Reedsville Century Farm family relishes memories of farmhands, caring for animals

Alisa M. Shafer
Marjorie Bodwin and her brother hold the Century Farm award at the 2017 Wisconsin State Fair.

REEDSVILLE – While the Bodwin Farm now sits empty and quiet, Marjorie Bodwin still remembers the days of working the land, caring for animals, cooking meals for the farmhands and running the busy family home.  

"We liked doing it, you know, and the kids liked it, too," Bodwin said. "It's fun thinking about it. We did lots of cooking." 

Bodwin and her brother were recently given a Century Farm Award at the 2017 Wisconsin State Fair after the Reedsville farm recently celebrated its 100th year.  

The farm was purchased by Bodwin's parents after they married at the age of 19. Bodwin said the 150-acre farm was covered with trees, but her father cleared them all.  

"He almost killed himself working, you know," she said. "He worked so hard and even when it was raining and my mother was calling for him to come in, he wouldn't quit. He worked right through the rain."

Her family grew most staple crops such as corn, peas, oats and barley. In addition, they cared for a small herd of dairy cows, a few horses and pigs.  

Dairy cows make their way up to the barn in time for milking.

"I really miss the horses … they were fun, but they were a lot of work, especially in the winter when their water was always freezing up," Bodwin said. 

When Bodwin's father died, her brother took over the farm, but in 1979, he handed it over to Bodwin and her husband. 

"We changed it a lot when we took over the farm," she said. "We bought new machinery — that was expensive." 

Bodwin said she would also help with milking the cows and cleaning the milk machines, but primarily she ran the household. Unfortunately, the farm wasn't profitable enough to support her family and her husband ended up taking on a second job.  

In 1985, tragedy struck when her husband passed away suddenly at the age of 57. Bodwin tried to continue caring for the animals, but eventually had to sell them, the farm machinery and rented out the land for other farmers to tend to. 

Some of the horses, her favorite animals, were purchased by a nearby neighbor who lets Bodwin visit them anytime she likes. Bodwin said she likes to bring her grandchildren to see them.  

Today, Bodwin lives at the farm with her brother, her daughter and her son-in-law. She said that even though it is not a working farm any longer, she hopes to keep the home and the land within the Bodwin family.