi Township section 17 in what's becoming a pattern for many farmers strapped with debt. It is now a part-time farmer he auctioned off most of his equipment three years ago after reaching a peak of farming 1,100 Acres. He still owns 240 acres which he Farms along with his duties as a crop hail and multi-peril insurance adjuster roles also works part-time their son. Danny has farmed 480 Acres of the past three years, but since November has worked in Texas it man - I'd says he's encouraged Danny to stay in Texas and get out of farming. He says there's no future for young people in agriculture edin roles are in their early 50s with just a hint of a smile at says he was an old-fashioned farmer one who thought of it as a way of life. Before the sale till the last couple of years. We lived a pretty damn good life. Until things got tough and since the sale, it seems like when you're down and out, it's hard to come back. We live a good life, but financially were in a bind all the time. This is really be just plain figure you was a failure, but then at the time it happened to me, I was not the first but it was kind of the beginning of this thing since I've seen a lot of guys having the same problem. You do feel a little more confident in yourself that it wasn't failure. It was just well. I got a son the insurance business needs his daddy was just caught in the times you had too much money borrowed at the wrong time. So that's the way I've accepted it, but it's hard to come back when we were farming wholeheartedly. Our whole family worked at it. We have seven kids and at that time the four oldest ones were all helping us. They get up in the morning at 5:30 before they went to school and would milk 80 cows and we had a herd of stock hose. We also raise lot of Pigs and the minute they get home from school at night. I had lunch ready for when they were upstairs to change the clothes and down here and and work until we never ate supper before 6:30 7 o'clock at night. We had a I would call him a neighbor. They lived eight miles from us a very good friend of ours that took his life here some time ago, and I understand he visited her his wife wanted him to visit with his brothers, and he wouldn't discuss this problem. And after the traumatic experience of this type, it makes you think back when I had my sale. We went back to like I told you hypertension blood pressure and tranquilizer pills. And until I really started talking with people after a year and a half or two years did I realize that you got to get this stuff out of your system the first few years that we started losing money. We sat back and thought hey, maybe we should you know quit farming, but that's something we've done all our life and it was really hard. Just throw that away. But yet you saw how you worked all your life. And you saw that every year you was losing like $25,000. So we said hey, maybe we should quit but at that time it was like 47 48 years old and he said well, it's too early to retire. He said, what would I do? I farmed all my life. I have no other occupation and I guess we found out since and that there is a life after farming that if you put your mind to it you can do other things. I work with a lot of farmers. In fact, that's all I work with. Any economy is a main subject and I there's several Farmers. I know and Jackson Marie and Pipestone County that discuss their financial problems with me plus neighbors and I advise them jump out while you're ahead. Don't fight it because you're only going to go backwards more and I don't think you'll see many guys have pulled out of a bad situation. You just got to dissolve and start over. We got a next door neighbor the other day. I gave him a handful of tranquilizer pills and he's going through the same problem. I told him take these and try and ease your nerves a little I guess a lot of them sympathize with me because I was one of the first ones face with it. You know, you thought maybe you were a failure you screwed up. And that's about first thing they all tell me. I know now how you felt and you tell me I but how I feel are you feel don't make no difference you got to put your house in order and if you can't get money to farm get the hell out before you lose everything you got. (00:13:10) It seems like every year the ground gets rented and but more and more of its going to federal land bank and like in my own particular case. I don't believe it's worth trying to hang on anymore. I'm going to try to Turn my farm back to federal land bank. I'm going to try to rent them Brent ground from them because at 12 and three quarter percent interest and the no prop the way it looks like Farm. He's going to continue to be no longer my going to be able to continue to own my own farm and I'm going to be go from being an owner back to a renter. I looking at the ground and how hard I worked on it since I've lived here. There's an old set of buildings that I tore down and we tour The Grove out. We pulled all the routes and we rocked it all and we turn some of the the ground back into production trying to make it a more profitable scene and we fixed it up. We worked hard. I just hope bedroll and break it enjoys all my improvements because they're the ones that are going to get it back. So, you know, we love farming. I mean if anybody denies that they'd have to be lying but you get out there and you sit there and you try to just go back to the basic