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Fourth generation living on Cory ‘Century Farm’

By Staff | Jun 29, 2009

“It’s not a lifestyle for everyone. It’s hard work. It’s a respect of the land and our family and heritage that is now entrusted to us,” says Susan Cory.

The Cory family farm, located near Easton, is one of 114 farms recognized in 2009 by the Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau. It qualifies as a Century Farm because it has been in continuous family ownership since 1879. Presently, the farm, located in Walnut Lake Township, consists of 120 acres.

Realizing their property met Century Farm standards, Michael encouraged his sister, Susan, to send in an application this spring and see what would happen.

“It was a real honor to be recognized for this agricultural heritage program,” says the fourth generation Cory upon notification they had met the requirements. As Century Farm award recipients, the family will receive an outdoor sign designating their farm as a ‘Century Farm’ as well as a certificate signed by the governor of Minnesota and presidents of the Farm Bureau and Minnesota State Fair. The Corys will also be recognized at the Faribault County Fair on Friday, July 24 at a special awards program honoring farm and fair recipients at 1 p.m. in ‘The Tent.’

“There were 40 acres in the original parcel of land owned by Martin Leary,” explains Cory. “In 1898, he purchased additional acres.” Born in Ireland, Cory says Leary had homesteaded and farmed the current acreage over a century ago. Even though he owned the land, she says the Leary family had a house on another farm site.

“Other than farming, he was not engaged in any other trades or occupations,” says Cory. “The farm’s major crops or products were corn, soybeans, beef cattle and hogs.”

By 1919, Leary’s son-in-law, Charles Cory, took over the farm. He and his wife, Catherine, had eight children. Their oldest daughter, Inez, died of influenza during the terrible outbreak of that disease following World War I.

Cory explains the site where the buildings are now standing was originally woods or a grove. The grove was farmed around until 1948 when the current house was built. The hog house and machine shed were added in the 1950s.

“While the house was being constructed,” says Cory, “Charles and Catherine lived in an old house which was moved onto the site.”

Catherine cooked meals on a cookstove to feed her family and the carpenters who were building the family’s new home.

Seven big ash trees, located near the house, remain standing from the original grove. According to Cory, one of them has been struck by lightning several times.

“These trees were used to tie-up the horse teams so they could be given water and feed after a day’s work in the field,” says Cory.

“My father, Adrian, purchased the farm in 1954,” says Cory. “My grandparents moved to Easton at about the same time.”

In 1955, Adrian and Lorna Cory were married and remained on the farm, where he took over the estate officially in 1964.

“My family got out of raising livestock in the 1980s,” says Cory.

Adrian died in 2004, but the grain farm remains in the name of his wife, Lorna. The land is currently being farmed by Susan’s brother, Michael, the great-grandson of Martin Leary, while Susan continues living in the family home.

The farm has seen many changes while in the hands of the Cory family. Among these would be the advance in technology, use of genetics in seed corn and the amount and type of chemicals used.

With the technological advances, the Corys exchanged their horses for Case and International Harvester products – lines they have been loyal to for years.

Through the years there have been other changes at the Century Farm site.

“I remember we had a coal furnace for heat,” says Cory. “In the kitchen you could pull the chains by turning a knob to set the damper/draft.”

She also recalls how her dad, who raised Hampshire hogs, would bring baby pigs from the barn in a bushel basket and set them by the furnace to keep them warm during the cold spring farrowing season.

The telephone was also a great improvement over the old ‘party lines.’

Other things from the Century Farm’s past include ‘walking the beans’ and ‘riding the bean bar.’ Even though they weren’t favorite jobs, she adds they provided good family time to visit.

“I remember those beans had to be walked by fair time or we didn’t get to go,” says Cory. “What kid wanted to miss going to the fair?”

Growing up on a farm in the 1950s and 1960s meant the Cory children would find their mom and dad home when they got off the school bus.

There was also the wonderful aroma of fresh-baked bread, rolls and coffeecake wafting from the kitchen to greet them. These were not just for company, says Cory, they were staples in her household while she was growing up.

Living on the farm also meant large gardens with lots of produce to can and freeze in order to enjoy the fruits of their labor during the long, cold winter ahead.

These were the times of wringer washers and ironing clothes — especially sheets and pillowcases adds Cory.

“We experienced life and death first-hand on the farm,” says Cory. “We were able to witness the miracle of birth of countless animals and also the death of animals including some of our beloved pets.”

Cory says the change in seasons also brought about changes in the type of work done on the farm. Spring meant it was planting season; hay and straw baling were summer activities needing to be done and fall ushered in the hectic harvest season followed by tiling and fall tillage.

Since the program began in 1976, more than 8,700 Minnesota farms have been recognized. The Cory farm now joins this elite group.

“I can’t imagine living any other way! We are truly blessed,” says Cory.

Farming is not a lifestyle for everyone, but after four generations it apparently is the right one for the Cory family.