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Heritage Farm owner puts all crop acres into CRP

By Staff | Nov 19, 2016

THIS SIGN was made by Susan Oviatt’s father, Marion Oviatt, to signify the establishment of the Oviatt family farm in 1855. Many of these buildings have been on the farm for most of the farm’s existence, but Oviatt has plans to have them torn down in the spring due to their condition.

WOODWARD – For 161 years, there have been crops and livestock on Susan Oviatt’s family farm, based on decisions made as the ag economy dictated.

In 2016, there is no livestock, or a single crop on the farm. There’s nothing but its fourth-generation owner, who was also responding to the ag economy.

Susan Oviatt is the proud owner of her family farm that has been owned by the Oviatts since 1855.

Oviatt said her great-grandparents, Hugh and Martha Oviatt, established the farm near Woodward, in Boone County, in 1855. Oviatt said she’s unsure if there was an existing farmstead when they bought the 117 acres or exactly what brought Hugh and Martha Oviatt to purchase the land.

But for whatever reason, the rest is history in the making for the Oviatt family.

“I grew up on this farm and if I wasn’t living here, I have always lived close by. I am proud to live here.” —Susan Oviatt Fourth-generation farm owner

Some extended family members lived on the farm for years, she said. Her grandparents, Stanley and Mary Oviatt, were the next in line to move onto the farm, but the year is unknown. They stayed there “for quite some time” until they moved to become park managers at nearby Camp Mitigwa in 1947.

Oviatt said her grandfather, Stanley Oviatt, was a blacksmith and a machinist operating his business from one of the buildings on his farm.

In those roles, Stanley Oviatt performed a variety of work on his farm and for the area’s farmers.

“I know he used to make all of the horseshoes for the work horses,” Susan Oviatt said.

After 1947, her parents, Marion and Hazel Oviatt, became the third generation on the family’s farm.

SUSAN OVIATT’S grandfather, Stanley Oviatt, used this building as his blacksmith shop. He did jobs for area farmers as well as made horseshoes for the work horses in this building.

Oviatt said her family raised pigs, sheep and cows in addition to their grain operation.

She recalls many memories of bottle-feeding young animals, which was always considered fun to her.

“We kept busy growing up with all of the animals,” said Oviatt.

She recalls watching her parents picking corn by hand.

“My brother, Stan, and I would go out and help as much as we could,” she said.

FOR THE 2016 growing season, Susan Oviatt decided to place her farmland into CRP due to the failing farm economy. Oviatt believes 2016 is the first year since 1855 there hasn’t been a crop produced on the farm.

Through the years, the usage of the out-buildings on the farm changed. One small shed, according to Oviatt, used to be for pigs, but her dad turned it into a ceramic shop for her mother to enjoy throwing clay.

That building and her grandfather’s blacksmith building have seen better times, and Oviatt said she plans to have them torn down next spring.

Oviatt said her dad wanted the house fixed up, “so I wouldn’t have to worry about doing it when I got older.”

Her father cut down cedar trees and made the panels himself and hung paneling inside. She and her brother both helped with the remodeling and put the paneling inside the house, which remains today.

Oviatt said she returned to her childhood farm as a permanent abode in 2001.

“I grew up on this farm and if I wasn’t living here, I have always lived close by,” she said. “I am proud to live here.”

With years come other changes as well.

Oviatt said with the failing farm commodity prices she made the decision to put her farmland into the federal Conservation Reserve Program, estimating it to be the first year since 1855 there hasn’t been a crop raised on her family’s farm.

“It kind of bothered me to not be raising a crop, but the income wasn’t there and this way I make some money,” she said.

Although the acreage is large on her family’s Heritage Farm, Oviatt said she enjoys living there.

The area is heavily wooded nearby, which brings her the opportunity to enjoy different birds, including bald eagles, as well as other animals.

Her love of animals is also a benefit of having her farm ground placed into CRP.

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