Preserving the Homestead
Julius and Anna Goetze left Saxony, Germany in 1873 to try their hand at farming in America. They worked hard to clear land that was littered with burned and toppled stumps left behind by a devastating fire that swept through Michigan’s “Thumb” region in 1871. Despite the difficulty of the work and the fact that they were new to farming, they prospered enough that Anna wrote home, “We are all well and happy here on our pleasant home farm.”
Julius and Anna’s youngest son, Arthur married his sweetheart Bertha Graichen in 1905 and the couple took over the day-to-day operation of the farm. Sadly, Arthur lost his beloved “Bird” and their three sons and adopted daughter were orphaned in 1931. Three years later, Arthur married Amanda Steele. She and her son Wallace came to live at Pleasant Home Farm, and the house was filled with life again.
When the time came for Arthur and Amanda to retire, it was again the youngest son who took over farming. Oliver and his wife Mary farmed for more than 40 years and raised five children here. Though Gene went off to see the world in the navy, he couldn’t shake the soil off his boots. When we retired, we bought the place from his dad.
Today most of the 120 acres is rented to a local large-scale farmer who takes care not to spray much. When he has to spray, he makes sure the wind is blowing away from our 2 acre garden where we aren’t certified organic, but we do use organic practices. He’s also careful not to run over our laying chickens. They like to free range in the fields.
When we’re not in the garden, we’re renovating the old house and barn. There’s a saying that a boat is a hole in the water you pour money into. I’d say a house is a hole in the ground you pour money into. Especially if it’s a 130-year old house. But it’s a labor of love because every bit of this house was built by someone in Gene’s family. I often stand in the kitchen and think of the generations of women who cooked and sewed here before me. I can feel the weight of love and concern and grace over meals. The roots and memories here are too strong to let go of us and too valuable for us to let go of, so we’re holding on.