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Castle Rock family's home is named a 2012 Century Farm

Jon and Andrea Kuhn are raising their family, including daughter Brynely and their "little sprout" due in July, on the Kuhn family farm in Castle Rock. Their farm was recently added to the list of Minnesota Century Farms.

Little Brynley Kuhn is still a toddler, but she's definitely got farming in her blood.

It could be because, in her very young age, she's known nothing but the farming life. After all, she comes from a long line of farming. So long, in fact, that the Kuhn family's 160-acre farm in Castle Rock Township has been added to the list of Minnesota Century Farms.

Her family has lived on the same farm since her great-great-great grandparents, Philip and Susanna Kuhn, bought the property from Joseph Batson and W.F. Jane in 1912. Her dad, Jonathan Kuhn, knows all these details because he's the one who filled out the application to be recognized as a Century Farm in 2012.

When Philip and Susanna purchased the site, a farm house stood down below a hill on the property. The farm house was built in 1890. In 1913, the first addition was built on, Jon Kuhn said. It wasn't until 1965 that indoor plumbing was installed, though.

According to Jon, Philip's son George and his wife, Rose, took over the farm from the elder Kuhn. Rose continued to own the farm after George's death. Eventually, their son, Norbert Kuhn Sr., and his wife, Mildred, purchased the farm. That's where Jon's father, Norbert Kuhn Jr., and his brother, Kenneth, grew up. Kenneth Kuhn bought the farm in the early 1980s, but when he died in 1984, the farm went back to Mildred and Norbert Sr.

Norbert Jr., had bought adjacent property, and both Jonathan and his dad helped with the family-owned property when necessary. When Norbert Sr. died in 2002, Jon bought the family farm.

That may all sound like a long and confusing history, but those are details Jon had to sift through as part of the Century Farm application, which he submitted earlier this year.

The Century Farm program is a project of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and the Minnesota State Fair. It is designed to honor families who have owned their farms for at least 100 years. In order to qualify for the honor, the farms have to be at least 50 acres in size and be involved in agricultural production.

Jon Kuhn knew his family had held the land for a long time, but it took a trip to Dakota County offices to look up the abstract to find out just how long. He'd seen stories in newspapers about other Century Farms, and thought he'd like to apply for his property, too. The only thing was, he had to wait until 2012 - 100 years after Philip and Susanna bought the property.

"The chances of many families own their property for 100 years doesn't happen very often," he said. "It's interesting to see how many families do make it this far. You see a lot of them selling farms that were in their families for 75, 85 years."

According to the Minnesota Farm Bureau's Century Farm qualifications, only 8,000 family farms have been designated as Century Farms since the program began in 1976. Annually, about 250 family farms earn the distinction.

Life on the farm

Growing up, Jon pretty much knew he belonged on the farm. His older brother chose to go to college. As kids, when his brother played video games, Jon found himself bored. He needed to do something. So he'd head outside and shovel manure.

"I guess it's the farmer in me," he said. "With farming, you can go out and work and see the progress you make. You can walk away and feel like you accomplished something. Sitting behind a desk wouldn't work for me."

Jon and his dad still farm the area. Actually, his father owns two pieces of adjacent land, but Jon is reluctant to say just how many acres they farm in full. Together, they raise soybeans, corn and alfalfa. They also finish steers on Jon's property. He's not sure what his predecessors grew in the fields, but he remembers his grandfather having dairy cows.

A few years ago, Jon got married to his wife, Andrea. They had a new house built on top of the hill on their property. In mid-April of this year, they offered up the old 1890 farm house to the Randolph and Hampton fire departments for a training house. The training ended with the house being burned to the ground.

The funny thing, Andrea said, was that even with all the fire trucks and the firefighters coming and going from their homestead, little Brynley had no interest in what was going on. While everyone else watched the fire drills, Brynley instead kept turning to wave at the cows.

"She kept saying, 'Mama, Mama. Barn. Cows. Mama. Barn. Cows.' She was all excited about the cows in the barn," Andrea said. "She's all farm girl."

Another of Brynley's favorite activities is to ride on the tractor with her dad. Jon installed a buddy seat so she could ride along. That usually works alright, but on occasion, she falls asleep while riding.

Jon and Andrea are expecting their second child, "the little farmer sprout," as Andrea said, in July.

Come August, they'll head to the Minnesota State Fair to receive their Century Farm commemorative sign and a certificate signed by the president of the state fair, the president of the Minnesota Farm Bureau and Gov. Mark Dayton.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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