Wallaces Farmer

Master Farm Homemaker strives to continue learning

Mary Boysen, of Wapello, Iowa, was named a 2023 Iowa Master Farm Homemaker. She serves as the superintendent of the Ag Building at the Iowa State Fair and runs her family’s farm.

Jennifer Carrico

August 16, 2023

3 Min Read
Woman standing next to Ag Building at Iowa State Fair fairgrounds
FARMING EXPERIENCE: Mary Boysen of Wapello, Iowa, poses by the Ag Building at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, where she has served as superintendent of the building for many years.Jennifer Carrico

A strong partnership from the beginning of her time on the farm has led to Mary Boysen being able to continue to run the farm with the help of her family the past several years. This Iowa Master Farm Homemaker still lives on the same farm she moved to with husband Larry in 1968.

“We started farming in 1964 when we were married and were lucky enough to purchase our current place four years later,” Boysen says. After her husband’s death in 2016, she was able to continue to run the farm with the help of her children, their spouses and her grandchildren.

The farm

“We got our feet into farming with hogs. We started with sows and eventually put up a finishing barn. The hogs helped pay the mortgage off,” Boysen says. “I helped in the hog barns, especially sorting pigs. By the late 1990s, we rented out the finishing building. Now grandson Kale has taken over the building.” Kale also cares for the cow herd Larry started, which has been downsized in the past few years.

Their farm also includes corn, soybeans, hay and pasture. Many of the rest of Mary’s family is nearby to help on the farm. Son Aaron passed away in 2018, but his wife and children are nearby and help Mary when needed. Son Duane lives on a farm in rural Morning Sun with his family. He has his own farm ground and machinery, but can be found helping on the home farm quite often. He also is good at doing maintenance on the machinery and keeping it all running right. Youngest son Adam is a teacher at Kirkwood Community College.

Boysen’s 12 grandchildren range in age from 8 to 33. Several are graduates of Iowa State University and are involved with agriculture through their jobs. Her eight great-grandchildren are learning about farm life by either living on a farm or visiting Boysen’s.

The fair

The Boysens are a close-knit family, and they even all have their campers in a group at the Iowa State Fair. Boysen serves at the superintendent of the Ag Building at the fair and moves her camper there in late July. Her journey at the annual event started by volunteering in the sheep barn. She switched to the Ag Building when that need arose, where she has organized the building since 1999.

“The best thing about the fair is the people. From the exhibitors to vendors and commodity groups to the fairgoers, many I see only at the fair — and they have become like family,” she says. “I strive to make the building look different every year. Very few people would realize that the exhibits, especially the flowers, rotate throughout the fair. The fresh-cut flowers and plants will only stay nice so long. We have 4-H, FFA and open class all at different times.”

Boysen says there are new and different things each year in the Ag Building, which keeps it fun. Commodity groups and the state department of agriculture change their displays. The butter cow is a mainstay for the building, but the additional butter sculptures change every year.

The Boysen family has been very involved at the Louisa County Fair as well. Boysen’s children and grandchildren exhibited livestock and now the great-grandchildren are showing there. Larry served on the Louisa County Fair board, and now they give an award to the grand champion steer exhibitor in his honor.

Boysen is also an active member of the Wapello Presbyterian Church, PEO, Community Action Board, Louisa County Community Foundation Board and Garden Club, and she served as a flower show judge for many years. She’s always willing to help others and wants to learn something new.

Larry always encouraged Mary to go out and learn more things. She always had the support of her family to become more knowledgeable, which has helped her become a 2023 Iowa Master Farm Homemaker.

About the Author(s)

Jennifer Carrico

Jennifer Carrico of Redfield, Iowa, runs a small cow-calf operation with her family. She is a former editor of Wallaces Farmer.

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