Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 10, 2003

New Germany farm captured in photo book

By Julie Yurek

The photograph will probably make any farmer smile, no matter how long he's been in the business.

It's not out of the ordinary, but it captures a special moment.

The mother Holstein licks one of her twin calves that was born just hours earlier on Jim and Arla Kubasch's farm.

Their farm is located on Highway 7 near New Germany, northwest of the Hollywood Ranch House restaurant. Their son, Gary, farms with them.

The farm was started by Kubasch's grandparents, Charles and Emelia Kubasch in 1900, just after they immigrated from Germany.

The photograph is one of more than 100 pictures in Life on the Farm by Dean A. Riggott, a pictorial book that reflects Minnesota's farmland and the people who work it.

"My hope is that these images will bring back memories to those who grew up on a farm but now live elsewhere, and inspire those who stayed closer to home," Riggott said.

The book was published in October 2001. He spent more than four years compiling the images for the book.

"Riggott was just driving by, saw the animals, and stopped and asked if he could take some pictures," Arla said.

"Jim talked with him for awhile, because you don't want just anyone running around," she said.

"Jim just thought he was a very nice, honest person, so he let him take pictures,"Arla said.

Riggott was on the farm for about two hours, Jim said.

"He asked that they keep doing their work so he could take pictures at random," she said.

Arla wasn't home the day Riggott took the pictures, but she met him at a later time.

The Kubasches have another picture in Riggott's book. Their cat, Floyd, is sitting on a gate post next to a doorway in the barn.

"It's where he always sits so he can watch the yard. I suppose he was keeping an eye on Mr. Riggott," Arla said.

What do they think of his work?

"I think he's great," Arla said. "To take something so simple as a field of roundbales. . .we as farmers, we see roundbales all the time and think, 'no big deal.' But when you see his picture of it, it's amazing."

"There are so many photographs in the book that if you're not a farmer, you're not going to have any idea what the memories are behind it," Arla said. "But if you have had anything to do with farming, you can look at some of those pictures and you're mind can go on forever."

"He is a really nice man and very polite," Arla said.

The Kubasches bought Life on the Farm while they were in Rochester a couple of years ago. A friend from St. Cloud had been given the book and mentioned that he had seen their photo. The Kubasches hadn't known the book was in print already.

The couple goes to Rochester on a regular basis. Arla had a liver transplant almost 12 years ago and gets a check-up every year.

Riggott is a native of Rochester and gave the family a copy of his first book, Rochester: The Images, the day he was at their farm.

His first book features 70 photographs of Rochester, and pages on the city and the Mayo Clinic's histories.

So when they were in Rochester and wanted to buy the farm book, he invited them to his house to get it, Arla said.

Last fall, Riggott invited the Kubasches to attend a show he and another artist were having at a gallery in Rochester. The Kubasches went, and purchased a print. The picture of their cow and her calves was on a wall at the gallery, Arla said.

The Kubasches also have a few smaller photograph prints that were taken on their farm. Riggott had mailed them three different eight by 12 inch prints shortly after he had been at their farm, Arla said.

In the short time since Riggott pulled into the Kubasches' yard and now, things have changed on the farm.

When he visited three years ago, the family was farming 200 acres of crops, milking a dairy herd, and raising pigs.

Now they are in the process of getting out of farming, Arla said. "That will be the last set of twins born on this farm. This is a century (old) farm."

The Kubasches only have a few cows left and are renting out their farm land, Arla said.

With prices getting lower and lower everyday, it's hard for smaller farms to make it, Arla said. "We're not big enough to get in on any government programs or subsidies."

"It is really sad that our country is coming to what it is," she said. "I hope the guys renting our land can really do well."

One thing that does remain the same after three years is Floyd. He's still watching the yard.

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