My name is Greg Shine, and I am the current owner & caretaker of the Shine Family Farm. The following is our story. It all starts in Genesis 1:1 where God created the heavens and the earth. In verse 9 God said, “let the dry land appear” and it was so. In Genesis 1:11 He said, “let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind”, and it was so.

The land, in what later became the state of Iowa, was purchased in 1803 by the US government from the French government. The area now known as Grundy County was mostly covered in prairie grass with trees along creeks. Indians roamed the land until settlers started arriving in the mid-1800s.

Now for some history of this area. The original survey of Grundy County, Iowa, was done on 7-26-1847 by Michael G. Karrick and approved by George W. Jones, Surveyor General. On 10-1-1855 President Franklin Pierce granted the N1/2 of the SW quarter of Section 10, Felix township to Sidney Muzzy of Henry County, Indiana, for an unknown purchase price.

These 80 acres became the south half of our 160-acre farm. Over the next 18 years the land was transferred: -to Joseph F. Muzzy & wife by warranty deed, -to Lucy Jane Peck by warranty deed. -to her husband Henry Hall by quit claim deed. -to Hiram H. Hall by quit claim deed. -And finally sold on 6-22-1876 to John S. King (who ties into our family)

The north half of our farm was part of 320 acres sold to Samuel W. Ferguson by U.S. President James Buchanan on 7-1-1857. This land then went: -to Isaac Winston by warranty deed. -to his brother A.V. Winston & wife, James S. King & wife, R. Onley & wife -Then on 6-13-1872 Richard Onley & wife sold their share to John S. King by quit claim deed.

In 1876 these two 80-acre parcels were now joined together into the 160-acre farm we call the Shine Family Farm, and owned by John S. King – the first in this family farm tree.

This is the original farm house being moved around 1910 from Conrad, 7 miles away. This seems like an amazing feat for that time, considering the steam engine pulling it.

John S. King died on 3-11-1897 and left the 160 acres to his wife Agnes King. Agnes died without a will on 7-13-1916. The land passed to their children. On 6-18-1918 daughter Agnes (King) Shaw, daughter Eleanor (King) Moss, and son Edwin S. King sold their shares to Edwin’s son Ray W. King by warranty deed. Ray King & wife Mary had a lien against the land for $10,000 @ 6% with the Lincoln Joint Stock Land Bank. Ray’s will was filed 7-17-1924. In this will Ray & Mary’s daughter Wahneta (King) Ecklund was directed to pay off the loan with the Land Bank and pay her mother Mary King $500/year for Mary’s life. On 11-27-1934 Mary released her daughter Wahneta King Ecklund from paying the $500/year annuity by quit claim deed. On 11-9-1934 Wahneta & husband Edwin O. Ecklund had a lien placed against the land for $7500 @5% interest with the Federal Land Bank of Omaha. It was released 4-1-1959 when it was paid off.

Northern Natural Gas Company received an easement for a gas line to cross the farm on 10-20-1959. This later allowed my dad Harlan to place a farm tap on the gas company’s line and run natural gas to the buildings.

On 3-1-1965 my parents Harlan & Rose (Bogard) Shine purchased the farm from his aunt & uncle Wahneta & Edwin Ecklund. (Uncle Ed & my grandmother Mabel Ecklund Shine were siblings) The price of $60,632.50 was $383.75/acre with $10,000 down and the balance at a maximum of 20 payments with 4.5% interest.

My wife Brenda (Groeneveld) & I bought approx. 2 acres from my parents Harlan & Rose on 9-29-1976 to build a house for us on the farm. A daughter Nicole and son Daniel were born and raised in that house until 1996 when we moved into Harlan & Rose’s house and sold the small acreage house.

Harlan Shine passed away in 1986, leaving 80A. in trust to my brother Gary Dean Shine and me, and 80A. to his wife Rose. She also received the income from the whole 160A. during her lifetime.

