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Normans of rural Pine River named Farm Family of the Year

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Chuck and Barb Norman of rural Pine River were named the 2014 Farm Family of the Year at the Cass County Board meeting held Tuesday night, June 17, in Homebrook Township.

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Susan Wake, Cass County Extension Committee member, presented the award.

Oscar Norman, born in 1902, first bought 80 acres in Walden Township in about 1927 with money he earned working on coal and iron boats. He built a little cabin there, then married in 1930. The couple began a family of eight children when Chuck was born in 1931.

They built a barn with native lumber in 1940 and moved onto their farm in 1941 after living in a cramped, little log cabin on a small nearby farm. They built a new house. Their children attended country school until it closed.

In 1954, Chuck volunteered for military service in the U.S. Army.

Oscar died in 1955, leading to Chuck being discharged from military service to help his mother on the farm. She still had three pre-teen children at home to raise as well tend the farm.

Chuck recalls his mother as being better able to handle the horses, though, than the rest of the family.

This farming included dairy cows and young stock and putting up hay for the horses, sheep and cattle. They raised corn for grain and silage.

Chuck met Barb, who had gone to school in Walker, after he returned from military service. They were married in 1958 and bought the farm from Chuck's mother. In 1976, they also bought an adjacent farm, doubling the size of their farm fields.

They also picked a lot of rocks, he said.

Barb and Chuck have three grown children. Their daughter, Tammy, was 1980 county and regional Dairy Princess. Though scattered across the country, their family reunites for hunting season.

They still live in the 1940 house, but have added a garage, bathrooms and another living room space.

Chuck and Barb have been 4-H members, junior leaders, adult leaders and served on the extension board. He has served on the Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service Board, on his township board, church and cooperative boards and the Pine River State Bank board. He is a member of the American Dairy Association.

Their farm had the first animal waste lagoon in the area for their dairy herd in 1975.

The couple supports 4-H by providing hay for the county fair and high school rodeo.

"We appreciate all the local neighbors and friends that have helped in the time of need," Chuck said.

"Above all, we thank God for our parents and grandparents that came to America and instilled the values that we cherish today," he said. "We feel very honored for this recognition, realizing that in every part of our county and state there are deserving families and people in all walks of life."

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