Lind: This North Dakota outhouse is nicer than you'd expect
In today's "Neighbors" column, a reader explains why the building is lovingly named after a Swedish grandmother.
Kelly Krohn made a marvelous improvement on the family farm at Harvey, N.D., when he took it over a few years ago; he built a modern outhouse.
Needless to say, that structure comes in mighty handy when family get-togethers are held there.
“Of course,” Kelly writes “Neighbors,” “my grandparents and many of my cousins had outhouses on their farms. It was a huge deal when they either got plumbing or moved into town!
“When I bought a nice shed from a local builder called Northland Sheds and made it into a modern outhouse with plumbing, the company decided to share our story with its customers.”
Kelly sent a copy of that story to “Neighbors.” Part of it follows.
Fixing the place up
It’s not normal for one of our sheds to be bought and turned into an outhouse (the company’s story reads).
It’s definitely not normal for an outhouse to be named after a Swedish grandmother.
But abnormal things often have an interesting story behind them. This shed/outhouse is no exception.
When Kelly Krohn contacted us about needing a shed for an outhouse, we started paying attention. Our attention was rewarded.
Kelly grew up in Harvey where his parents ran the drugstore in town for over 30 years. His mother was one of seven kids from a rural family. Kelly clearly remembers visiting his cousins when he was young and having to use the outhouse in the backyard since their families were in a rural setting without indoor toilet facilities.
In the 1970s, Kelly’s father (Odell, now of Fargo) purchased a 30-acre farm just a few miles out of town. But it wasn’t much of a farm. The property, which used to be an old boarding school, did not have much on it and was primarily pasture. But his father had a vision and set to work. He added a storage building, put up fences, planted trees, built a driveway and moved in a gorgeous barn from 20 miles away.
He gutted the first floor (of the barn), put in horse stalls, a shower room and a tack room. The barn also had a large loft that his father used for storing hay bales.
This was the beginning of the O & M Crown Morgan Horse Farm.
Over the years his father continued to improve the farm and turned it into a beautiful boarding and riding farm for Morgan horses.
Around 10 years ago, Kelly’s parents were getting to the point where they needed to sell the farm. Kelly had always said he wanted first chance at it, so he bought the farm and started developing his own vision for the property.
In reflecting on what Kelly has accomplished on the farm in the last 10 years, his father says, “I built a beautiful horse place, but Kelly has turned it into a beautiful horsin’ around place.”
Since taking over the farm, Kelly has spent a lot of energy into turning it into more than just a horse farm. It is now also a retreat and party space where family and friends hook up RVs, hang out and “horse around.” (He recently hosted a wedding party there, Kelly tells “Neighbors”).
Kelly has brought in water and electricity to the property and set up an RV park in the central yard with room for eight hookups. He added a new steel barn for storage and turned the former hay loft into a large party space with its own stage, sound system and bar — a space that has held up to 125 people.
Then they came up with the idea to purchase a small shed and turn it into an outhouse.
This is where Northland Sheds comes into the story. Kelly found us through a Google search and called up Leona in the office.
He says, “Leona and I hit it off well and we designed it together. It turned out exactly the way I wanted it. We laughed a lot, too, as we designed it. We were able to match the colors of the shed with the new steel building on the property so that it complements the farm well.”
The outhouse was finished in time for a family reunion. It was at the reunion that, as Kelly and his cousins reminisced about the past, they decided to name the house after their Swedish grandmother, Gunda.
It may seem strange at first to name an outhouse after a delightful lady. But when it is the nicest outhouse in North Dakota and when it captures a heritage of ingenuity and making do with what you’ve got, naming it “Gunda’s Outhouse” makes all the sense in the world.
Kelly tells us that his shed/outhouse has served him well. While the composting toilet has struggled to keep up with the workload when there are groups of 125 partying in the barn loft, it holds up quite well for the normal small groups of family and friends who hang out in the RV yard and around the campfire.
Mom’s a good sport
That was the story Northland Sheds, based in Milbank, S.D., sent out.
Kelly says his parents, Odell and Marge Krohn, moved to Fargo 10 years ago to have better access to medical care and to be near their daughter Kristy Albrecht, an attorney in Fargo.
Their name Krohn means “crown” in German.
“My mother never rode horses, but she was a great sport to go along with my dad’s hobby,” Kelly says.
Kelly is an orthopedic physician in Phoenix, Ariz., but also sees patients in Harvey once a month.
He’s the divorced father of five children who, he says, “are great kids who live all over the world and who love our farm.”
If you have an item of interest for this column, mail it to Neighbors, The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107, fax it to 701-241-5487 or email email@example.com.