Pair of area farms are featured in 2011 calendar
In the early 1970s, Harvey and Rita Kirchner purchased a home along Goodwin Avenue and the family put down its roots in rural Hastings.
Turns out, the countryside was just the right thing for their daughter, Rollie, who lived with them at the time they moved here.
The countryside is something Rollie grew to love, and the same could be said for Hastings. Put the two together, and you end up with one very cool calendar.
Rollie, who has since married and now goes by the name Rollie Brandt, is a well known painter in Minnesota. Among her favorite subjects, as you have probably guessed, are family farms and rural life in general.
She still considers Hastings a home, even though she now lives in Webster. So, when it is time to go to the dentist, she makes the drive through farm country over to Hastings. On one of those trips in about 2007, she drove by the farm of Mel and Irene Brochman on Goodwin Avenue near Hampton. She saw a young man in a bright red tractor with a beautiful farm scene behind him. Brandt snapped a photo and headed off to the dentist.
Time passed. Then more time.
Finally, Brandt got working on a calendar for 2011 focused on Family Farms.
She came across the photo from the Brochman farm and thought it would be a great piece to include in the calendar.
Problem was, she couldn't remember where she had taken the photo. She knew it was near Hastings, but beyond that her memory had faded. She hopped in car and patrolled the countryside until finally stumbling upon the Brochmans home again. She went up to the door, knocked on it and then began explaining what she was up to.
"We thought it was kind of cool," Irene Brochman said.
Brandt got to know the Brochmans and learned the farm had been in the family for four generations. She also learned the identity of that young man in the tractor: it was Jayme, now 34, who is in the process of taking the farm over from his parents.
With their blessing, Brandt sat down and began painting the scene for the calendar. Earlier this summer, Brandt hand-delivered one of the finished calendars to the Brochmans.
"I think she did a really good job," Irene Brochman said.
"That was a family that was really proud of their farm," Brandt said. "They're just a nice, sweet family. They were all excited, too. They ended up buying about a dozen calendars for family and friends."
Brandt needed 12 paintings for her 2011 calendar, and the Brochman farm fit perfectly in the mix of seasons. It is called "Mel's Harvest."
"When I'm doing my calendar pieces, I don't want just barns," she said. "It's nice to get the farm life. In this case, it was the tractor and the man in the middle, doing his job. I snapped a picture and a few months later I decided to paint that one."
The Brochmans aren't the only local farming family to be featured in the calendar.
Curt and Deanna Haler, who farm south of Hastings along County Road 47, have their farm featured as well.
The Haler's scene includes a white fence, some cattle and a big red barn in the background.
Choosing their farm was an easy decision, Brandt said.
"It's such a nice, neat farm," she said. "Everything is so well taken care of. The white fences. I like those barns with the long ramp going up. I don't see a lot of those anymore. It was a combination of all that."
Deanna Haler ended up purchasing the original painting from Brandt to give to her husband as a 25th wedding anniversary present.
Brandt often drove by the house on her way to and from Hastings.
"Every time I drove by that place for years I wanted to paint it," she said.
Brandt even took a request from Deanna Haler. The Haler family had a cow named Sky who was the children's 4-H project for years. Sky had since passed away, but the Halers gave Brandt a photo of her, and Sky was included in the painting.
On a mission
Brandt enjoys working to get down on paper what family farms look like across Minnesota. Family farm scenes from across Minnesota are included in the calendar.
"I'm always looking at barns and farms, everywhere I go," she said. "The family farms are going away. The small farms have had trouble making it. Then the old guys retire and the kids have jobs in the city."
Other factors, like weather, have hurt the landscape, too, she said.
"We go to Red Wing a lot on weekends, and that route going through Vasa, they had a big storm that wiped out three barns I had taken pictures of that I was going to paint," she said. "It moved them right off their foundation. One of the barns was rebuilt, but it was rebuilt with metal, like a pole building."
Calendars now available online
The 2011 "On the Farm" wall calendar is available from Wild Wings and many other gift shops, as well as online at www.lang.com.
For more on Brandt, visit www.rolliebrandt.com.