These photos were taken for a magazine article on my Uncle Karl Krueger and my mother, Ellie Krueger Larson, back in 1974. There were a few articles about my mother because being a pretty, young woman working on a farm was a novelty that made for a good “human interest” story. There’s a lot I could write about the subject, but suffice to say that my mother was anything but a novelty. She could handle herself with any piece of farm machinery, and came to basically dominate the beef cattle industry in a way that no woman ever had. In many of my childhood memories she is tan, driving a tractor, and covered with silage dust, tractor grease, and cow manure.
These photos show the farm where I grew up. 3427 Bohn Rd. in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. At the time it was owned by my grandparents, Lloyd and Norma Krueger, and they ran it with my mom and my uncle. It was a beautiful farm, and these photos capture it very well. It will always be where my heart is, no matter where I live and no matter how old I get. Many thanks to my cousin, Brooks Craig Rickard, who passed these copies along to me after my Grandfather died. You can click on them to see an enlarged version.
The first photo, a panorama, shows a beautiful view of the farm. You can see the farmhouse, which my grandfather and others restored, and the metal “pole barn”, which my grandfather built. Some of my earliest childhood memories involve helping him put the sheet-metal on the roof, and watching others working on it with him. On the far right is the old hay-barn, silo and milk-house, which dated from the late 1800s. That barn was one of the first places I ever played music with a band. We used to rehearse there. The small willow tree in the yard grew to be a giant monstrosity by the time we moved away around 1987.
Everything in this photo has been destroyed. My grandfather sold the farm to a madman who has made it his life’s work to turn the beautiful land into a junkyard. The farm as it existed is no more, so I cherish this photo which captures its beauty perfectly.
When my grandfather bought the land in the late 1960’s he intended to rip down the farmhouse (which was a garbage pit by then) and build a modern home there. During the demolition process they discovered an original log cabin inside the walls of the farmhouse. It likely dated to the mid 1800’s, and was constructed of huge oak logs, rough-hewn to create the walls and chinked to seal the cracks. He couldn’t bring himself to tear it down, so they gutted the house and built around the log cabin. One of the exposed log walls ran through the entire house giving it an incredible rustic feel. He also installed a spiral staircase to the upper level where three bedrooms were, replacing the steep, ladder-like staircase which used to lead there. In this photo you can see my grandmother, my mother, and my sister Victoria (peeking from between the steps) sitting on the spiral staircase in the hallway with the log-cabin wall behind them.
Finally, this photo shows my mother and my Uncle on the old 706 Farmall tractor, heading up the field road to the “top of the farm” where the crops were raised. The farm was an idyllic place, which had ponds, streams, fields, deep forests, beautiful limestone cliffs and caves, trails, and all the wildlife you could imagine. I was very lucky that I got to grow up there.