and that's why you're there because you love to put it in the ground and you love to watch it grow. You love to go out and harvest it and if you thought real deeply about this while you were doing it and kept thinking to yourself, you know, I'm doing this on a loss and and I probably won't make no money in and maybe I can't eat me. To combine payment on the combine that I'm sitting in it's a depressing you can't hardly stand it. So after a while you kind of looks like you do it like you're kind of like your automatic. You just do it you get up in the morning and you tried just to forget the fan Financial in right now we're pulling up to Eugene should-- (00:15:35) The next stop is the dairy farm of Eugene and karla's shoulder and their three children chatter am be Township section 19 the shoals blue. Dairy barn house has 80 head Eugene also Farms 480 Acres, which supplies most of the feet for the herd Carla works in the nearby community of Chandler at a meat processing business Eugene is in his mid-30s a congenial host. He sits at the dining room table and puffs occasionally on a cigarette as he talks about his life in farming. I've got calls here and I enjoy going out and working with my cows. I enjoy working with crops. I enjoy the fresh air. It's getting to be a hassle when you got to go talk to your Banker once a month or once a week trying to get your loans renewed. He's pressuring you to. Cut Corners, there's no way that you can see to cut Corners anymore. You try. My wife's gone to town and taking on a job. It's a it's an uphill battle. And well, I probably noticed it more than anything else in November of this year when it was time to go in and renew my notes and my banker said hey, this don't look good. What are you going to do? What are we going to do your go? I'm in my wife sat down and I says if my banker ever said that we should sell out as we decide I says we're going to sell out we're not going to keep fighting but it came a little quick and I ain't going to quit that easy. I'm working with my banker and hopefully we'll get this renewed for one year and a half after one year things don't look any better than when I sit down and we analyze the whole situation. I guess probably the biggest thing that would make change your mind and not get up and walk away as when you sit down and you say to yourself and you go in and you give the bank of the facts. You've got X number of dollars worth of equity out there. And he says yeah, but we can only secure you for this month. And you sit down and you say to yourself? Well, hey, there's $100,000 at they're not going to give me Security on what is the purpose of this? Are they trying to rip me off? Are they trying to push me out of a agriculture? Are they just trying to cover their own mistake somewhere else in their organization if they sell me out and I can pay off my note and have let's say a $50,000. Am I willing to accept 50 thousand dollars from my banker? For the purposes of quitting farming and walking away or should I stick with this and make him stick with me and try and work this out maybe next year if this whole Market situation turns around if we can get the federal government aware of the fact that farmers are suffering. I can maybe walk away with $100,000 next year you just decide I guess in your own mind that something ain't right here. And I ain't right. I ain't willing to accept the fact that my banker says I'm worth less than I am. Sure, you've had a living over the years as long as you were farming, but if in my case I've been farming now for 10 years on my own me and my wife here if I could walk away with $50,000. That's $5,000 a year. We are an extravagant people. We don't have a lot of Furnishings a lot of clothes. We drive on older car and older pick up. It wouldn't be worth it to have suffered for 10 years for to walk away with that. I enjoy agriculture. I love it. If I didn't I wouldn't be farming today. I mean, it's been tough the last two three years. I know a few guys that got out three years ago. They got out in good shape. I'm an optimist. I think things are going to get better but The worst part of Agriculture today is going to talk to your bankers and they say hey cash flow cash flow generate more income. We've got to cut Corners. We've got to cut Corners as the farmer. We cut the corners. We generate more cash flow to repay. Our Bankers don't even have the courtesy a lot of times say thank you. It just the farmers suffering suffering through this whole ordeal alone right now and farming is a hassle that I wouldn't advise any young person to get involved with right now if it straightens out in the next few years and they're really interested. They can still get in. (00:20:35) I used to work for Tara spark Dairy and we used to work in the morning. We started five and we'd work till about all six o'clock at night. And then we had a shot me and my cousin Harlem and we take it over all car motors and this kind of stuff until about 1 o'clock at night and it's almost sounds like a guy's bragging but when I was young I just my grandpa always said you work hard you make money and I did I honestly did I made money I made money in town. And when I started farming on that on the rented Farm, I also mean money and I guess maybe I kind of almost assumed that I was doing a few things right because my net worth was pretty decent and things were going pretty good. And I