The Rynning Farm was honored at the Kittson County Fair as a Century Farm. Family members include (front l-r) Lynn Rynning, (back) Wayne Langen, Zach Rynning, Rob Rynning and Tim Rynning. The group reminisced about the farm which Lynn, Rob, Tim and Tim’s son, Zach, continue to farm today.
By Linda Andersen
The Minnesota State Fair and the Minnesota Farm Bureau have named two Kittson County Farms as Century Farms for 2017. The Carl Wiese Farm, started by Carl Wiese, was featured in a recent Kittson County Enterprise article. Rynning Farms, begun by Axel Rynning, senior, is also a recipient of the honor. Interestingly, according to Axel’s grandson Lynn Rynning, Carl and Axel knew each other well and had much in common. “They would visit in uptown Hallock very frequently. They had plenty to talk about,” reports Lynn.
Lynn Rynning, along with other relatives, met recently at the home of Kathryn Rynning and her husband, Wayne Langen, to share information about the Rynning family and farm.
Kathryn got the ball rolling for the honor by completing the Century Farm application. “I lived at the farm; it was home to me,” she says. She and Axel’s grandson Richard (Rick) Rynning were married for thirty-two years, until his death in 1995. She finds it particularly special that their grandson Zach Rynning has recently joined the farming operation and is the first fifth generation Rynning to do so.
The history of the Rynning Farms starts with Axel Sr. and Hilda (Jodaa) Rynning who were born in Norway. Axel was a commercial fisherman and, as family members tell it, three ships went out to fish one day – only one returned to shore. Axel was fortunate to be on the one that made it back to shore. This incident influenced his decision to seek a new life in America. Coming to America alone in 1902, he worked for James and Margaret Horne of Skane Township in Kittson County. In 1917 he purchased their property, which became the start of Rynning Farms. He had returned to Norway in 1907 to marry Hilda and she accompanied him back to America. Five children were born to Axel and Hilda – Ishmael, James, Gunnard (died in infancy), Margaret, and Axel, Jr.
Lynn Rynning remembers Axel, Sr. and Hilda as “super grandparents.” He also relates that they won a Kittson County Farm Couple of the Year award at the winter shows one year and that Axel worked as the potato inspector for Kittson County.
Ishmael and his wife, Gladyce (Lorenson) Rynning, were the next generation to operate the farm. They built a new house on the farm shortly before their marriage in 1941 and reared two sons, Richard (Rick) and Lynn.
Lynn offers some written memories of farming with his grandpa, dad, and brother: “Axel farmed with horses early on and then purchased a Waterloo Boy tractor when they were sold in Kennedy. Later on, he owned a pair of Rumely tractors, one small size and the big one for the heavy jobs. Axel did custom harvesting in the area for various neighbors…Dad ran the large Rumely tractor and Axel ran the threshing machine. This combination lasted until 1938 when the first combine was purchased. It was a model 31RD IH (McCormick Deering) and this machine was used through the 1963 harvest season. The first tractor that Rick and I rode on with Dad was a 1936 model D John Deere (on steel). Then the farm went with IH tractors for many years.”
Continued on back page
“I should mention that the farm had milk cows, hogs, and chickens when we were very young – no more chickens after 1947. That was also the final year of growing potatoes on the farm. The majority of the potatoes were sold as seed and were mostly the Early Ohio variety…Sugar beets were grown from the teens through 2017.”
Lynn lists other crops grown through the years on the farm as spring wheat, barley, oats, flax, corn, alfalfa, sweet clover, potatoes, canary grass, tame mustard, soy beans, canola, and winter wheat. He says the use of progressively improved drying methods over the years speeded up the harvest.
Rick Rynning married Kathryn Sutherland. They had three children: Rob, Cindy, and Tim. Lynn married Charlette Roman. Kathi and Char contributed greatly to the farming operation by feeding hungry men. “They fed many a crew,” states Tim. Rob and Tim reminisce of feasts of calico beans, potato salad, pork chops, meatballs, scalloped potatoes and ham and more.
Rob and Tim eventually joined the farming operation which, between purchased and rental land, has grown from 160 acres to 4200 acres. (Other Rynning relatives still own some of the land which Lynn, Rob, Tim and Zach farm). Rob married Darlene Linberg and they have two sons. Tim married Lisa Helgeson and they have a son and two daughters. Their son, Zach, joined the farming operation in the last couple of years and is engaged to Amanda Tronick, who was recently featured in an Kittson County Enterprise article as the new support staff coordinator at the Kittson County Extension Office. Rob, Tim, and Zach all earned college/university degrees before returning to the county.
An enthusiasm and love for farming is apparent in the Rynning men. They all agree that they feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment every fall when the crop is off.
“We don’t have to punch a clock,” says Lynn.
“It’s a challenge and it’s something different every day… All the decisions are yours,” says Rob.
Tim speaks of the “smell of dirt” in the spring and the pleasure of sitting in the deer stand in the fall. “You get out of it what you put into it,” he adds.
Zach says he likes “doing something different every day. It doesn’t feel like work.”
The Rynnings are excited about this milestone in the life of Rynning Farms and are planning a party with neighbors and former employees for sometime in July.
(Left) Axel and Hilda Rynning and family. The Rynnings purchased the farm, which was approximately 160 acres, from the Horne’s for $6,400. (Right) Potato harvest on the rynning farm. Hand labor picking and putting potatoes in pails and bags for storage. Note the line up of vehicles in the background.
(Left) LYNN RYNNING, third generation of Rynning Farmers, reminisced about farming with his father and grandfather and the equipment they used, including a Rumely tractor. (Center) The Rynning farm deeed. (Right) The Rynning harvesting equipment.
The Rynning family hosted a celebration on July 15, 2017 at the Rob Rynning farm. Rob read the History of the farm to the guests.