When I tell people I currently live on a farm that has been in my family now for 158 years I often see a mix of emotions subsequently displayed on their face. At first there is the amazement factor because these days very few things last that long. Then settles in the disbelief or doubt factor wondering if this could possibly even be true. Finally, they usually want to hear more.
I’ll admit…it’s a bit odd to realize that when my ancestors first immigrated from Norway to Minnesota it was a Territory and not even a state quite yet. Union Statehood for Minnesota came in 1858 while my ancestors first arrived during the fall of 1856. Consider this excerpt from my ancestor Ole Olsen Braaten’s journal at the time:
“The western part of Goodhue County…was for the most part settled the year before we came, so there was not much land to choose from. The lucky ones had a little to get started out with, but most of us were short of money. Father had only $50 left…. For this money he bought a cow for $40; a flour sack, an ax, and a shovel for the rest. With winter at the door, the outlook was bleak. Three weeks later Father found 120 acres of land, where he built our home. Little Cannon River flows through the land, and the fish we caught there were our main sustenance for that first winter…
We were in daily contact with the Indians, but they were a friendly tribe of Chippewa’s. Father traded them a rifle. Right after that they had killed three deer and decorated the rifle with three silk ribbons. We traded several things with them, and often were given venison. Usually they came by our house in the evening, carrying a deer. They had their winter camp a half-mile into the woods. It was very good hunting ground for them here…the landscape was magnificent: you could call it ‘Norwegian.’ There was an abundance of wild grapes, plumbs, choke cherries, gooseberries, and other fruit.”
I read these two paragraphs often. They are my humble beginnings as I know it. They show two aspects of life that are still very near and dear to my heart—agriculture and the outdoors. For it was agriculture that provided hope to live life in a new land and it was the outdoors (deer, fish, wild plants) that provided their sustenance during the hardships of those first years living on the farm.
At Outside Connections, LLC we have never forgotten these ancestral roots. Even almost 160 years later the worlds of agriculture and the outdoors remain integral to our existence. Oh, sure, our ancestors could never have imagined a world of wireless communication, the Internet, social media and the like. Still, they most certainly appreciated the role agriculture, hunting, fishing and living off the land meant to one’s survival.
This is the main reason our efforts at Outside Connections, LLC remain steadfast in promoting and marketing in these niche business areas. The dirt under our fingernail bed could come from either a long day spent laboring in the soil to remnants from dragging a deer out of the woods. In our world, agriculture and the outdoors is life and the two are intertwined so tightly it absolutely makes no sense trying to separate them.