thought now it's a it's a decent opportune time to buy a farm. So I thought I'll be I'll do it before it gets any higher where I can afford it the land at that time. This was in I'll be nine when I bought land was going extremely high. So we went out and bought it and it's I'll tell you in 1980 everything changed. It was like a hundred eighty degree turn. It's the Hogs got cheap in the green got cheap and some of its timing I'll have to say that the biggest mistake I would have to say is the fact that in trying to be modern maybe that I did that I and I will say this that I spent money. I invested it. I invested in a finishing house. There was no place to finish hogs on that place. So I invested in a finishing house and the farrowing house. I remodeled the gestation house. I remodeled I moved the nursery in to my place. We put a furnace in the house because it's a it's a large old house and it's quite cold. And we put new shingles on the house because the roof leaks so bad. So we did do that and I really think that I pretty well those pretty practical with my investments. I didn't overdo it. I tried to do it right without spending very much money. I used to believe that in America. This was the land of opportunity that the government kept their nose clean and they were honest and fair and now I believe that you can work as hard as you want to our do whatever you want to and if the government decides to ball it up it'll get balled up and you're going to take it on the chin and it does not matter what you do and now I look back and you say what would I have done different? I think a guy could have sat in the house looked out the window made just about as much money as we did working hard. Right now we stopped at M Ed and Brenda heard and Ed is a Dairy Farmer and he's third in Murray County for dhia which is our way of (00:23:55) measuring the amounts in the quality of cows. (00:24:28) It sounds like two whole crews out Barn doing chores. Oh, yeah. This is our Reagan pump. It's kind of like his his monetary policy and his foreign policy. It just pumps a bunch of minor out under the ground and puts it in. Somebody else's backyard. We'd like to run. Hey, give him a ride in this. Headin Brenda heard live in section 18 of China (00:25:13) rambi Township. They Farm 400 Acres milk 50 handed. The politics of Agriculture is a major discussion subject at the heard Farm. Brenda is active with the larouche Democrats. It says he's more aligned with the traditional Democrats. Their Farms identifier is the deep blue of their tall Harvest or silos at and Brenda work together in handling the farm chores and they're ready friendly adversaries when politics is a subject in their early 30s, the herds have three children. I'm in the same situation as a lot of guys that if we don't knock all down and and pay our interest plus a little principal the the whole thing is just going to keep snowballing and you know, the miracle of compound interest how that works. It just keep snowballing till you're worth nothing and you still got the debt besides there's a lot of farmers around here on food stamps and for people who grow the food that's kind of ridiculous and a lot of the, you know, households and stuff around here. They've just had to live Almost in poverty. Just keep going keep paying the bank. I got an 18 year old couch at sitting on two legs and I can't afford to buy a new one. You know, there isn't a woman in town that would live under the circumstances. My wife does if the chief of staff Don Regan came out here he did he'd have to bring I think three Marines the best Marines he's got to get my work done because I know he couldn't do it. Just to do chores. It takes about 10 hours a day. Now that's that's not figuring any time for the guy that during the time of year that we spend in the field time that you would spend graining feed or other odd chores. I'm just talking about just the milking the feeding things we do every day that we have to do. You know. If we get a sun couple hours off on a Sunday afternoon, that's that's considered a vacation. It's been three years four years since we had a vacation on it. And that would be a two-day trip up to visit a friend of ours. I'm with the Lyndon larouche Democrats National Democratic policy communities. What I like is about part is he's the only one who has a policy a plan of what it's going to take this country to get out of the depression that it's in his back to production just like they did when they had a war they started producing and that's you know, put people back to work of people are back to work. They can pay their taxes. That's how we could play yard at national debt. I do follow the larouche program and I think it's a good program. It's just that I think it leaks a little water here and there for one thing. He claims that when you put this money out at two to four percent that it's not going to be inflationary and I know human greed and capitalism well enough to know that it's it's going to be inflationary. The corporations have everything tied up that we use. They've got the price of the parts. They've got the price of the tires the gas the fertilizer the you name it they control it. The price of the groceries is controlled at the other end because they own General Foods, you know, you name it down on that end and you look at a box of Cheerios how much a box of Cheerios cost? You should be getting 60 