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Researching our Farm History

I’m pretty deep into a winter project this week (why did I wait until February???) and wanted you to see the process.

We are planning an interpretive tour in our cattle chute area, just to let anyone find out more about the old feedlot infrastructure if they want to. It will be a circular walking path through the cattle chute, the scale and some of the penning with posters showing the history of the land, how a feedlot works and how beef works, including Temple Grandin’s contribution to animal welfare in industrial farming.

We have never really emphasized that part of the farm to our visitors, but lots of people have questions about the cattle chute, the big grain elevator building and what the feedlot was like. Hey, even we have questions! So now I’m trying to find ALL the answers.

Of course, we never got to see the feedlot in action since it closed down around 2001, so finding information and pictures of that time requires some digging. I feel like I’m just getting started, but researching history takes a ton of time!

Anyone have advice from your own family history projects? How do I find out who has all owned this place in the last 100 or so years? Anyone from Sanford who knows a history buff or someone who worked here that might have a photo of the feedlot in operation? I did find one picture in a newspaper archive of the Tribune, thanks for the U of M archival material. And we have these great aerial photos, thank to Jackie at Canada Map Sales many years ago.

So far, I have stopped short of dropping in on the neighbors (I’m weather phobic), but I’m sure there are lots of memories yet to be discovered. I’ll keep you posted!

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