The Land: Generational lessons at the Bob Ohse Farm.

October 25, 2016
Bob Ohse, left, and Jacob Zwagerman.

Bob Ohse, left, and Jacob Zwagerman.

The Land: Generational lessons at the Bob Ohse Farm.

#TheLand #MasonCounty Agriculture

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

BRANCH TOWNSHIP — Farming is more than just a job and it’s more than just a business. It’s a lifestyle and its tradition. But, there reaches a point when a farmer needs to make a decision on what happens to the farm when he is gone. Often, an adult child or other relative may take over the farm. But, that’s not always the case.

Land_011 ludington beverageBob and Carla Ohse’s children chose different career paths and moved away from the farm leaving Bob with the need to find a successor. He chose Jacob Zwagerman, who had worked on the farm since the time he was 12-years-old.

“My family moved here in 1991 and I worked on the Ohse farm since I was 12 until I graduated high school,” Jacob says. “I then moved away and one day Bob called me out of the blue and asked if I wanted to help him farm, to become his partner.”

The Bob Ohse Farm operates on 1,200 acres of land in Branch, Custer, Sherman, and Sheridan townships. The farming tradition began when Bob’s grandparents, Wilhelmina (Minnie) and Augustus, immigrated from Germany and bought 40 acres on US 10. Bob’s parents then bought 80 acres on Schoenherr Road, the site of the existing farmstead. When Bob was 10, his parents, August and Edna, expanded the operation to 120 acres. His father died three years later, leaving the farm to 13-year-old Bob and his brother, Auggie, who was 12 years older than Bob (Auggie died in 2006).

“I could have chosen any number of careers,” Bob says. “But, I stand out here on this land and look at the trees changing colors, smelling the fresh, frosty air, and I can’t really imagine doing anything else.”

Jacob agrees.

ohse_john_deere“Last night I was harvesting soybeans and I got done about 8:30. I stepped out of the combine and looked up at the stars and thought to myself that not everyone in this world is blessed to be able to see this. People who live in the cities don’t get to see the stars like this. I get to work outdoors and not in a small box. I also think about how blessed I am to be able to grow the food that people eat.”

Jacob also owns his own farm operation, Zwagerman Farm Cropping, LLC. In addition to raising crops on his own 200 acres, Jacob also raises hogs. Bob says he raised cattle for over 40 years but no longer has livestock on his farm.

The two generations working together helps the farm progress and also helps keep it grounded as well, both Bob and Jacob say.

“Bob has passed his knowledge on to me which has taught me a lot,” Jacob says. “We also balance each other out. Sometimes I get an idea way out in left field and Bob will reel me back in. Then, there are times when Bob heads out in right field and I will bring him back. It’s a great balance that works well.”

Bob says Jacob brings with him new ideas of modern farming and is also able to do some of the heavier lifting.

“I have seen a lot of changes on the farm,” Bob says. “When I started we were still using horses. Today the combine is all computer controlled. I don’t handle those things and let Jacob worry about that. He can do a lot of things that I can’t do and he does them well.”

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