70 dollars a bushel for your oats at the price of food. One of the farm magazines claimed that when they change the value of the dollar like they did in September that it takes a year for that too Shockwave to go through the economy. I don't buy that so they're they're projecting a turnaround in grain prices within a year of you know, like this this coming September in that amount of time. I can't see any movement that direction and and I don't think there will be unless the government changes its position on the trade deficit and it's Budget deficit. Well, it's going to have to happen or they're just going to keep playing this ball game till they break it like they did in the (00:29:32) 30s. We used to be so terrible proud and nowadays. We have some farmers who are living on food stamps. And can you imagine how that it feel to supply the world's food and then have to have to give you groceries back and we got some of the people get fuel assistance and it's to the stage in the game right now where we can't even if we had a have them bring out fuel without fuel systems some of the people in the neighborhood and in our farm community wouldn't even get fuel because of the fact that it's cash on the barrelhead and we don't have the cash to buy it. So I guess our pride is getting pretty well shot up for myself personally. I was terrible proud. You don't what I had a farm sale. I had a farm sale June 14th. That's when you Prides got to stop. I guide my wife was crying and I guess if I had to sit there and watch how sad she wasn't in myself. I was terrible sad and that was hard because I stood on my farm place and I watched the equipment that I had paid been paying on and working to get for 10 years. I watched it all go down the driveway and I watched other people hook onto it and put a pin in it knowing that it was going to go to all different parts of the country. And I guess that day on I figured my pride was pretty well gone because they it was stripped from me. Maybe it's maybe it was evil that a man had Prides of pride in the thing that he worked for but we had go holes in things that we work for and through no choice of our own we got them taken away from us. Right now we're driving up to ah supports. This is my closest neighbor. Bob is a hardworking person. I say that because the first couple years. I don't know. If as a year two years he worked in ibp and Laverne full-time and he farmed and he done this just so that he can get his feet on the ground a little bit and Bob's trying hard to make a life for him and his family on the (00:32:19) farm. Bob and baniyas afford are waiting the birth of their second child. Bonnie has been working in Chandler at the meat processor. Bob is the only farmer raising sheep in this four square mile section of chatter am be Township. He has 40 head. He also milks 30 cows and raises crops on 160 acres of land in section 20. He began full-time farming after his parents retired in 1982. The Ambani live in a mobile home next to the main house. Bob is in his early 30s. He says the only time he and Bonnie thought of leaving farming was in April of last year after two consecutive days of tornadoes the first hit the Asif heard Farm tearing off the top of the barn overturning sheds and turning some building sideways the next day 40 friends and neighbors helped clean up that night a second tornado blew through. I suffered watch The Funnel pass just to the east of the farm after four days of consideration. They decided to stay in farming his face frame by a wispy beard. Ah, Stafford says he's not regretted that decision. As a whole last two years for sure have been fairly decent we're surviving and that's about it right now, but is for payments to bank. And so we've met our payments in more or less just surviving without coming ahead a whole lot. The two main important moneymakers was is my sheep business the last two years and my wife has had to take a job off the farm to help make ends meet or the real two big factors. My dad always says that that she / mortgage lifters you get two crops you figure off into you, you know, you get the Lambs and then you get the wool. I've got 40 head of Suffolk and Suffolk cross use last year. For instance. I had a hundred eighty percent lamb crop often the use and the market Shoe is extremely good and you anytime you can get 75 or 80 dollars a head for a fat Lamb with your initial costs that you've got stuck into it. You can come up with a pretty good profit. Which last year I did. I cleared just about $50 a head profit above my you cost and feed cost on on the Sheep. I enjoyed out here a farming life is the best place I've seen growing up and best place to raise a family and I enjoy farming I always have really the main thing is, you know, the birth of life on the farm, you know, we call casts sheep, you know has Lambs or self arrows. You know what it's always a Wandering bringing new life, you know into the into the world more or less kind of makes you forget. You know, what what is happening in the world, you know in sit back and you on has put a smile on your face. Once again, I worked in town for several years before I started farming because there's no way that I could get started on my own, you know in my folks have helped out and in I've watched what I bought in. Got good deals, and I'm still surviving so far. Yeah, I'd like to continue to keep this, you know a family