GARDEN CITY, Minn. – South of Mankato, it was once known as “Round Barn Farm.”
That’s because the farm featured a barn that was designed by the University of Minnesota. It was a demonstration barn and a technological wonder in the day — two rings of stanchions on the main floor, and a parlor on the floor and a silo up the middle. The hay was on the upstairs and you could drive a wagon into it to unload hay, for gravity feeding. But the barn went unused and was torn down in1988.
I knew nothing of the barn when I drove by on U.S. Highway 169. It was the impressive windows on the house that drew me in.
“The house was built in 1913,” explained Bert Fleming, who lives on the place his family has been involved with for more than 100 years. Fleming works in the agricultural plumbing and sanitation industry. He lives on the locally-famous farmstead today and rents out the land to neighbors.
He explains that the Fleming family “went broke” building the farmstead, initially, and had to sell it. They repurchased it in the 1930s, or so the story goes. One can only imagine how the whipsaw of economic forces in those days influenced all of this.
The house has five bedrooms upstairs and a third floor attic floor which once had three additional finished bedrooms “for the boys.”
“There’s 106 windows in the house, counting four that you can’t see,” Fleming says. Most apparent is a three-side, windowed wrap-around porch, on the east, south and west. The south side of the house includes 24 double-hung windows and a door, while the west and east end each have a dozen windows. The interior dimensions of the longer south side of the house is about 65 feet. “I graduated high school in 1975 and that was my summer job, to paint 57 windows,” Fleming says. “That was a job – took me all summer.”
Fleming’s daughter, Ann, is a nurse in the Twin Cities and recently moved into the house with her husband, who works in the petroleum industry. She has German shorthair pointer dogs and the place has been fitted with a horse facility to help train the dogs.
Fleming still takes great interest in the area’s crops. The area was lucky this summer because it didn’t get the excessive rain that farmers ten miles away received, allowing crops to be planted on time. Fleming says the crops look good in mid-August. Corn tassels and silks seemed to get timely shots of rain. “Things look like they should get a really good yield here,” Fleming says.
For more CropStop interviews from central Minnesota, look to the Aug. 19 issue of Agweek, or go on-line to www.agweek.com