(Le Mars) — Long-time Plymouth County resident, Norm Barker has a birthday today, (Wednesday, November 18th). He becomes a centenarian as he marks his 100th birthday. Having been around for 100 years, Norm Barker has seen a lot
of changes within his lifetime. Barker, a retired farmer, now resides in Le Mars, but says he can recall when his father was farming using an old steam engine.
Barker is considered by many to be a pioneer and innovator in agriculture.
Long before it became popular, Barker was practicing soil conservation by installing terraces on his farm, and conducted contour plowing. He says it started with a term paper that he had written while attending Western Union College, the predecessor to the former Westmar College.
Barker acquired a farming operations agriculture certificate through Iowa State University and has been honored many different times because of his farming practices. He was the first Plymouth County farmer to receive the distinction of being named “Master Farmer” by the Wallaces Farmer publication, and he was interviewed and featured in an edition of the National Geographic magazine. Barker says his family was the first in Plymouth County to grow soybeans. One agriculture invention that made Barker’s farming career somewhat easier was the mounted corn picker. Prior to the introduction of that implement machine, Barker recalls when he had to pick his corn by hand.
Norm Barker is a serious keeper of records, having saved receipts and cancelled checks dating back several decades showing what he had earned for selling his farm goods, and the costs of purchasing farm machinery, and production input costs. He talks about the yields of his crops when he first began farming.
Norm Barker is one of the most interesting people you can ever meet. He is sharp, witty, intelligent, a World War II veteran, and was named as a Le Mars Community School Distinguished Alum, and at 100 years of age, he remains active, and still volunteers his time at the Plymouth County Historical Museum. Happy Birthday Norm! May you live another 100 years.
(photos courtesy of Norm and Ruth Barker)