Curt Krause organizes after a farmers market Friday afternoon. He leases land from his sister, Beth, to grow organic fruitand vegetables. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Curt Krause organizes after a farmers market Friday afternoon. He leases land from his sister, Beth, to grow organic fruitand vegetables. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Snohomish family honored as fair’s Centennial Farm Family

SNOHOMISH — The house doesn’t shake quite as much as it once did when the trains rolled by on the other side of the river.

When the old farmhouse was on piers, it would really rattle, Joyce Kelley, 82, recalled. After a sinkhole tried to swallow it in 1975, the house was righted and put on a concrete foundation. Then it didn’t shake so much.

The farmhouse sits on 10 acres near the Snohomish River. It used to be part of a much larger farm — at least 60 acres at one time — that was bisected by another railroad track and home to a big barn and a busy family.

It’s where Ida Krause grew the first commercial asparagus in Snohomish County while raising six children on her own after the death of her husband in the early 1900s. It’s where Joyce Kelley, formerly a Krause, shared an upstairs bedroom with her younger sister and hurried out back each day after school to round up the cows. It’s the house that Beth Kendall, a Krause until her June wedding, dreamed of living in when she was growing up on her parents’ nearby farm.

The Krauses were honored as this year’s Snohomish County Centennial Farm Family. The program recognizes farms that have been in operation and owned by the same family for at least 100 years.

The original deed for the Krause farm is from 1906 but the house likely was finished around 1910.

Kendall bought the house three years ago from the estate of her grandfather’s cousin. Her younger brother, Curt Krause, leases three acres where he grows organic vegetables. He sells shares of his crops and also brings his produce to farmers markets and the Sno-Isle Food Co-Op.

Kelley lived in the house with her parents and two sisters in the 1930s and 1940s. She’s the middle child. Her dad raised milk cows, grew corn and hay and made silage.

“We had a big, noisy machine in the back yard,” she said. “It’s the wildest smell you ever smelled. You could smell my dad before he even walked in the house.”

They also grew hay and had a big garden and an apple orchard where the kids would work through the summer. They didn’t need to go to town for groceries because they grew just about everything they ate, Kelley said. There was fresh produce in the summer and they canned supplies for the winter.

“We pretty much were homebodies because my dad milked cows every morning and every night,” Kelley said. “School was my big thing. I loved going to school.”

After school, she and her sisters would change clothes and go out back under the railroad bridge that cut across the property to fetch the cows up from the far fields.

There were two railroad lines there in the past, one behind the property and one in the middle. Before the family bought the farm and built the house, there was an “electric park” — an amusement park of sorts — along the railroad that drew guests from Everett and other big cities. The Krauses used some of the wood from the dance floor to build structures on the farm.

The house is original but it’s in a slightly different position than it was more than 30 years ago, Kelley said. In 1975, a sinkhole opened up under the house during a large winter flood. Kelley’s sister was living there at the time with her five children. A couple that had gotten trapped in the floods was staying with them. They all were rescued by helicopter. A few hours later the house tilted into the sinkhole. It was put on the concrete foundation after that.

Now the family jokes that they can blame any problems with the structure on the sinkhole rather than their family’s workmanship.

“You walk uphill in some of the rooms, but we’ll chalk that up to the flood,” Kendall said.

The railroad no longer runs through the property, the barn was taken down before it could collapse and several of the remaining orchard trees had to be cut down. Still, the family continues to work the land. Curt Krause has been farming there for three years. He grows tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, beets, zucchini, onions and squash among other vegetables and fruit. He’s working on cultivating a healthy asparagus crop as Ida Krause did when the farm first started more than a century ago.

“It’s special that Beth was able to keep the farm in the family,” Krause said. “There’s a lot of history here.”

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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