Farm located at the edge of Maries County is nice place to raise Irish Dexter cattle, to ride Tennessee Walking Horses

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 9/29/21

VIENNA — There are three old buildings on the farm owned by Hugh and Deborah Schuetz. The farm is located at the edge of Maries County in the St. James area. One of the buildings is an old …

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Farm located at the edge of Maries County is nice place to raise Irish Dexter cattle, to ride Tennessee Walking Horses

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VIENNA — There are three old buildings on the farm owned by Hugh and Deborah Schuetz. The farm is located at the edge of Maries County in the St. James area. One of the buildings is an old milking barn used when the farm was a dairy operation. There is another old barn and then the main barn, which was built in 1930. It is deteriorating but is still structurally sound.

The old barn is the September selection on Maries County Collector Jayne Williams Maries County Historic Barns 2021 Calendar. Williams said she noticed the big barn when she was traveling on Highway 68 and wanted to include it on her calendar. 

The Schuetz built a house on this farm and Deborah says its home now although they are talking about making some lifestyle changes because both of them are in their 70’s. 

It’s curious how people decide to come to Maries County to put down new roots. Deborah was raised in Davenport, Iowa, not on a farm, but in the city. Deborah says Missouri is different from Iowa as in Iowa there is a lot of crop land with good, black dirt, which she misses sometimes. In Iowa that good black dirt is easy to put a shovel in. In Maries County, putting a shovel in the ground many times means hitting rock.

Deborah left Iowa when it came time to go to college. She chose the college in Kirksville, MO where she earned a teaching degree. It was in Kirksville that she met her husband, Dr. Hugh Schuetz, D.O. The couple lived in the state of Washington for many years. Then, a friend of Hugh’s from Kirksville told him about an opportunity in the town of St. James, MO. A doctor was needed and he took the job at Forest City Family Practice in St. James. They moved to Maries County in 1996.

Their 241 acre farm is located at the end of Phelps County Road 2480, but their home is in Maries County. Their property is at the edge of the county. Their neighbors are in Phelps County. 

The farm was formerly owned by the Hays Ranch, Inc. But, before that the farm was owned by the Wood family. The Wood family had a dairy operation called Wood’s Modern Dairy, St. James, MO. Deborah has a 1950 calendar which is attached to an advertisement about the family dairy operation. 

One of the Wood family members was locally and regionally famous. Deborah said a lot of people used to talk to them about Austin Wood. Not so many people do anymore though. Austin Wood was  born in 1916 and was blind but had a long career in music. (When Googling Austin Wood, one website says he was blind from birth, and another website said he was blinded in a milk truck accident.) Austin Wood performed with his Missouri Swingsters. He lived on the farm and as a  musician he appeared regularly on KMOX/St. Louis’ “Big Old Fashioned Barn Dance” from 1940 to 1943. He worked as a disc jockey on KTTR/Rolla for at least 18 years were he was known as “the singing milkman.” Wood also hosted the live “Nashville Op’ry” at Lake Ozark in the 1960’s. This Wood family farm is what the Schuetz now own.

When they lived in Washington State, the Deborah and Hugh had a 10-acre farm where they raised beef cattle of the Irish Dexter breed. Dexter cattle are a breed originating in Ireland. The smallest of the European cattle breeds, Dexters are about half the size of a traditional Hereford and about one-third the size of a Holstein Friesian milking cow. They continued to raise this breed of cattle once they moved to Missouri and still have 10 females on the farm. The breed is not unknown in the Midwest as there are other farmers in Missouri who raise this type of cow. Deborah said at the Empire Fair in Springfield this breed can be seen as well as others not as typical to Maries County. 

The couple also has a couple of horses. One is a 32-year-old Tennessee Walking Horse and the other is a miniature horse. They rode Tennessee Walking horses when they lived in Washington and continued it here. They rode the horses for pleasure and had fun. 

These days the old barn is used for the horses to come in out of the cold winter weather and when it rains. They store hay in the loft, which a neighbor bales for them. 

They are both retired now and continue to enjoy life in the country. It’s peaceful and quiet while still being close to St. James. They have wonderful neighbors. Deborah said she hopes this farm of theirs will remain a farm far into the future. For now, it’s their home and they like it. She says she has never regretted moving to Maries County.

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