Tina Schrag grew up on a dairy farm northwest of Goessel. Her husband, Ben, grew up in Moundridge and in towns in Nebraska and Illinois. They met as students at Bethel College, then married and lived in North Newton and Hesston. Two sons made them a family, but until recently, they felt something was still missing. That void filled when they moved from Hesston to the farm where Tina Schrag grew up and into a house built by her great-grandfather, Abram Reimer, several days before Christmas.
“My great grandfather built this house over 130 years ago when he immigrated here from Russia,” she said. “It was passed on to one of his two daughters, my grandmother, Betty Schmidt and her husband, Harvey.”
The farm, called Emma Creek Farms, has long operated as a large cattle dairy with 120 cows and approximately 2,700 acres of wheat, corn, and soybeans. Brothers Bruce and Jim Schmidt, sons of Harvey and Betty Schmidt manage all aspects of the farm. Schrag’s parents, Jim and Mary Schmidt, built an additional house on the farmyard just after they were married almost four decades ago, while Bruce and his wife, Eileen, live just a mile west around the corner of the home place.
Schrag said she remembered venturing over to her grandma’s house almost every night after supper, just to see what she was doing, or might have for dessert. She also spent summers working for the dairy, getting cows in for milking and helping with harvest.
“Since we’ve been here, the boys just love it,” she said. “It warms my heart to see them connect with their grandparents like I was able to with mine.”
She said that Noah, 5, and Levi, 4, like to go over to their grandparent’s house just 50 yards east of their own home, to see what is for breakfast.
“Sometimes it is still dark when they go over,” she said. “They aren’t afraid or anything. It is such a special connection for them.”
Schrag also said their sons immediately immersed themselves in farm life.
“They are endlessly fascinated with the cows,” she said. “Any time a cow is close to freshening, a light is left on in the barn, and they just can’t wait to see a calf born. They are always running out to peak around the corner in the barn. Unfortunately, so far they have managed to miss it each time.”
Though they have had to adjust to a smaller living space inside, Ben Schrag said everything about their recent move was good.
“We went from 2,500 feet of space inside and a full finished basement to play in, to a much smaller living area, but if it gets too crowded, we just open the door,” he said. “We’ve been here two weeks and we definitely know we made the right move.”