farm, you know, my grandfather moved here in 1914 and my dad he took over in early 40s and I've took over now in the early 80s and I'm hoping down the road that my son will be able to take over for me here to you know continuation of keeping the farm in the family, but you hear a lot of family farms that that are being lost anyhow, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm not going to give up. (00:36:30) You know, they they badmouth a lot of people for giving up but what I'll tell you what we're just like a I guess like a small dog if you walk up to the master so many times and every time you go there you're going to get kicked after a while. You won't even go up there because you'll realize that they calling you to pet you and that's just what it boiled down to farming has been so bad that everything that we've done. We got kicked for doing it and pretty soon. I guess I see farmers are becoming more and more bitter all the time. I guess maybe we we luck with almost a little jealousy. We see people in town Drive New four-wheel-drive pickups and we got old beaters. I mean, they're shot they Rattle and they shake and somebody says well what our Farmers doing about it? What are the farmers doing about it? Well, I guess it boils down to I told the story once I said, you know, it's like a farmer's like a prostitute in the cities. We're just we know where regardless of what we do. We're going to end up pardon the expression but we're going to get screwed doing it and you don't I don't think I'm a prostitute always enjoys sex, but it's just like she has to do it because she's got two choices either. She's not going to do it and her pimple beat her up. She'll end up doing it anyway, so after After a while, she quits complaining and she just kind of does it just like it's an automatic thing and I think maybe we as Farmers have been we realize that everything we've tried we've been beat up and pretty soon. We just kind of go about our daily lives and hope for the best and after a while. We quit complaining. We quit yelping because we got a deaf ear. Nobody nobody seems to listen to us anymore. The next stop that we're going to be making up here will be Schultz. This is Earl and Patch old. (00:39:03) The dairy farm of Earl and Pat's shoulder in their two children is in section 19 of China rambi Township about one mile west of Earl's brother Eugene Earl Farms. 440 Acres raising most of the feet. He needs for his 80 milk cows pad Works 310 our nights and Chandler at the meat processor. This is her schedule on work days. She's at the job from 7:00 in the evening until 5:30 the next morning following the nearly ten mile drive home. She sleeps an hour and a half and it's time to get her daughter off to school followed by an hour and a half of farm chores. The rest of the day is spent catching some sleep as possible in between the farm and house work which needs to be done - olds in their mid-30s both say their religion has been a source of strength in their effort to remain farmers. I think this is the greatest occupation raised in my book, you know, but it takes the fun out of you know, when you it's hard to meet the bills. It just takes the fun out of having to we're going to go out to milk the cows for the feed man. We got to go out there and get the calls for the tax guy or for the land payments George bait meet our other payments. It's not any fun anymore. I mean, whereas when we first started farming we had enough to live on in the house and there's just not enough to live on. No we used to like we used to go on different times. We'd go away on a little vacation last year. We had my husband had two days off from the whole Farm the whole year. We keep going like we are now we're gonna we're gonna be burned out another 10 15 years, you know, I mean, it just can't keep going away it is Each day you wake up. You pray a little bit. This is going to come on Lord. Help me through each day. If we keep busy and we don't think about it. We seem to keep keep up our up our strength around here. I mean that not that we're totally depressed. I think we were more depressed last year at this time about this Old Farm and situation now, it's just seems hey if we haven't got the money people are going to understand we're just got to keep hanging in here. We never really thought about discontinuity. But I mean it gets so bad. Sometimes you feel like pulling all your hair out and where am I going to get money for this and that, you know, and we are behind on some of our land payments and we are behind on our taxes are taxes. What does have them when the money comes we'll just pay him off or what is pay him a little bit by little bit until we've got enough to keep up the taxes on the farm payment for each year. I don't know it seemed like it's If you try hard enough, it's going to be there. We really expanded here back in 81 and 82 and we spent a lot of money which (00:41:37) I wish we had back in my pocket (00:41:40) but I mean like we wouldn't be having these big milk checks either if you know, we won't be having twice as many cows either. So I mean it kind of one offsets the other one, but I mean, I think we can be further ahead. If we want to done anything, you know just stayed where we would have been like C milk 1 string a cows, you know about 40 head you might say and raise all the stock and just would've been happy with that but we both enjoyed milking