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From Our Family Farm to Yours

Why I Farm


Published on Tuesday, August 16, 2016

“I’ve farmed all my life.” recalls Martin Hayden. “I was raised on a farm, grew up on a farm, and farmed with teams. We didn’t farm with tractors. Dad raised cattle, he had horses he farmed with and a few milk cows to live off of. I loved it. Even when I was a little bitty kid I was following him through the field.”


For Martin and his wife, Joan, the farm has been more than a place to live and work. It has been their dream and passion. “As I grew up, I didn’t realize what it took to make a living off of the farm.” Martin explains. “I really didn’t care. I love what I saw. As I got older, I still loved it, and I still wanted to do it. My brother inherited what was left of the original Hayden farm and so we bought up here after Joan and I got married. I couldn’t afford to only farm, so I had to start another business. I started an electrical company to pay for the farming.”


The day after the couple’s son, David was born, the logs were delivered for the home they live in today. Now the house and farm is filled with memories of life lessons for David, his younger brother Daniel, and dozens of people who’ve worked for the family over the years. “As the boys grew up, they’d go out to the fields with us. They’d play under the tree with their trucks in the dirt while we were doing tobacco. As soon as they were big enough, they were setting tobacco on the setter or they were dropping sticks. I got pictures of Daniel sound asleep on the tractor. They always went with us in everything we did.” Joan remembers.



David and Daniel learned about work ethic tending the tobacco fields and running their own produce business. “As soon as we stopped raising tobacco, I still wanted to grow something, so I started raising vegetables.” David recalls. “I had a string of kids that came out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to help me pick vegetables. They would show up at six in the morning before it got hot. I’d show them what to pick and then I’d work on weeds or whatever else needed to be done there in the garden. I’d bring vegetables up while they were working. I’d wash them, and get them clean, put them in the basement and then at four the next morning I’d pack everything up and go to the farmers market. I did that for probably three or four years. Then Daniel took over because I was in college and I was doing summer internships. It was a lot of dang work, but it was good.”


As adults, the boys have found their own roles in the agricultural industry. Daniel manages the day-to-day duties of the cattle and poultry operation. While David is not on the farm full time, his job as a meat scientist allows him to help people understand animals’ lives from conception to consumption.



“Teach people. That’s always been my goal from when I started farming.” smiles Martin. “I would take kids that nobody else wanted to give work. People would say, ‘They don’t know how to do anything.’ I said, ‘Well, they can learn. They’re smart. I’ll show them how to do this.’ Sometimes it cost me money to work kids, but I love it. I could make work to where they’d like it. There’s probably not a kid in this area of the county - Knottville, Whitesville, Philpot - that at one time or another hasn’t worked for me. I just treat them like I did my own kids.”


The Hayden family is reaching even more youth in Daviess County through the 4-H Livestock Club Martin started. Through regular meetings and the feeder calf program, young people are given the opportunity to learn about agriculture. “This is the 16th year for it. We have over 38 kids raising over 55 calves.” Joan beams. “If any of the kids have a problem, or they think they got a problem with their calf, they give us a call. We’ll come look at it. If we have to doctor it, we’ll doctor it. If we have to get a vet, we’ll help them get a vet. When we have the weigh-ins, if they don’t have a way to get it there, they call us. We’ll haul it for them. That’s the way to keep kids.” says Martin. Three years ago, Daniel started leading the group. Seeing others gain an appreciation for livestock gets him excited. “This is the most passionate industry you could possibly be in because it is blood, sweat and tears into everything we do.” Daniel explains. “You cannot get any more connected to life itself than you can in agriculture. For me, to be able to pass that on just a little bit, just slightly as much as was passed on to me, is the most rewarding thing that I could possibly do every day.”


Along with other members of the Farm Bureau and Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association, Daniel and Joan are working to teach people about agriculture in even more ways. “We’re working to get the movie Farmland into the school system. They have it in Daviess County school system and it will be on the agenda this fall when they start school again. It’s an excellent, excellent, excellent movie.”


“I don’t really farm 100%, but I’m part of the family farm. Why I do this, honestly is because of my mom and dad. I look at everything we have here and I see these people worked their butts off. My dad was one of six kids. He grew up poor. And he worked really hard every day, not only to build his electric company, but to build this farm. This wasn’t a farm that was handed down from generation to generation. He started it. Dan and I are the second generation on this piece of land. I watched him build it from the ground up. I remember when we had a couple milk cows and tobacco. Seeing everything that he did, that’s why. The passion he has for farming and agriculture, that only made the passion inside of me grow even more.”


That’s why the Hayden family farms.



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Nate Rottero

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