All About Us And Our Branson History
Hello “Rancher Don” here again from Branson. Cinch up and get ready for our About Us page including our Branson history. My wife Marilyn and I went to the same high school and the year I graduated we were introduced to a teacher that sold real estate. He had a listing for a 160 acre farm with a small cabin on it. We got married that same spring and bought the farm. We said we would live in a tent before we would pay rent so we moved into the little one room cabin. It had a well that went dry soon after we moved in and the cabin wasn’t insulated. It was located up on a big hill with a winding driveway that was unusable in the winter as we had no machinery to plow it. We had to carry all our supplies about a block up the deep snow trail and with no insulation in the cabin we burnt about 5 gallons of fuel oil a day and we carried all our water, food and other supplies. We lived trough the winter even dealing with the out house “ufda” but the next summer I started clearing a building site at the bottom of the hill and we used one horse to pull stumps and brush. The first thing we built was a garage as that is one of the most needed items when the winter temperature drops to 20-30 degrees below zero. We had a basement excavated and we built it ourselves and moved into the basement just at the beginning of the next winter.
We were living in the basement with a flat roof and it didn’t seem to matter what we tried to cover it with it always leaked every time it rained or snowed. We had as many as 60 cans catching drips at one time. We had to put plastic over our piano and anything else we didn’t want wet including the bed. We had a couple horses a cow and a couple goats along with our dog of course. We both worked in the city and worked on the farm in our spare time. We financed the house building and whenever we got the little loan at the credit union paid we took out another and started the next phase. I sawed the lumber with my sawmill. We lived in the basement for about 15 years before the upstairs was finished. We were sure glad when we could afford to start building the top of the house and eventually actually have a roof with shingles on it.
Then we started building barns and such and purchasing more land on a contract for deed. For almost 50 years we kept buying real estate and built our Ranch up to 1000 acres. We had a Cow/Calf beef herd and about 6 horses. We bought all our machinery and put up our own animal feed and hay. We froze our hands and butts off many a below zero night trying to get newborn calves born outside dry and warm before they froze there ears and tails off. We had some with bobbed ears and tails when we failed. After about 20 years of that we finally had time and money to build a nice Calving barn where we had box stalls to bring them in and help them with their new calves. We also had a place in Montana for about 10 years mostly used for hunting and vacations and we sold it when we bought the Branson Home because we thought it made a worse winter home place than northern Minnesota.
I worked for a major airline in Duluth MN and my wife worked for the County Social Services. Being I worked for the airline we were able to travel on passes and used them many times to fly to Alaska, Puerto Rico, Spain, Hawaii, Acapulco and all kinds of exciting places. We adopted a infant boy first and later a girl and I remember once the airline was going to discontinue the route from Duluth to Winnipeg so I took the family to the airport and we rode one of the last flights and had supper on the flight and went through customs in Canada and bought some souvenirs so the kids could take them to show and tell and tell the kids we took a round trip to Winnipeg for supper. I retired from the airline in 1993.
In 1954 at the age of 17 my older brother and I joined the US Naval Reserves. My brother didn’t like being told what to do so he quit after a couple of years but I stayed for 22 and a half years. With the Navy I also got to go many places including Mazatlan and Vera Cruz Mexico and a few more trips to Puerto Rico. I now receive a Navy pension.
I started doing Leather Craft when I was 9 years old and have worked at making personal items like wallets, checkbooks, belts and purses as well as horse related tack items like saddle bags, halters, bridles, harness and even pack horse pack saddles and pannier bags. I am now considered a Master Leather craftsman and have been doing it for well over 60 years. Now I especially love making handgun holsters and rifle scabbards. I now have most of my leather equipment here in Branson.
In MN. we formed a rural fire department and my younger brother was the chief and I was a training officer and I also was the chairman of the Township Board of Supervisors. While in that office I wrote a grant application and we received a grant of 130 thousand dollars and we built a new combination community center and fire hall. I later wrote another one and got another 80 thousand so we could add improvements. I was on the Town board for about 15 years and I am no longer on the fire department serving as firefighter, first responder and training officer now after retiring with 37 years in the Department.
I was on the Soil and Water Conservation board for 15 years and my wife kept a rain and snow accumulation guage and report for them and is still doing it, after 30 years, when we are in MN.
We both have served in officer positions at our local church and my wife played the organ for quite some time before we bought the Branson home.
As we said on the home page we traveled to Branson in 1980 and again in 2000, 2003 and bought our home here overlooking beautiful Table Rock Lake in 2004. We go up to the Ranch in MN during the summer then back down here to Branson for a couple months then back to MN for Deer Season, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The last 2 years we left there with the temperature pegged at 30 below zero so we didn’t mind leaving at all. Our children keep an eye on the Ranch when we are not there.
If you think we are now just sitting on the back deck watching the world go by you are wrong. I am working full time at Internet Marketing and we are new just completing our 3400 square foot boat house and combination wood working and leather shop.
If you have tried to calculate our age by the end of 2015 I will be 78 and Marilyn 77. It’s unbelievable what you can do if you only get out there and work at it. We love Branson and will stay here as long as our health holds up. “Phew” That is about enough about us as sometimes it hurts to just think what we have lived through.
If you added up all the years we served others in the above manner we would be over 225 years old each.