Few old barns are more relevant today than they were in years past, but that’s the case at the Carlson Family Farm, located between Lake City and Yate.
“It’s not a fancy barn, but it plays an important role in Carlson Cattle,” Matt Carlson, who lives on the farm with his wife Jaci, said.
Carlson’s son Colin founded Carlson Cattle, a display cattle business specializing in Angus display heifers and purebred Simmental heifers. It builds on the strong farming tradition of the Carlson family in the town of Elm Grove in Calhoun County.
“The Carlsons are just north of here,” Carlson, an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor at South Central Calhoun High School in Lake City, said. “The Carlson Ranch is across the street from where we live and consists of two barns.”
No one is sure about the exact age of Matt and Jesse’s child. “The house was built in 1927, so we think the barn was built around that time or earlier,” Carlson said he has been a high school ag teacher for 39 years.
Carlson’s uncles and aunts, Richard and Doris Carlson, lived on the farm until about 1970, and some tenants followed them before Carlson’s parents, Aaron and Bob, moved there in 1980.
“There was never much livestock on this farm,” Matt said his father removed the hayloft on the south side and added a gate to the west so he could store vehicles and machinery in the barn.
Livestock became part of the farm again after Colin joined the Jackson Pioneers 4-H Club and wanted to try the cattle program. After weeding and fencing installed, the barn provides a convenient place to raise the calves that Colin and his sister Kelsey are displaying at the Calhoun County Fair.
The barn was also renovated around this time. In June 2010, Jaci and her friend Stacie Schultz painted the silver pewter exterior red. The following year, the Carlsons added a colorful painted barn quilt over the haystack door.
“The blue and yellow in the design reflect our Swedish heritage, the green represents agriculture, and the red block with a white star in the middle represents American pride,” Jaci Carlson said his family signed the back of the barn quilt before installing it on the west side of the barn on July 28, 2011.
The barn remains the center of the farm, said Colin, 25, who sells livestock feed for Webb’s Feed in Rockville, sells Golden Harvest seed and continues to grow the Carlson Cattle business. “We’re going to have about 20 animals this spring.”
The Carlsons gave birth to calves in January and February using embryo transfer techniques. “We had a calf during a snowstorm when the barn could barely be seen from the house,” Colin Carlson said. “And then there are calm, silent nights when you go out and check your calves, when the snow crunches under your feet. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
And there’s nothing like those three mysterious old chairs in the North Hayloft, side by side, where they’ve stood for decades.
“It’s almost like previous generations of the family are here, watching everything,” Colin Carlson said. “This barn could tell a lot of stories.”