Greeley area family says goodbye to a piece of its history
NORTHWEST OF GREELEY – A slow breeze rustles the papery cornstalks still clinging to the rusted, dusty old farm equipment here. You can see the years have faded the John Deere name on one piece of equipment. On the wall is a dusty sign that states “Prevent Weevil Damage!”
As you walk past the worn, tired sideboards of the buildings, they seem to whisper of a family history that dates back to the early days of Greeley. Of strong men and women and sacrifice and producing as much as you can with sweat and muscles and hard work.
It’s been the Goetzel farm for more than 100 years now, and the family wants to sell it: the buildings, the old equipment, the blacksmith shop, the century-old house.
There will be an estate sale here next month, and the Goetzel family will finally have to say goodbye to the land and house and equipment that is no longer used.
“We used to play with this wagon,” said David Goetzel, the grandson of the original owners. And then our kids and our grandkids played with it.” The wagon is red with rust now, and the rubber along the rims of the wheels has worn away.
When the Wadlin family bought the land in 1878, the Union Colony and Greeley were only eight years old, and the farm was far out in the country. The farm hasn’t moved in the past century, but the cities have, and Greeley and Windsor have edged closer to the old farm.
The Wadlins raised six kids on the land and built a house and barns and raised the crops they needed to survive. One of the kids, Lester Goetzel, inherited the land and part of the farm and stayed. He was David and Ruth and Virginia’s father. The kids have to sell the farm now.
They know the farm has grown old, and it’s time for someone else to take over. The land around it was sold years ago, but the farmhouse and outbuildings occupy about 2 acres.
You can walk the land around the house and outbuildings, see the potato cellar and the old chicken house. You will find the outhouse still there, 25 paces from the back of the house, not used for years.
The wind pushes the red-painted boards of some of the buildings, rattles the chains that hang from the walls, makes the old, hard leather of a horse rig creak in the breeze.
You’ll find old pitchforks here and old coffee cans filled with old nails and the kids’ Raggedy Ann and Andy plastic pool and the scythes and horse halters and wash basins and frayed ropes once used by real cowboys.
The south fence posts are from the frame on an old Model T Ford, the barbed wire from the World War II German prisoner-of-war camp just a few miles to the southwest. “I think our parents may have been the first of the recyclers,” David jokes. “They used car parts for fence posts.”
There are two faded red ribbons still pinned to a wall of one of the buildings. A proud parent probably hung them there from the Weld County Fair. There is still grain in the grain bin, and you can see where the potatoes could be poured into the cellar and sorted and bagged. They used to sell their potatoes door-to-door.
Just a mile or so away, the Goetzel kids would walk to the Bracewell School to learn and grow. One day, they’d move away and the parents could retire and live the rest of their days on the farm.
It’ll be hard for the kids to sell the farm now. They know it.
But it’s time.
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