MARSHALL - Signs of spring are beginning to sprout everywhere after a long, hard winter in southwestern Minnesota: green grass is protruding, trees are budding and farmers - like Allen Deutz - are starting to get busy in anticipation of field work and the arrival of new farm babies.
Deutz lives along Skunk Hollow Road in Marshall with his wife Kathleen, 3 1/2-year-old twins Samuel and Autumn and 1-year-old daughter Elsie. He's owned the farm for a little more than a year and spent his childhood there as well.
"This is my grandpa's (Frank Deutz) home farm," Allen Deutz said. "My great-grandpa also lived here for a year. I recently bought it from my dad (Paul Deutz), so it's been in the family for a long time."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Allen Deutz, right, helps his son Samuel, 3, hold onto a Yorkshire cross piglet Monday.
The farmsite was founded in 1920, making it 91 years old and nine years away from being recognized as a century farm.
"I lived here for 18 years growing up," Deutz said. "I farm with my dad and I've had pigs since I was in high school."
Deutz got into the pig market during the hog crisis, which he admits was a bad time to do so.
But after losing money on his second bunch, things have been pretty consistent ever since, though rising corn prices are starting to take its toll on some farm operations.
"It could be worse," he said.
Deutz raises pigs from farrow to finish. Because of his preference and the high cost of constructing a confinement building, Deutz' pigs mature outdoors.
"I raise them up from gilts to butcher size," Deutz said. "I have them outside, which is a different approach. Not too many people do that anymore. But working with pigs isn't very pleasant, so having them outside is nice."
Most of Deutz' pigs are Yorkshires crossed with Durocs and Hampshires.
"We get a lot of different colors," he said. "We get some spotted ones and some nice red and white ones. It's better than having all the same color."
The twins also liked the different varieties of colors.
"I like this one better," Autumn said as she carefully held onto the red and white piglet on Monday.
"I like this one," Samuel said, referring to the mostly white-colored piglet.
Kathleen Deutz grew up in New Mexico and now works as a special education teacher at Park Side Elementary. She admits that she isn't much of an "animal person," but said the kids really seemed to like them.
"I didn't think I'd like living on a farm," Kathleen said. "But I do, especially since it's so close to town."
Allen Deutz also milks approximately 45 dairy cows, most of which are Holsteins, but some of them are a Jersey cross. He also raises laying hens and a couple of turkeys in addition to housing four of his mom's (Fran Deutz) horses and farming approximately 900 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa.
"I raise a little of everything," Deutz said. "I'm busy all year long."
But with farming in his blood, he wouldn't have it any other way.