OTTERTAIL-When Roger and Shari Krause bought a farmhouse on 40 acres in the late '60s, it still didn't have electricity. Roger's minimum wage job only stretched far enough for food and other vital expenses, so the young couple frequented antique furniture auctions to stock their home.
Each "piece of junk antique" they bought for pennies was restored with new parts by Roger and a coat of varnish by Shari.
Decades after that humble beginning, Roger and Shari's retail business, Pine Mill Farm in Ottertail, is celebrating 30 years.
Pine Mill is one of the studios that will be open this weekend as part of the Art of the Lakes 2019 Studio Tour.
In 1989 Roger built a wooden rocking horse for his niece as a Christmas present. It was such a hit that people started reaching out wanting their own. Roger perfected the design, and before they knew it they manufactured more than 7,000 horses over a three-year period.
By the mid '90s Pine Mill transitioned to retail and the farm's original milking barn was turned into a showroom.
Now that showroom is packed with furniture, much of it coming from reclaimed wood.
Roger gets many of his ideas from travelling. Notably the spindles on his kitchen chairs are borrowed from ones he saw in Buffalo Bill Cody's Lodge in Wyoming.
With the 80 hour weeks behind him, Roger says he doesn't miss the old days of wholesale production.
"I'm very happy with what I'm doing now," he said.
Now Roger and Shari stay busy with custom pieces and antique restorations. Much of their business comes from repeat customers and word of mouth.
All of the pieces are finished and stained by Kevin Greenwaldt, who has worked with the Krause's since the start.
"He's got it down to a science," Roger said. "We tell him don't finish it so good, so I won't be as busy."
If you go
WHAT: Art of the Lakes 2019 Studio Tour
WHEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 19 and 20; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, July 21.
DETAILS: Pine Mill Farm will offer free hot dogs, chips and beverages from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, July 20.
MORE INFO: See artofthelakes.org for all studio locations and specials.
Pine Mill Farm
• 46730 County Highway 54, Ottertail