and without well we get more cows like everybody I you wanted to have more money. Oh, it looks good. So we expanded things are really tight and we try to jiggle the The bills around a little bit, you know on see if you can get one guy to hold off for a little while or something like that, you know, but it used to really bother us when we had a check bounced and if a cheque bounces now, well will say well we're sorry just ship it through again. Nothing we can do about it. Just tell the money comes in. The other day, I went down to Slayton applied for an FHA crop input Lon and I hope I get that perfect can come through will be sent pretty good for this spring and I hope we get a good crop or we can pay the FHA off this fall. We had some neighbors up the road here to that. They had been having a tough time and when things started getting rough here, we had coffee button. We sat and talked and oh, you're just sitting in the same seat as we what you are. Welcome. Welcome to the game. We're just going to struggle through this and this is just how each our neighbors have all felt about it. We had some friends of ours that this farmer went to drastic means and he shot himself and before it gets bad enough here that we're going to really let the farm get down and really depressed as we're just going to say Hey, you could have the fine we're going to walk away. But this is sometimes how you feel when the when everything just keeps piling up on you and Paula and up on you and piling up and you know that you get depressed and you think well we want to get out of it and that's not the always the easiest way out is to get rid of yourself. But before we do it, we're just going to say hey have the farm back. There's more to living just and unjust for this Farm. (00:44:15) You know what? You asked me a while back about Pride, you know there comes a time when you either you lose your pride or you can't take it and I think some of the I really feel sorry for the people that committed suicide because I'm going to be real honest. I don't think some of them could cope with the way things have went so terrible and they really have a Nike I feel for them because I know how low you can get because I've been low. I've been lower than a snake's belly and I think the biggest thing that personally keeps me going is the fact that first of all, I guess you don't somebody told me once you got to learn how to put your priorities first. There's God then there's your family and then there's everything else and I guess we have to take farming from number one and put it to three Where it really belongs because first of all there is God and I know that really this life that we live here. Is only for a short while and Eternity is forever and I believe in heaven and I believe that that someday I'll be there and me and my family with me. So I guess I put that important in the next thing is my family. My family's always stuck behind me. They've supported me and I guess we have a the love in the family that keeps keeps us going and then there's third there's the farm and I do love to farm and I hope that I'll continue to farm but I guess that I put it in the third position and that's where it always belonged. And if the only if only the one thing that was good about these tough times was that we got our priorities straightened out then maybe that that would be the only good point I can see from all these tough tough times is that I think most Farmers have got their priorities in order. (00:46:40) The final stop is the farm of Merlin Sharon heard chatter am be Township section 17 like his neighbor to the north Ed manderscheid heard has left full-time farming faced with mounting losses. He sold most of his farm equipment one year ago despite his trials. He's not bitter. It doesn't hold a grudge against anyone candidly admitting. He spent a little too much money on farm equipment and land. He still owns land his son pant Farms it now. (00:47:07) Oh, merle are you doing pretty good (00:47:10) heard is in his mid-50s. He has two children and he has the muscular build of a man who spent a lifetime as a farmer heard was a full-time Farmer for 30 years starting in 1954 pretty good years until 82 and then when it interest went up by then I had to pee that eighteen nineteen percent interest and after that then I lost money from then on the next three years with first-year about 30,000 a year that year and in the next year was forty-one thousand and then in 84y was 51,000. I done things wrong like a lot of guys. Did I bought a little more Machinery because my son wanted to fire my son-in-law wanted to farm and all it every time you buy that Machinery. It has to be paid for and there's interest on it. I used to have an old friend and Pipestone. I work for him when I was a kid. I was carry out grocery for this will Jewish fellow and he always told me he says if you get a dead horse you get off and that's just what I felt I had with his farm after those three years. So before I lost everything I had a farm sale this way I can hang on to the lamb. Nobody told me I had to quit farming I could have kept right on but I was afraid that eventually my lender would say we need a mortgage on a farm and I did not want that. So before he ever got any idea doing that I quit. My banker and and the old Banker that was before him set in a room for four hours. They tried to convince me not to quit farming, but