By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are hidden gems all across our fine state; places where creative people are doing unique things.

That holds true at Bob Gatt’s farm in Cushing, where livestock, vegetables and violins all cross paths — drawing both musicians and curious passers-by to his homestead.

Bob has restored these century-old barns, and every year he holds a free Sheep Camp festival where curious visitors can check out his farm.

He has dozens of chickens, 30 sheep and a Norwegian fjord horse.

He and his wife, Kristen Blann, also grow 75 percent of the food they need.

“I like the idea of taking care of problems like that myself,” Bob said.

Bob Gatts at work (credit: CBS)

Bob Gatts at work (credit: CBS)

Hands-on, outside work is one thing — but the inside chores require even more skill.

“I like working with wood and playing music, so it’s a natural combination,” he said.

Musicians with broken violins, cellos and guitars have been taking their instruments to Bob for more than 40 years. The evidence can be found on the wall in his Obligato Violin Shop.

“Instruments hanging everywhere, and I immediately coveted one of the violins,” Kristen said. “I think I married him for the violin.”

As the former head of his own band, Bob takes a quieter, more meticulous approach to this work.

“I love rock and roll, and I played a lot of it, but to me it doesn’t describe working on a violin very well,” Bob said.

He repairs close to 250 string instruments a year of all shapes and sizes. His work has even made it to the big stage.

Ms. Minnesota Rebecca Yeh had her violin repaired by Bob before the Miss America competition. His wife and daughter took note right away.

“Both of them mentioned at the same time, ‘I hope that bow repair holds up and doesn’t explode,’ and it did thankfully,” Bob said.

And it has for thousands of customers over the years, proving that Bob has plenty of fans both on and off his farm.

“Any time you try and repair something, you are trying to understand what’s wrong with it and make it how it was or maybe improve on how it was,” Bob said. “That’s very creative and I enjoy that part of it. It’s like a practical creativity.”

Bob and Kristen do give tours of their farm. People can call if they want a tour at 218-575-2020.


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