Cultivating a family

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 4, 2001

For almost 150 years, the Ruble family has been growing from the same two houses west of Albert Lea.

Monday, June 04, 2001

For almost 150 years, the Ruble family has been growing from the same two houses west of Albert Lea. Farming has changed, and so have most families, but Glenn and Maureen Ruble say their family’s roots are firmly planted on their small farm.

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The farm is located just west of Albert Lea on County Road 46. It is bordered on the north by Lake Chapeau, on the south by Pickerel Lake, and on the east by Albert Lea. A creek runs from through the pasture from the north to the south, surrounded by a grove of trees.

Since it was built in 1890, the family has remodeled and added onto the main house, Glenn said. But it still has the original fieldstone foundation. It is the house where Glenn, his father, and his son grew up. In all, six generations of Rubles have lived on the family farm.

The Rubles’ son Douglass and his family live in a smaller house on the property, built in 1910. Glenn and Maureen lived there the first 15 years of their marriage, and the building has housed several other family members, Maureen said.

&uot;It was built for Glenn’s uncle, his dad’s older brother,&uot; she said. &uot;It’s an interesting little house. It’s housed lots of newlyweds.&uot;

Glenn and Maureen have three children. Kim Gooden and her husband Mike own a farm south of Mansfield, and rent the Rubles’ crop land. Douglass and wife Pam live in the little house with their children Maddy, 9, Grady, 7, and Riley, 5. Their other son, Peter, lives in Hastings with his wife Paula. The Goodens have three adult children: Erin, Katie and Brady.

Douglass works in town, but also raises Corriente recreational cattle, Nubian dairy goats, horses and chickens, and custom feeds dairy beef. Niche farming is about the only way small producers can survive now, Douglass said.

&uot;He came home and farmed with us into the ’80s, but you know how things looked in the ’80s,&uot; Maureen said. &uot;Things weren’t looking very good.&uot;

The Rubles weathered the decade by dumb luck or the help of the Lord, depending on who you ask. Maureen got a job as a financial secretary at Trinity Lutheran Church in Albert Lea. Even still, Glenn seriously considered getting out of farming because of high interest rates and low commodity prices. He was in his 50s and had never had a job in town before, Maureen said.

&uot;That’s a pretty scary move,&uot; Glenn said. &uot;I’m just glad I didn’t have to make that choice.&uot;

Douglass bummed around from 1984 to 1996, working on a ranch in South Dakota and attending Went to South Dakota State University and met his wife, Pam, he said. In 1990, he and Pam moved back to Freeborn County to be near friends, family and the farm.

Douglass enjoyed the values and lessons he learned growing up on the farm, and wanted that for his kids, he said.

&uot;There’s a feeling and a sense of peace out here that I haven’t experienced in the towns I have lived in,&uot; Douglass said. &uot;When I was a kid I spent most of the time down in the creek fishing and that kind of stuff, and our kids, it’s starting to look like that’s what they’re going to be interested in, too.&uot;

The kids feed the chickens and goats, pick eggs, and learn a lot of life lessons, he said.

&uot;Growing up on a farm with the livestock, it teaches you how precious life is,&uot; Douglass said.

&uot;I think as a family unit you do become close because you do things together,&uot; Maureen said. &uot;Hopefully the kids learn to respect their parents in the process.&uot;

Kids growing up on a farm are not even aware of what they are learning – they just absorb it through the lifestyle, Douglass said.

&uot;You certainly learn a work ethic. At least our children did, because they had no choice,&uot; Maureen said.

Pam, who teaches 7th through 12th grade math at Alden-Conger Schools, was raised in an Air Force family and moved quite a bit when she was growing up, she said. She was glad to graft herself onto the Rubles’ roots.

&uot;It’s interesting to have your children grow up so close. They are bopping in here all the time,&uot; Pam said.

&uot;Like the time Riley brought his bicycle in to the utility room so grandpa could hear the air going out of his tire,&uot; Maureen said.

Or the time Grady brought his toast over to have grandpa spread some of grandma’s homemade apple butter on it, she said.

&uot;It’s lots of fun to have them next door,&uot; Maureen said.