Switzerland in May

In May, farmers lead their cows, wearing flowers and bells, to high mountain pastures to graze for the summer. It is a cultural experience with a long tradition, influenced by tourism today. Cheese made during the summer is brought down when the cows return in August or September, a cause for celebration and selling of the cheese. (2019 photo)

Many of us can trace our roots to Switzerland, where our ancestral farmers lived and worked. My paternal ancestors emigrated from Switzerland over 250 years ago, and many generations later their descendants were still farmers, including my father and Mennonite grandparents. 

Memorial Day in Silver City

Silver City Cemetery in Mills County is the site of an annual Memorial Day program organized by William Somervell. Terry’s Texas Rangers, portrayed here, was organized in 1861 as a group of volunteers for the Confederate States Army, and fought in a number of battles.

In 2021, the program began with the American Legion Post 439 color guard, a bagpiper, and riders portraying the Texas Rangers on horseback. The horse on the left in the first row is the riderless horse, with the commander’s boots placed backwards in the stirrups, looking back at his troops. At the end of the procession are civilians dressed in period costume. (See photo below)

The pastor of Silver City United Methodist Church spoke, followed by chaplains of the Legion and Legion Auxiliary. Memorial wreaths were placed in the cemetery and it concluded with a cannon 21-gun salute, a bugler playing taps, and music by a small group of musicians.

Somervell’s Percheron draft horses were originally stabled in the 1904 barn below, renovated to resemble Kentucky horse barns. Today, his seventeen horses reside in a nearby barn. Percherons were used to pull heavy cannons in the war because of their strength, and also were widely used in farming as a draft animal after 1850.  Wind your way to Silver City to celebrate Memorial Day in 2022.

The big yellow barn

This big yellow barn, built in the late 1920s, had steel siding added in the mid-1980s and has been a part of the farm laboratory for the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Agribusiness program since 2005. Utilizing the barn are cattle as well as hogs in a farrow-to-finish component.

DMACC leases land and farm buildings from Dallas County for a hands-on real world experience for Ag Business students interested in farm management and production agriculture. It also serves as a model of good conservation practices. The 325 acres leased includes 100 acres of corn, 100 acres of soybeans, with the remaining acres of pasture and hay for the livestock. Various test plots for seed companies are also part of the program.

The farm was originally “the poor farm” or “county farm,” later known as the Dallas County Care Facility. Now, after a $5.5 million remodel of the buildings, completed in 2016, it has become a Dallas County Human Services campus, housing county departments including Public Health, Environmental Health, Community Services, Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities, County Sheriff Communications Center, and more.

The combination of the community college program and county offices is a great plus for Dallas County. The location is: 25747 N Avenue on U.S. Highway 169, north of Adel.