when I got done and I sister this old retired Banker, what would you do if you was in my place? He says I do the same thing you're doing. He says I quit too. Best decision I made in my life. Mr. Quit farming on because I still have the home place which my dad bought and 1938 and that'll still stay in the family this way drove truck last year and and Then after that kind of let up and along and August why then I took my oldie a caterpillar that I still have with the Dozer and I went and done some work in this disaster area where the tornado went through after that the neighbors down here. We're going to build a new Dairy Barn. I helped work on that and then I done they're plowing in they're cutting their silage and I picked their corn when the ground it in the saddle easiest year I ever had working for somebody else. Lots of times. I drove truck clear to Philadelphia and bank, but that's easier on the Constitution and farming. Get out quick while you got what you got left. If you can salvage anything get out of it. Because there's no future in it the way this new Farm program. I always figured anybody borrowed money should pay it back regardless how you done it you should pay it back and I I still feel that but there's so many of these young Farmers that got caught in a squeeze they bought this land when I was little too high and it looked good at the time Bankers told him go ahead do it all in lending agents told him to go ahead and do it. But then when it's high Interest come a long way if they raised see a man had a half section, he'd bought it around a thousand bucks an acre and they raised that interest to percent on him that would raise use in his interest payment $7,000. On that deal. Well, that was his living. This is they they just utterly took his living with her. Those kind of cases way. I feel they should be helped some way a little bit, you know because I don't think we're at the bottom yet until these farmers get a lower interest and better prices. There's no future for any of them. The ones that are in fairly decent shape will get him where shape and the ones that are in worship. Well, they're gone. Eventually with these prices and that these churches schools and even the whole little towns are going to be gone because there's going to be no kids. (00:52:03) I'm looking at a place where a guy moved on to this place and he took and you fixed it up and he worked real hard on this place. He took and he moved it Old Barn in and he tried not to spend too much money on it. He's got the bottom half painted. He ran out of money. So he didn't get the peak painted but the bottoms white the top don't have any paint but one of these days he'll get that done. I know he will and over there is a gestation house. And I know for a fact that was 16 degrees below zero heat end that just station house and he got that fixed up pretty decent over to the South here. There's a fair owing house. He spent one winner of his spare time working in there and he fix that up the best. He could Straight Ahead. There's a little well, it's a shot now. It used to be a little Barn. He took that and he drugged it over on a bunch of telephone poles and he sat on a sment slab and he threw his the roofs got (00:53:09) holes in it. You can looks (00:53:12) like when it was a barn the squirrels must shoot holes in the shingles, but I know I know the guy pretty good and he's going to get that shingled someday and to the north here, there's a house and it needs paint bad, but it's got a new shingles job on it him and him and the neighbors and his brother-in-law they they shingled that so didn't leak so bad but it's got good shingles, but it sure could use a paint job that old barn. I was telling you about that was kind of neighborhood project when they he moved that in there the neighbors all came down and the cows were were sitting in the yard and horse trailers and he didn't even have the stanchions in the barn yet, but the neighbors all came down pitched in and they put the stanchions in the barn and and they was Knocking on one side and put and still build and stanchions on the other side. And this guy here. I know him real good because this is me and I look at this and I see six years of my life invested and I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know whether I'll be here in a year. I don't know if I'll be here in two years and I look back and I see the memories of all the work I've done and I guess it's it makes me feel kind of bad because the fact that my life and (00:54:31) don't hold no certainty to it (00:54:33) whatsoever. (00:54:47) Winter is a time of assessment in section, 17 18 19 and 20 of Chana rambi Township family is review their year in sit down with lenders and creditors to plan for the upcoming growing season. Spring is the season of Fresh Starts the farmers in China rambi Township watch for it with the same optimism as people everywhere for most of us. The green grass means we've survived another winter for the chanter am be farmers who watch the last snow melt off Buffalo Ridge Spring means they've made it through another difficult economic year and as with thousands of other family farmers in Minnesota that it's time for the real work to begin. (00:55:58) Jana rambi Township section 17 18 19 and 20 (00:56:17) written and produced by Mark Style production of this program was made possible by a grant from the auto Bremer Foundation.