Tomlinsons, Kubiks, Mitchells to be honored as Century Farms

Diversity keeps farm going for Ray and Jo Ellen Kubik

Ray and Jo Ellen Kubik pictured this past summer alongside one of their grandchildren, Kennedy Kubik. The Kubiks are one of three Tama County farm families to receive Century Farm recognition this year by the Iowa Dept. of Ag and Land Stewardship. -Photo courtesy of Jo Ellen Kubik's Facebook page

Three separate Tama County farm families are set to be honored on Thursday, August 18, at the Iowa State Fair with Century Farm designations including Mark and Cindy Tomlinson and Dallas and Kaitlyn Tomlinson of Traer (est. 1911); Ray and Jo Ellen Kubik and family of Traer (est. 1908); and Cynthia and Wade Mitchell of Traer (est. 1922).

A total of 351 Iowa farm families will be recognized this year with Century or Heritage Farm designations. The Century Farms and Heritage Farms programs celebrate farms that have been owned by the same families for 100 and 150 years, respectively.

The Century Farms Program began in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial Celebration, when over 5,000 certificates and farm markers were distributed across Iowa at local ceremonies. The Heritage Farms Program was established by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship in conjunction with the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation in 2006.

The following article about the Kubiks was written for the Iowa Farm Bureau Spokesman by freelance writer Steve Meyer. The North Tama Telegraph plans to include photos from today’s Iowa State Fair event in Des Moines of the three Tama County farm families receiving their Century Farm designations in an upcoming edition.

The 470-acre farm farmed by Ray Kubik of Traer has a unique history as each generation has adapted to its situation and worked to pass the land on to the next generation.

The farm had its origins in 1908 when Joe Kubik, Ray’s grandfather, purchased the first 160-acre tract for $115 an acre. Over the years, the farm grew as additional purchases were made. The land passed from Joe Kubik to his sons, Ted and Milo (Ray’s father), and then eventually to Ray.

Currently, Ray raises corn, soybeans, and hay and has a 110-head Angus/Simmental cow-calf herd plus some horses.

A diverse history

The farm and family have a diverse history including operating a saw mill and raising ostriches.

The family kept the farm through the Great Depression by running a sawmill operated by Joe, Milo, and Ted. They sawed logs from their own land and sold the boards, and also processed lumber for other landowners.

Eventually they cleared 50 acres of timber that was put into row crops for 20 years and eventually converted to pasture.

Ray recalls helping at the sawmill as a boy. He says they used the farm’s first tractor, a steel-wheeled Case Model L, to power the mill. The next tractor on the farm was a John Deere 40. Both the L and the 40 are still on the farm.

The original farmhouse was built in 1959 and was the only house Ray ever lived in until 2017 when he and his wife Jo Ellen built a new log home that overlooks the pasture on the site of the farm’s former stand of timber. The home is located northeast of Traer.

Ray and Jo Ellen have been involved in many pursuits on the farm. They have raised sheep, llamas, horses and exotic animals for a petting zoo they used to take to local community events. They even had a 30-head flock of ostriches for seven years.

“Ostriches were not a great money maker, but they were a real highlight in our lives,” Jo Ellen said. “They were something different and interesting that brings back lots of good memories – a real unique experience. You had to be careful around them – they could kick you and kill you.”

The Kubik farm still has a sizeable tract of timber.

“The timber has been a real good place to raise kids. I always tell my kids the woods are good for your soul,” Ray said.

Ray has original land patents for two 80-acre homesteads that are part of the farm. They were signed by Presidents James Buchanan and Franklin Pierce.

Ray has three older sisters: Pat, Judy, and Beverly. Ray and Jo Ellen have four children: Cassandra, Theodore, Alexander, and Sierra. Jo Ellen is a nurse who is currently working as a psychiatric nurse practitioner.

To qualify as a Century Farm, a family must have owned at least 40 acres for 100 years or more. In the case of a Heritage Farm, ownership must span 150 years or more.

For more information on the Century and Heritage Farms programs visit the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and Land Stewardship’s website: https://iowaagriculture.gov/century-and-heritage-farm-program