CALDWELL— In 1907, a man named George Underkofler decided to plant his roots in southwest Idaho and bought a 40-acre parcel for about $4,000. Underkofler then turned this land into a farm, raising cattle, alfalfa, corn and beans.
Over a century later, that very farm — presently called Andrae Ranch — still exists, now nestled between surrounding development in Caldwell.
As a means of celebrating the preservation of this farmland and piece of history, Andrae Ranch recently received a Century Ranch Award from the Idaho Department of Agriculture and the Idaho State Historical Society. The award “honors and recognizes families that have continuously owned and actively ranched the same land their ancestors did 100 years or more ago,” according to a news release. Since the program’s inception in 1990, over 400 Idaho farms and ranches have been recognized with this award.
“If you think about it, this property has been in our family for 112 years,” said Bart Andrae, the current member of the Andrae family who is still actively operating the ranch. “It’s made it through the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam, the recession we had. ... There’s so much history that has gone on and so much hardship that it’s survived through. And it’s still the same piece.”
Bart said he decided to apply for the award after hearing about the program through his wife, Lisa. They started conducting research and gathering documents to verify the long history of the ranch. He said they had a lot of help from people at the Canyon County Clerk’s Office.
“I don’t think my kids knew exactly how old this place was. There’s a lot that I’ve learned with talking to my family members and just doing some research,” Bart said. “A lot of this information is in book one of Canyon County, so there’s a lot of history of our family in this area.”
After Bart’s great-great-grandfather, George Underkofler, purchased the 40-acre parcel, he farmed it for 33 years. Underkofler built the farmhouse, which is the same structure still standing today. When George died in 1940, he left the ranch to his son, Dewitt Underkofler and his wife, Olive. In 1944, Dewitt’s daughter, Betty Underkofler, married Harry Andrae. After Dewitt’s death, the ranch was left to his two daughters and the name was later changed to Andrae Ranch. The ranch went through some remodeling, with a shop being built, fencing put up and 40 more acres purchased for a feedlot. Once Harry died, Andrae Ranch was left to his son, Brent. Eventually, the 40-acre feedlot was sold and torn down for a subdivision, leaving the original 40-acre ranch intact.
After the sale, Brent Andrae decided to devote his time and hard work to his cabin and he left the ranch to his son, Bart. Today, Bart, his wife Lisa, and their three kids Teisha, Chase and Jacob, all are involved in keeping the ranch going by continuing to raise alfalfa.
While they are very invested in the ranch, both Bart and Lisa also hold full-time jobs. Bart is a service manager at Grizzly Sports, while Lisa works at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation in Caldwell.
“In today’s day and age, (farming) 40 acres is pretty hard to support a family,” Bart said. “Agriculture is one of those things. ... We seem to get the pennies out of every dollar that’s out there.”
Bart said he is concerned about the rapid rate of growth in Idaho and how it’s making it difficult to maintain the family farms throughout the state.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to have a farm,” Bart said. “There are so many things that are challenging as you start getting more and more people in an area. It’s harder to transport stuff down the road. Nobody has any time or patience for you, so it does make things difficult. And you’ve got developers knocking on your door saying we want to give you X amount of dollars and you balance that on what you have.”
Bart and his family have experienced this firsthand, as much of the surrounding area around the ranch has now been turned into housing.
“I’ve seen this when it was all flat and there were no houses on it,” Bart said. “I’ve watched a high school being built. I’ve seen everything grown in around me. It’s difficult. There are a lot more people, less privacy, but we’re trying to maintain our own peace right here and keep the original ground that we have.”
Bart said despite the alarming rate that farmland is disappearing in Idaho, he feels confident in his family’s ability to maintain their 40 acres and continue to preserve the Andrae Ranch legacy for many years to come.