Why I Farm

| 12/13/2017 8:51:00 AM

Country MoonI can think of no other occupation that is as diversified as farming, nor one that has so many odds stacked against it. There are never two years that are the same, and farming is one big guessing game. A farmer tries to figure out the best seed to plant, the best fertilizer to buy, the best tillage method for his soil and, then the million dollar question of when to plant and when to harvest, to get it right. Long days, long nights, sultry 90-degree days and freezing sub-zero temperatures. It is, perhaps, the hardest job on earth and yet, the most rewarding.

Back in 2013, Beck’s Hybrids introduced the “Why I Farm” movement with the single purpose of honoring the American farmer. Determined not only to tell the story of how hard farmers work, but also “to tell the story of real people and real farms who are guided by faith, dedicated to their families and are passionate about the agriculture industry.”

Some of their stories intrigued me, so much so that I wondered what made some of the farmers I know do what they do. From Indiana to Michigan to Pennsylvania I got varied answers, some were short, some were long, some touched on the humorous but they all had the underlying thread that once farming was in their blood, it was part of what made them who they are. Here are some of the answers…

Ron Harvey of Harvey’s U-Pick Farm of Tekonsha, Michigan, put it in a nutshell by explaining, “I can be my own person. I love being outside and growing things. Even though we do some field crops, my emphasis is on fruits and vegetables. I like the fact that we can provide foods that are good for people and they also enjoy what we grow. I often compare farming to a casino because we farmers gamble every day with our crops and providing for our families by choosing this way of life. But it’s a good life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Wayne Heebner of St. Thomas, Pennsylvania, is also a die-hard farmer, having been farming for over 50 years. But he started on a completely different path. He recalls, “I have always liked to farm, I remember riding with my uncle when he went to plow. One time he came out from dinner and wondered where his tractor and plow had gotten to and I was out plowing. I had watched him enough that I figured I could do it! But my mother had other plans, she always thought I should be a doctor. Then my uncle died in an accident when I was in ninth grade and I ended up planting his corn crop. I would always rather tinker around taking something apart and putting it back together. Still, my mother thought I should go into medicine until a doctor friend of the family ran off with his secretary. After that I didn’t hear any more about it! Good thing because I just think farming is in my DNA, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Byron Kinsinger of Cambridge City, Indiana, is another farmer who is happiest on a tractor in the field. He described the feeling of working the ground, “I like being outside driving the tractor and equipment. There is just something about working the ground and seeing what it gives back to you. You also have control. I worked in a factory for a while and I didn’t like not having any control over the quality of the finished product. Then I worked in a garage and was told to put parts on a vehicle that weren’t needed. I called my Dad and told him to come and get me and the tools. I didn’t like treating people that way. I like to make my own decisions and I had access to land, I had to try it. It’s a right fit for me.”

12/16/2017 6:45:25 AM

Lois, I started life on a small 80 acre farm and lived there until about 8 years old. I can't remember the first time I rode on a tractor but totally fell in love with farm life. My entire family history on both Mom and Dad's side of the family was farming from the time they migrated to Nebraska in the middle 1800s. So yes, it was definitely in my DNA. We moved to the city of 100,000 from about 9 to 15 years old then back to a 114 acre farm where chickens produced eggs, cowed were milked, and hogs were raised. I always had intended to be a farmer because there just wasn't any thing like grooming a field into a crop with a harvest at the end of the season. However, technology stole my interest in senior high and a 41 career started that I loved so much that I couldn't wait to get to work every day. After retirement, my farming DNA and generational farming heritage kicked in and I now work at city farming on a vacant lot and my backyard. I still have lots of cousins that live on farms but the sad truth is that slowly the family migration is to city living and farm life is being left behind. Being the oldest cousin, it sad to watch but understandable. Have a great day understanding why we farm. Nebraska Dave

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