My mother, Rose, passed away on 1-19-2020, leaving my wife & I the south 80 acres. As my brother Gary had passed away in 2013 from cancer, his daughters Christina (Shine) Larue and Emily (Shine) David inherited his undivided share in the north 80A. I rented the 40A. from Christina & Emily in 2020. On 4-30-2021 my wife & I purchased their undivided share in the 80A.

That’s the “nuts & bolts” of the ground and its ownership over time. Now for a little personal stuff.

Grandpa Freeman Edward Shine and his wife Mabel (Ecklund) moved to the farm in 1934 from Brooklyn, IA. They rented it from his sister-in-law, Wahneta Ecklund, where they raised 3 children: aunt Barbara (Shine) Andrew, Aunt Helen Shine, and my dad Harlan. Grandpa raised cattle, hogs, chickens, and horses. He started with horse-drawn equipment and retired with 2 Oliver tractors and tractor-drawn equipment in 1957. I remember my dad saying that when he was in high school, he would drive to the POW camp in nearby Eldora and bring some of the POWs to our farm and nearby farms to help with the hemp harvest. The hemp was used then to make rope for the Navy. [As a side note to that era, my wife Brenda talks about her first visit to Germany, when an older gentleman came up and hugged her, saying “Thank you! Thank you!” When she asked why, he said he was a POW in the midwest during the war years, and it was the best years of his life.]

In 1958, Grandpa & Grandma Shine built a new house in Conrad near the swimming pool. Grandma Mabel loved having me drop in when I worked as a lifeguard at the pool. I usually took my half hour lunch break there; she made the best homemade tapioca pudding ever!

Mom & dad moved from Grinnell, IA. to the old farmhouse in 1958. He had been the working partner in the Ford tractor dealership there. He brought 2 Ford tractors and a 2-row mounted corn picker with him. I was in kindergarten (age 5) and my brother was 2, when they started renting the farm from Aunt Wahneta.

My dad and my brother, probably discussing what needed to get done that day.

We grew up on the farm, and we had great memories of playing in the creek that runs through our farm. We enjoyed playing in the haymow with the neighbor boys, many games of baseball, basketball, and football. We also raised cattle, hogs, and chickens. Mom always wanted a milk cow. Dad said, “whenever you’ll milk one twice a day, you can have one”. Never got one!

Mom was a nurse and was always working toward her Bachelor of Nursing degree, which she finally got from Wartburg College in 1968. She then became a nursing instructor in Marshalltown. As I remember there were some pretty lean years, and her added income was a great help. Because she took so many night classes, Gary & I had a cook-off to see who got out of chores early to make supper. He boiled a pot of water dry – on purpose I think – so I got the job as cook.

In 1968, we built a new house just east of the old house. When it was time to move, we knocked a hole in the old porch wall and put down a few planks to the new front door. It was the shortest move ever!

I graduated from Beaman-Conrad H.S. (now BCLUW) in 1970. I left in the fall for Wartburg College – partly to study and partly to delay going to Viet Nam, as my draft number was #7. I like to say “when I left for college, the cows followed me down the driveway”, as dad decided to stop raising cows at that time. I didn’t think it was fair that my brother didn’t have to do chores all through H.S. like I did. After getting a Social Work degree at Wartburg, I worked for Grundy County as the Juvenile Probation Officer for seven years. In 1980 I started farming with my dad by renting some farm ground. Gary got a business degree at UNI and established a home and construction business in Urbandale, IA. I remember one Christmas when they got stuck in the deep snow on their way to the farm, and dad drove down in his tractor to rescue Gary, Roberta, and baby Christina.

It’s been my joy to raise my son (this was 25 years ago) and daughter, and now grandchildren, on the farm. They also bring their friends out to experience all there is to do on a farm.

My dad Harlan passed away in January 1986. He had retired the previous year, and that was when I started renting the farm ground from them. Mom stayed living on the farm for another 10 years and then announced she was ready to move to town, as her friends wouldn’t come out on the snow-covered gravel roads. The summer of 1996 was busy remodeling Grandpa & Grandma’s house in Conrad, as well as the farmhouse. Eventually we all moved, and we sold the house we’d built on 2A.

