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Snowy Acres Farm
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Overview

SnowyAcres Farm is located in the very north central portion of Iowa, just south of the Minnesota border. The farm has been in the family for generations. SnowyAcres has traditionally been a diversified farm with both grain production and livestock. During the history of the farm it has been worked simultaneously by those that favored grain production over livestock and those that favored the latter, the initial start of specialization. The land is managed with areas of conservation land, pasture land and larger areas of tillable soil with corn and soybean production. The farmstead sites include two locations with an artesian well on the home site. A third area of land exists but does not have a farmstead, only conservation land and tillable farmland.  Over the years livestock production has included dairy cows for milk production, sheep for wool and meat production, herds of beef cows for beef production chickens for egg and meat production and even pigs years ago. Star is the resident horse and has been at the farm for decades.  There have also been farm cats in residence to maintain control of any rodents as well as to add that final touch to the all American farm.

In two portions of the farm the land is traversed by small rivers.  The Middle Branch of the Blue Earth River flows north through the farm and is the largest volume contributor  to the Minnesota River. The river was named by the Dakota Indians as, Makato Osa Watapa, "the river where blue earth is gathered." The other small river also flows north through another more distant portion of the farm. That water begins from Union Slough dozens of miles to the south. Union Slough is a National Wildlife Refuge formed from the remains of a preglacial riverbed. The area of the slough is a connection or "Union" between two watersheds; that of the Blue Earth river of Minnesota and the East Fork of the Des Moines River in Iowa. The terrain is nearly flat in which the flow of the water may be determined by the direction of the wind even.

In the early 1800's the area of  what was to become the farm was  part of the much greater change of what has now become Iowa. At the beginning of the century, a blanket of prairie cloaked three-quarters of the land.  Pothole marshes dotted the flatter north-central part of the state, while a network of streams laced the rolling hills elsewhere across Iowa.  Dense forests engulfed some valleys in the east and groves of bur oaks climbed out of the river corridors and onto the ridges to form savannas.  Thousands of Native Americans lived on the land, harvesting wild plants and animals, growing crops, and occasionally managing the vegetation with fire.  By 1900, however, Euro-American settlers had claimed nearly all of Iowa's 36 million acres as farmland. 

Non-Indian settlement officially began on June 1, 1833, when pioneers first were allowed to claim new land in the 6-million-acre Black Hawk Purchase along the west side of the Mississippi River.  By 1846, when Iowa became a state, census records listed 96,088 people.  The population doubled to 192,914 by 1850 and topped one million before 1870.  In 1900, Iowa had 2.2 million people, compared to 2.9 million people today.  Most lived on the state's 200,000 farms, working land where 95 percent of the prairie, two-thirds of the woodlands, and most of the wetlands had been converted to agriculture.

The dramatic, swift, almost complete change of diverse prairie to a monoculture of cropland profoundly altered the ecosystem.  Twenty-eight million acres of bluestem, dropseed, compass plants, coneflowers, gentians, and 200 other species were transformed, in a relative eye blink, into a patchwork of corn, wheat, oats, hay, and pasture.  Those plots have expanded to the huge roadside-to-roadside corn and soybean fields that we see today

Nineteenth-century Iowans liked to plant trees.  Many farmers started windbreaks and shelterbelts around their farmsteads for shade and protection from the prairie winds.  As people controlled wildfires, and with roads and fields as firebreaks, tree growth expanded into what once had been grasslands.  When cities grew, urban residents also planted trees along streets, around houses, and in parks.

Still, Iowa was, and is, known more for its prairies than its trees.  Especially in north-central and northwest Iowa, in the tracks of the most recent glaciers, a labyrinth of prairie marshes dotted the pre-settlement terrain.  Ducks and geese, even trumpeter swans and whooping cranes, abounded in the wetlands.  Muskrats, turtles, dragonflies, small fish, frogs, salamanders, marsh wrens, yellow-headed blackbirds, and other wildlife shared the potholes.

The soil of Iowa is some of the richest land on earth, a fact not lost on the pioneers who settled there. Today, farming is finely tuned to preserve the land. Conservation is important. Farming methods are sophisticated with GPS planting and fertilizer applications in crop production. Genetic engineering and improved veterinary science is at the cutting edge of livestock management. Today the SnowyAcres Farm continues to produce corn and soybeans. The farmsteads continue to raise beef steers.

Welcome to SnowyAcres Farm.

 

 

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