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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Still going strong

Friday, August 5, 2011

* After 150 years, farm still in family's hands

Norman and Carolyn Keiser, Poland, own, farm and live on the oldest active farm in the area.

They are the fifth generation to live on the farm. Their children, Brad and Karen, were raised on the farm, making them the sixth generation.

The original homestead in Poland, was called the Old Homestead Farm. The roots have been traced back to George Kniepe in 1854, Henry Kniepe in 1884, Edward Strauch in 1898, Howard Keiser in 1937 and Norman Keiser in 1981.

The farm has been passed down through the female heirs, explaining the name change. The Old Homestead Farm was never rented out, but instead has always been farmed by the family owner.

In 2008, Norman and Carolyn received the Hoosier Homestead award from Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman during a Statehouse ceremony. They received the Sesquicentennial award for having a working farm for more than 150 years.

"You take a little pride in it -- that it's been in the family all these years," Norman told The Brazil Times. "There aren't too many farms left where kids from my generation still live on the farms."

There was always livestock on the Old Homestead Farm, including horses, ponies, cattle, hogs and sheep. However, in 1990, after their children were finished with showing sheep in 4-H, the Keiser's stopped raising livestock.

Now, the 104 acres of original farmland, all in Poland, are strictly used for farming crops including corn, soybeans and hay.

Norman and Carolyn have done a lot more with their lives than just farm, though.

"Dad thought it was important to go to college," Norman said. "He said that's something no one can take away from you."

All three Keiser boys attended college. Norman received a teaching degree in industrial arts.

He taught in Ladoga, Ind., for his first three years of teaching. He spent the next 37 years teaching in Martinsville, Ind.

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Carolyn also taught in Martinsville, using her business education degree. At that time, farming was more of a hobby or side job for the Keiser's. They both retired from teaching in 2008, and they are now full-time farmers.

Norman said to him, the best part about farming is getting to be outside. His least favorite part of farming is the uncertainty of yields, prices and weather.

"This year was a struggle with all the rain we had," he said.

But whether rain or shine, the Keiser's enjoy their acreage.

They recently bought 40 more acres of farmland close to their home. After some research, they found out their family had also owned the acreage.

Carolyn said she wants to maintain and take care of the farm so "we can pass it on to our kids -- that's really important."

The Keiser's plan to pass the farm on to their children. They estimate the homestead will stay in the family for at least two more generations.

"Our grandson (Braydon Keiser) thinks it's neat," said Norman. "He comes down to squirrel hunt."

Braydon could potentially carry this legacy on into 200 years of family history.



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