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260 years of existence

15 Januari 2014

Actually, Volken Holtrop (96) would not become a farmer at all, he says in his apartment in the Heerenveen care center Coornhert State.

His heit received a lot of comment when he sent his second son to secondary school in the Depression 1930s. "Narrus, do kinst 'm oars ek wol brûke," the people would say.

But Bernardus Theunis and mem Antje, who milk five cows, thought that their children should be better off than they had it. Moreover, the 'pleats' was already intended for Volken's older brother, Theunis. When Volken passed after four years and then "grandiose sakke" for the entrance exam of the "breeding", he still came to the farm to save "in djoere help". His older brother Theunis had already died by then, he was only sixteen.

The Holtrop family has been farming in Delfstrahuizen for nine consecutive generations, or 260 years.


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The 96-year-old put his life and family history in writing several years ago. On the advice of his family and the elderly association. "Dy hat ús that oanrieden", says daughter-in-law Geeske Holtrop. "If there is ever demint, we are fine to talk to him about it."

And of course it is also nice to know that a distant ancestor fled from the German Münsterland to Oosterwolde in the war of religion around 1600.

There he became a minister, and then his son too. But the great-grandson of that German refugee, Jan Bernardus, was the first Holtrop to settle as a farmer in Delfstrahuizen, in 1753.

His name can be read on the painting, which the family had made on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the company. And after that came Bernardus Jans, Brother Bernardus, who experienced the Flood of 1825 and observed that not the fresh water of the Tjeukemeer, but the salt of the Zuiderzee surrounded his 'pleats', Bernardus Broers, Theunis Bernardus and Bernardus Theunis, before the turn was to Volken, the seventh generation.

After their wedding in 1942, Volken started a "spultsje" on the Polle in Rotsterhaule with his wife, the daughter of a biscuit baker, Baukje Modderman ("út in húshâlding fan sechtjin man, werûnder seis feinten").

He also helped his guy. Those were poor times. Volken remembers the evening on which his heit and mem were counting. "Neither twa jier and then it is finished," his heit concluded. It was a few years "foardat Drees der wie" with his state pension.

In 1951 a milking machine was installed, in 1952 Volken and Baukje moved with their three children to the pleats at Marwei with his parents. That same year, his boy died, aged 69. "Hy lei samar dea."

Baby boy and fourth child Minne turned out to have the most 'farmer's blood'. With his Geeske, a farmer's daughter from Rotsterhaule, he took over the company with seventy cows in 1978.

Volken and Baukje moved to a flat on the Sperwer in Heerenveen. ,, Eltsenien sei: 'That will be neat'. But the earste jierren who I der allinnich to iten and sleep, '' says the 96-year-old.

Skoanheit was a welcome help to Minne and Geeske, who had five children. And now their sons Bartele (27) and Theunis (25) are now also part of the company.

In addition to milking 195 cows, the family runs a recreation business with a campsite and activities such as farmer's golf, mud baths and cuddly toys.

"We cuddle some wool, all just in May in ko," jokes Volken, who is satisfied that his family is "good gien". He knows too many examples that started as a farmer and ended as "feint".

Minne, Geeske, Bartele and Theunis are happy to open their stable doors to show 'lay people' how things are going on their farm. "Promoasje foar de sektor", says Geeske.

"That is important," Theunis adds. "We hâlde de minsken foar that we just may well omge ús ladies, dogge se that just may ús."


Written by: Wietske Koen, Leeuwarder Courant 15-01-2014

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