Closing doors for good —Plans to take it easy . . . yeah right

Butch Burnikel will be closing Lime Springs Feed & Equipment on November 30.

by Marcie Klomp

In just a few weeks, Lime Springs will lose a long-standing landmark when Lime Springs Feed & Equipment closes its doors for good. Yep. Butch Burnikel is retiring on Nov. 30 . . . or at least that’s the plan!

Burnikel has been in the business for over 45 years. He worked many years for Kenny Peter at Peter Produce and then purchased the feed mill division of the business in 1988.

Burnikel has seen many changes in his business since opening 23 years ago. “A big part of the business in 1988 and the following years was farm equipment. We sold barn cleaners, silo unloaders, cattle feeders, hog-related equipment, such as farrowing crates, etc. Much of that died when the big hog houses came in. Everybody quit raising hogs, so I lost all that business.”

Other parts of the smaller farming operations have also slowed down over the years. Burnikel explained, “As the old man quit [dairying] and passed it down, the next generation quit. Instead of raising livestock they went to crop farming.” There used to be four to six farms on a square mile and they’re all gone now. “Everyone had lots of pigs, chickens, cows and kids. You don’t see that any more.”

Burnikel picked up loads of eggs while working for the produce; he said a lot of those places are gone. The places don’t even have buildings.

“It was hard work,” Burnikel says, “But I’ve enjoyed doing this. I loved turning the key in the door and meeting the people over the years. And it’s the people I will miss the most.”

He added, “Some people are so happy to get their Social Security at 62. I never felt that way.”

Over the years, he has had some employees including Todd Lancaster, Dan Murphy and Bob Wildman; not to mention bookkeepers, wife Dorene, Mary Schatz and daughter Carla Moser, who has been working at the feed store for 22 years.

With the business slowing down, in June, Butch decided to start taking Monday off. His customers got accustomed to it, which allowed him a little more free time. Come Nov. 30, they’ll have to get accustomed to going elsewhere for their feed and other supplies all the time.

So now it’s time to retire. Butch jokes, “I’m 71-years-old. It’s time for me to get out of Dodge.” He doesn’t really mean that. He and Dorene will stick around. He is just hoping to be able to take a vacation for more than a long weekend. “I love sight-seeing. We might do some trips.”

Before he starts thinking about trips, he’ll have to tackle a few things on Dorene’s list, which Butch says is “this long” [about two feet]!

He doesn’t have a hobby or collect anything (other than volunteering), so how will he keep himself busy? He’s a tinkerer, so folks will probably still see him at the shop where he stores all his toys. He will also start getting rid of his equipment and stock of goods. Look for a reduced price sale in the future.

He’ll also be kept busy with helping the Community Club as he has in the past. Dorene mentioned he has been a member since before Carla was born. That’s been several years ago!

And don’t forget the coffee bunch. He’s still going to open up in the morning for his buddies. How else will he learn all the news about town (other than reading the Herald!)?

Besides tinkering and volunteering around town, the couple will probably spend more time at their cabin on Lake Jefferson near Mankato. He is wondering what it will feel like to get his coffee, go on the deck, put his feet up and look out over the lake for more than three days in a row. It will probably drive this go-getter nuts, but he’s willing to take a stab at it!

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