When mom passed away in 2020, our son Dan & his wife Manda (Hogancamp), and their 2 girls Sadie & Gemma bought her house in Conrad. So now there has been a Shine living in that house since 1958, and a Shine living on this farm since 1934.

While the grandsons are learning a lot about farming, they also enjoy access to the farm equipment for such uses as a prom date or “bring your tractor to school day”
Cameron putting up hay for the goats he is raising

Our daughter Nicole and her husband Larry Critchfield live 2 1/2 miles away. This has given us the chance to be a big part of their lives. They have 3 grown children: Lacy, Dalton, and Cameron.

The building site on the farm has changed a lot over the years. Gone is the outhouse. We did find the remains of it when planting a tree, dug up some pottery, broken dishes, and lots of bottles that were evidently thrown away in the outhouse hole. Also gone are the chicken house, machine shed, and corn crib. On August 10, 2020, we experienced the worst storm to hit the farm – a derecho with 100+ mph winds scattered our 7 yr.old machine shed all across the farm fields. It flattened the corn and damaged most of the barn (photo), which was the only original building from when we moved here in 1958. The barn was built in 1936-37 to replace one that had burned.

I have been no-tilling the fields for the last 7-8 years and am trying a cover crop again this year. In 2000 we planted 3.5 acres of trees for a wind break, including white oak, maple, white pine, and cedar trees. We have been managing this with the goal of having harvestable trees for lumber in the future.

In 2003 we added to the wind break by planting another 7.5 acres of trees. We are now in the process of thinning these trees for best growth. We have lots of squirrels, rabbits, pheasants, birds, and deer inhabiting the trees. We’re starting to see a few turkeys. Dalton got a large buck in 2020, and Cameron has harvested a couple does. In all 31.3 acres of the farm are in CRP, wetlands, shelter belt, a filter strip along the creek, and the creek itself.

Managing a controlled burn of the grasses on the wetland area near Wolf Creek that runs through our farm
The trees have now grown to be a wildlife habitat and show promise of providing good lumber in the future

Our goal is to preserve the land and leave it better than we found it. Along with our many conservation practices, we use technology for soil sampling and precision fertilizer application, along with side dressing nitrogen.

Growing up on the farm as a kid was hard work. We didn’t have a lot, and when I went to college, I thought I was never coming back. Now, after 41 years of planting and harvesting crops, raising kids, helping with grandkids, and looking forward to the first great-grandchild, I am thankful to God for the blessing of living on the land. Brenda has often said, “I didn’t marry a farmer”, but when I asked if she was ready to move to town, her response was “no way!”

One great memory came in Dec. 2015 when we had an unusually heavy rainfall that flooded our front yard, ditch, and road. My wife insisted that we needed to get a Christmas tree that week. So, the grandsons and I went out to our large windbreak of trees that were just the right size by then, and brought one back to the house by canoe. Probably the best Christmas tree we ever had
In Dec. 2015 our Iowa Hawkeyes played in the Rose Bowl, so naturally we had to honor Grandma Rose Shine with a bowl of roses
At the Iowa State Fair where we were honored with a Century Farm Award. I only wish I’d looked into this when my mother was still living, as our family has been farming here for over 140 years now. Thank you to the Iowa Dept. of Agriculture and the Farm Bureau.

Growing up on the farm has allowed me to learn a lesson that the apostle Paul preached. I have learned how to live in times of little (the 60s & 80s) and times of plenty (70s, early 2010s, and ’21) and to be thankful to the Lord at all times. It’s been a wild ride maintaining this piece of God’s earth. I hope you enjoyed this story about a piece of Grundy County soil. If you wish to contact me for more info, my email is Greg Shine 29348 E Ave Conrad, IA 50621    

Corn to Whiskey