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Lashbrook inducted into Hall of Fame

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 07/30/2013 10:55 AM

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FARIBAULT, Minn. — Rice County agricultural supporters gathered in the fair Beer Garden for breakfast.

Sponsored by the Rice County Farm Bureau and the Rice County Pork Producers, the breakfast normally attracts 125 to 140 people. Numbers were down this year, attributable both to the weather and the lack of century farm honorees, said Rice County Farm Bureau president Randy Hanson, who farms by Nerstrand.

Next year, they'll recruit century and sesquicentennial farms during the winter, Hanson said.

The breakfast is part of Rice County's Best of the Best Ag Awards, which includes not only recognition for century farmers, but also for the county's Farm Family of the Year, Outstanding Conservationist and other conservation awards. This year, they recognized the Rice County 4-H Dairy Judging Team, which recently returned from Scotland; recently retired conservation district employee Tim Labs; and Rice County Sheriff's Deputy John W. Liebenstein, who was killed in the line of duty on May 3, 1996.

The portion of Interstate 35 located in Rice County was dedicated in Liebenstein's memory this spring, Sheriff Troy Dunn said. Liebenstein was a supporter of the county fair in general and the sheep project in particular.

The Best of the Best recognizes farmers past, present and future, said John Dvorak, acting secretary of the Rice County Fair. All are vital to the fair, which marks 140 years in 2013.

Hall of Fame

Pioneer Holstein breeder Alfred James Lashbrook was inducted posthumously into the Rice County Agriculture Hall of Fame during the July 18 ceremony.

Lashbrook moved with his family to Northfield in 1903 when he was 13. He attended Carleton College and graduated from the University of Minnesota. He worked in Fergus Falls and Washington state before joining his father in the dairy in 1916.

The Lashbrook farm bordered St. Olaf College on the north and west. The farm was T-shaped, said Helen (Lashbrook) Olson, Lashbrook's sole surviving daughter, who accepted the award on behalf of her family. Alfred and Edna had four children, Willard, Donald, Marion and Helen.

"It means an awful lot to the Lashbrook family," Olson said of the award. "This is a county story, a state and national story."

Olson said she knew her father's cows were special because buyers from all over the country often visited their farm. Her father sold Holsteins to people from 23 states and three foreign countries.

The cows always came first, Olson said. She knew that and didn't mind. In fact, she shared her father's love of cows.

"I lived in the barn, for one reason, I didn't have to help with the dishes," she said.

Her mother often had dinner guests. In addition to potential buyers, the man who did butterfat testing stayed with them two days each month. Her father was one of the first people in the area to sign up for butterfat testing, Olson said.

For several years, beginning in 1929 or 1930, two college students lived with the family. They worked for room and board and attended St. Olaf, she said. During World War II, any ROTC students who attended their church were sure to be invited to Sunday dinner, Olson said.

Both her parents were community-minded. Her mother was active in the Farm Bureau, 4-H and Girl Scouts.

Her father was a lifelong member of the Northfield-Rice Holstein Club, a board member of the Minnesota Holstein Breeder's Association from 1918 to 1935 and a national director from 1938 to 1946. From 1957 to 1964, he was state secretary of the Minnesota Holstein Breeder's Association. He served on the board of directors for the Northfield Farmers Elevator from 1933 to 1957. He retired in 1964.

Her father had his dispersal sale in 1956.

Perhaps one of his best known cows was Lashbrook Pearl Ormsby, born in 1923. In fall 1929, she was sold to the Detroit Creamery Farm in Michigan for $3,500. In 1931, she was sold to J.H. Remick, a music publisher, who had just retired as president of the Detroit Creamery Farm and wanted to start his own herd.

When Remick died in 1932, his herd was sold and Pearl, now a nine-year-old, was sold for $620 to Dunloggin Farm in Maryland. It wasn't certain if she was in calf when she was sold.

Pearl was in calf and she gave birth to Dunloggin Woodmaster, a double grandson of Ormsby Sensation.

The bull proved to be incredibly popular and in 2012, 50 percent of the 362,000 cattle registered in the Holstein breed carry Woodmaster genetics, said Larry Tande, a retired Holstein breeder who spoke at the ceremony.

Olson, who compiled a history of the Holstein breed in Northfield, said her father is one of the reasons Northfield's slogan is "cows, colleges and contentment."

Alfred James Lashbrook died in 1976.