“Labor of Love” Leads to Tours of Historic Tyden No. 6 Farm

NORTH CENTRAL IOWA FARM COUPLE ROLLS OUT THE WELCOME MAT, AUG. 26-28

“Visit the past with a touch of the present,” is the inviting headline on a brochure about Tyden No. 6 Farm Tours.  Ted and Judy Pitzenberger of Dougherty, Iowa, are opening their 10-acre homestead to guests on Aug. 27-28.  There is a limit of 40 people per tour, so call 641-794-3341 today to reserve your spot!

“We’ve really enjoyed restoring this place, but it wouldn’t be nearly as fun if we couldn’t share its history and the story of Emil Tyden with others,” says Ted, as he and Judy walk with me inside the stately barn.

Col. Emil Tyden

Col. Emil Tyden, a Swedish immigrant, came to this country in the 20th century with only $20 to his name and went on to become a successful inventor and entrepreneur.  He held 200 patents, and one of those was for a metal seal that is still being used by railroad and trucking companies today to secure freight.  With profits from his manufacturing businesses, Tyden built eight farms in Floyd and Butler Counties.

Tyden’s farms were extremely unusual at the time as he built them during the Great Depression and he built them with grandeur.  But, he also built them to be functional and profitable.  The video link below includes an interesting 5-minute documentary on Col. Tyden and his North Central Iowa farms. (NOTE:  WHO Radio listeners may recognize the narrator’s voice of beloved farm broadcaster Lee Kline, who is Judy’s second cousin.)

The Pitzenberger family has been connected to the landmark Tyden farms for years.

“We started our married life at Tyden No. 3 in the hired hand’s house because Ted’s dad lived in the main house,” says Judy.  “Then we had a chance to buy Tyden No. 6 and moved here in 1994.”

Tyden No. 6 has been a “labor of love” for the past 17 years and it shows.  The Pitzenberger farm has been named “one of the prettiest farms” by Our Iowa magazine.  They have taken great care to restore the massive red barn, which measures 40 x140 feet and could hold 20,000 bales of hay.  Another of the farm’s distinguishing features is a 60-feet tall corn crib made from concrete block.  There is also a summer kitchen stocked with pans, utensils and bottled soap from Judy’s family.  And as a young boy, Ted ate cookies straight from this oven that is the cornerstone of the summer kitchen.

The Pitzenbergers have so many interesting stories to tell.  Ted also makes sure he gets the story behind each piece of vintage farm equipment he buys.  Most recently, he purchased a horse- drawn sickle mower that he literally had to cut out of a tree.  He learned it was used in 1920s.

Even their flower beds tell stories!  Family heirlooms in the flower gardens add charm and whimsy.  A rock garden displays their family tree by including stepping stones with footprints of Ted and Judy’s parents in some and footprints from some of their 13 grandchildren in others.  (Grandchild number 14 will arrive in September.)

With an appreciation for history and a love of agriculture, it’s only fitting that the Pitzenbergers are the owners and caretakers of a farm listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It’s also fitting that they’re carrying on the legacy that Col. Emil Tyden left of “implementing science into farming practices” with the way they raise crops today.  They farm beside two of their sons, Phil and Ian, in Floyd and Butler Counties.  Their oldest son, Troy, lives in New Hampton with his family.  Their youngest daughter, Jenay, lives in Cedar Rapids with her family.

When this family gets together, there’s sure to be good times and good food like Judy’s versatile Amish Butter Cookies.  I’m looking forward to mixing up a batch soon!

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Amish Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. margarine
  • 1 c. cooking oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ c. flour
  • 1 tsp. soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (or almond or coconut flavor –  I love almond!)

Directions:

  1. Combine 1st four ingredients.
  2. Beat well.
  3. Add eggs and beat again.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and mix.
  5. Chill 1 hour.
  6. Roll into small balls and coat with sugar.
  7. Place on greased cookie sheet and flatten with a fork.
  8. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

COOK’S TIP:  My grandchildren have fun helping me make these cookies, and we use different color sugar for the holidays.  We top the cookies with pastel sugar for Easter, red and green sugar for Christmas or red and blue sugar for Fourth of July.


Photo from CookingClassy.com