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Barn helps Carlson Cattle business thrive

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Matt and Jaci Carlson stand outside the family barn with their son, Colin.

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It’s rare that an old barn is more relevant today than it was in years past, but that’s the case at the Carlson family’s farm between Lake City and Yetter.

“This isn’t a fancy barn, but it plays an important role in Carlson Cattle,” said Matt Carlson, who lives on the farm with his wife, Jaci.

Carlson’s son, Colin, created Carlson Cattle, a show cattle business focused on Angus show heifers and purebred Simmental heifers. It builds on the Carlson family’s strong agricultural heritage in Elm Grove Township in Calhoun County.

“The Carlsons homesteaded just north of here,” said Carlson, an ag education teacher and FFA advisor at South Central Calhoun High School in Lake City. “The big Carlson farm was located across the section from our place and included two barns.”

No one is sure about the exact age of Matt and Jaci’s barn. “The house was built in 1927, so we figure the barn was built around that time or earlier,” said Carlson, who has been a high school ag instructor for 39 years.

Carlson’s uncle and aunt, Richard and Doris Carlson, lived at the farm until about 1970, followed by some tenants before Carlson’s parents, Aaron and Barb, moved there in 1980.

“There was never much livestock on this farm,” said Matt, whose father removed the hayloft on the south side and added a large door on the west so he could store vehicles and machinery in the barn.

Livestock became part of the farm again after Colin joined the Jackson Pioneers 4-H Club and wanted to try a cattle project. After weeds were removed and fences were installed, the barn provided a convenient place to raise the calves that Colin and his younger sister, Kelsi, enjoyed showing at the Calhoun County Expo.

The barn also received a facelift around this time. Jaci and her friend Stacie Schultz painted the silver tin exterior siding red in June 2010. Then the Carlsons added a colorful, painted barn quilt on the haymow door the next year.

“The blue and yellow in the design reflect our Swedish heritage, the green represents agriculture, and the red block with the white star in the middle stands for American pride,” said Jaci Carlson, whose family members signed the back of the barn quilt before installing it on the west side of the barn on July 28, 2011.

The barn remains a hub of the farm, said Colin, 25, who sells livestock feed for Webb’s Feed in Rockwell City, sells Golden Harvest seed and continues to grow the Carlson Cattle business. “We’ll calve about 20 animals this spring.”

The Carlsons use embryo transfer technology, and calves are born in January and February. “We’ve had calves born during blizzards when the barn is barely visible from the house,” Colin Carlson said. “Then there are calm, still nights when the snow crunches under your feet when you go out to check the calves. There’s nothing like it.”

There’s also nothing like the three mysterious old chairs positioned next to each other in the north hayloft, where they have stood for decades.

“It’s almost like previous generations of the family are here, watching over everything,” Colin Carlson said. “There are so many stories this barn could tell.”

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