The Vietnam War – Mike Lamfers – a farm kid from rural Amiret

Michael Lamfers was born in January 1947 in Stillwater. His birth mother placed him for adoption through Catholic Charities and he was adopted in May 1947 by Heye (pronounced “Hi”) and Virginia (Lenertz) Lamfers. The Lamfers lived on and operated a farm east of Amiret near the Cottonwood River in Lyon County.

Mike was the Lamfers’ only child and has always known he was adopted, “My folks told me from the beginning I was adopted. So, it was never a mystery to me.”

Although an only child, Mike explained he hardly grew up alone.

“I had two uncles in the vicinity. One was Ed Lenertz. Ed had four boys and three girls. Of the four boys, the oldest was two years older than me; the youngest was two years younger than me; and there were two in-between. So, I was right in the middle of the four boys and we grew up on this river. There were two houses where Ed Lenertz lived (down the road from the Lamfers) and one had my grandmother, my mother’s mother, and (Mom’s) brother, Uncle Pete. Pete was the bachelor uncle who took all of us boys hunting.”

The Lamfers’ farm required a lot of work and hanging with his cousins had to wait until the work was done. Mike’s parents shared the workload

“She was a farm girl. My mother worked right with my dad. She was outside all the time. She did the chores. Whatever equipment there was, she could run it. When I was really small, I was constantly with them because they were both working outside. I guess I started farming from a very early age.”

He described the Lamfers’ farm operation and some of his roles as a kid.

“It was 280 acres that my dad rented. We milked about ten cows by hand. We didn’t milk too many years, but I remember I was old enough to sit on the milk stool and get kicked by the cow. We’d put the hobbles on ’em, but they’d pull their tail out of the hobble and slap you in the face with it. I got enough experience with that. (Mike chuckled) On the far end of the farm there was twenty acres of pasture. When we were milking the cows, my dad would take the dog, Rex, and me and drop us off. We had to bring the cows up the lane because they wouldn’t come up by themselves.”

Mike recalled the milk supported the operation in a couple ways.

“We’d carry the milk to the house and run it through the separator. We kept the cream. A lot of the milk we used to make mash to feed the hogs. Any cream we took to Amiret to an old, brick building that was a produce. It was also the post office at one time. That’s where we took our cream and eggs to market. We had hogs for a few years, but we went out of hogs and went into chickens. Every building that could hold a chicken had chickens in them.”

Operating the tractors also came early.

“I (was) on tractors as long as I can remember. I just rode on the tractor, usually with my dad. I think it was the 2nd grade when I wanted to bring a friend home from Amiret School. My mother said, ‘No, you can’t bring Steven home, your dad has a surprise for you.’ It was in the spring and we didn’t get the plowing done in the fall. My dad was plowing with the old John Deere D; my mother was disking with the Oliver 70; and my surprise was I got to go out by myself with the Oliver 66 and a four-section drag and drag the field.” (Mike laughed)

Mike’s folks expanded the operation when he was older.

“My sophomore year, we moved from that farm just a half mile west. That barn got all changed over for chickens. So, we had chickens on both places. I remember in junior and senior year, the roads would fill (with snow) and we’d have to walk a half mile from one place to the other. So, you had to pick the eggs; hang them in the basket; and walk back. Walking back was always bad because you were walking west and it was usually a northwest wind.”

Summers brought other farm work and opportunity.

“I got to spend a lot of time on a cultivator. You wanted to cultivate it three times. You’d cultivate it once and then you’d cultivate it cross-ways. (Mike chuckled) That wasn’t fun. The third time you’d cultivate the way you planted it. We had a two-row cultivator on the old Oliver 66 and a 4-row on the Oliver 70 after we got the four-row planter. Baling was our big thing in the summertime as a farm boy. We baled alfalfa. We baled oat straw. And at that time, there was a lot of flax straw in the country. When we’d get done baling the flax straw and if we (he and his cousins) had time, we’d go to Amiret and stack the flax straw in the box cars in Amiret. That was one of the summer jobs we could get. We threw a lot bales in our time.”

Mike’s growing up years on the farm were busy, but there was also room for school and hanging with his nearby cousins.

Please visit our new exhibit at the Lyon County Museum, The Vietnam War and Lyon County, to learn more about the experiences of our area Vietnam veterans.


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