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150-year farm knots Batchelder family

Judy Batchelder Clyde still remembers getting roused in the middle of the night to catch chickens. She remembers picking apples across the road and cranking an old press to make cider. She remembers going out to the little milk house every night, where she churned a paddle in a square glass container to make butter.

Clyde remembers growing up happy. So do her siblings, Lewis Batchelder and Anne Batchelder. That’s why they’re dedicated to keeping 200 acres in Helvetia on West Union Road owned by the family and actively farmed.

The Batchelders gathered up the memories and records from the last 156 years and applied for the Sesquicentennial Award through the Oregon Farm Bureau’s Century Farm & Ranch program. They’ll attend an Oregon State Fair ceremony Aug. 23 with eight farm owners receiving the Century Farm award, along with one other farm that has reached sesquicentennial status, granted to families who have owned, lived on, and farmed or managed the farming of the same parcel of land for at least 150 uninterrupted years.

The little things — buying butter for the first time and not liking it, making cider with an electronic juicer now, gathering eggs at the grocery store instead of the barn — have added up to a strong appreciation for their family farm.

“It was always a struggle to make a living,” Clyde said of her childhood. “We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t know that.”

“It was an easy life even though it was hard work,” said Lewis Batchelder, who participated in 4-H and took on a lot of the farm work growing up. “Farming was a 12-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-in-a-year job. But it was pleasant.”

The Batchelder farm got its start with James Hayward, who purchased 447 acres in 1858 and later bought an additional 45 acres. William Batchelder married Victoria Hayward, James and Phoebe Hayward’s only daughter. William and Victoria lived on the farm many years, raising grain and hay and selling timber.

In 1912, William and Victoria moved to Hillsboro. They passed their farm on to their children, James and Elmer Batchelder, and the granddaughter of their late daughter, Martha Batchelder Pasley.

Elmer Batchelder lived on his portion of the property until he retired in 1965. His property was partially sold off, but his daughter, Jean, still owns 55 acres.

James Batchelder retired in 1944. His son, Wesley Batchelder, purchased the farm from his father in 1952 with his wife, Marie. Wesley and Marie raised Anne, Lewis and Judy on the farm along with dairy cows and poultry they raised for eggs. Their farm was designated as a Century Farm in 1958.

“My parents were very proud it had been in the family for five generations” and that the farm was older than Oregon, said Clyde, who’s lived in the renovated farmhouse since 1996. The original house was lost to a wood stove fire in 1980.

Currently, they lease a large portion of their land to local farmer Spencer Gates, who raises clover, wheat and grass seed. Judy also maintains a fruit orchard with her husband.

“It’s a unique way of life anymore. Not everybody has an opportunity to enjoy a piece of property like this,” said Clyde, who recently retired from her position as an executive assistant at Intel. “I know how much of a privilege it is. My parents worked very hard to raise us here. They worked hard to make it work.”

“It gave us a solid background and an appreciation for life. My parents worked so hard to maintain it, I want to maintain that history,” added Batchelder, who worked for a global agribusiness firm. “That’s what this farm really means to me — family.”

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