Roghair farm provides trip down memory lane

By Renae B. Vander Schaaf

ORANGE CITY, Iowa — Traveling down Highway 60 along about 430th Street, one is taken back in time.

A farm appears from the era of the early 1900s. There is a large Dutch gambrel roof barn, a chicken house, a pig house, a white farmhouse and a wash house just a few steps away.

It is surrounded by the family vegetable garden.


Dazzling arrays of flowers greet your eyes as you drive down the lane. Sye and Ruth Roghair spend many hours planting, weeding and taking care of their many flowerbeds. Today tulips, Johnny jumpups, grape hyacinths and daffodils are blooming. The bleeding hearts are beginning to show their color. Soon hundreds of iris will be blooming.

Ruth’s love for flowers is evident, as she looks forward to the perennials coming back after a harsh winter and spring. She is planting annual seeds of marigolds, bachelor buttons, love in a mist and African daisies.

"There is always something to do throughout the year," Ruth said. "The names of the irises and other flowers are written in my books so I know the plants I have.

I keep the old favorites but add new varieties each year."

She is drying broomcorn, grasses, caster beanstalks, mullein as well as many other items used in her floral displays that are entered in fairs and contests. The plants have been harvested from her gardens or nearby lands.

While the garden is a full time job, Sye and Ruth have adopted a new project of preserving agriculture history. The red barn was built in 1916 and retains the original horse stalls and cement flooring that was prepared with gravel from the nearby Floyd River.

Sye Roghair had a habit of carving into the barn wall special dates and names. August 15, 1961, is special — that is the day he married Ruth Heusinkveld, a town girl.

It took a lot of work and effort to have the barn straightened and painted.


"A stave silo had to be taken down as it was causing the barn to lean," explained the Roghairs. "The staves that were in good condition have been saved."

It took many hours cleaning and washing the barn, but in 2006 it was given the Barn of Distinction Award by the Iowa Barn Foundation.

The barn now showcases various farm tools and implements that the Roghairs have used through the years. Sye has lived on the farm since he was 14 months old.

Lanterns, baskets, original hay carriers, a kerosene chicken brooder as well as the family’s enamel ware that reminds Sye of one of his many chores of filling the water bucket are present.

"If we don’t preserve this bit of history, it will be gone forever," said Ruth Roghair.

The Roghairs enjoy sharing the peaceful setting on the Floyd River with others.

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