Published on Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Have you ever asked yourself why you’re in the job you’re in? Is it to provide for your family? Is it a job you’re passionate about? Or maybe you don’t even consider your job a job because you love what you’re doing.
When you love what you do you forget about the challenges, the struggles and the sleepless nights. You work long hours, sometimes all night, to beat the storm that’s off in the distance. You get up at 4 a.m. in freezing temperatures to take care of the livestock. And when you haven’t seen your family in days, the kitchen table becomes a truck bed at the end of a field.
Because when you love what you do, nothing else matters. As a farmer, you’re not just providing for your family. You’re providing for the world.
This year, in honor of all farmers, Beck’s Hybrids has started a movement. A movement that tells the story of the American farmer. The “Why I Farm” movement pays tribute to farmers for their hard work, dedication, and passion to a job that they do selflessly, seven days a week.
I’d like to cordially invite you on a journey to honor the American farmer. Maybe that’s your mom, dad, brother, aunt, uncle, friend, or neighbor. Join me, every Wednesday, for a blog dedicated to our Why I Farm movement. So what are we waiting for…let’s get started.
Your Tour Guide
First of all, let me introduce myself. My name is Ashley Fischer and as cheesy as it sounds, I’ll be your tour guide for this series. In addition to being a self-titled tour guide, I have the privilege to work for the largest family-owned seed company in the United States, Beck’s Hybrids. And I absolutely love my job. No, really, I love what I do. Because when you work with great people, work for a wonderful family, and work in an industry that you’re passionate about; what’s not to love about your career?
Growing up on a farm in central Indiana, I’ve always loved and appreciated agriculture. Love to the point where I’ve dedicated my career to telling the story of agriculture through advertising.
When I was asked to capture the stories behind the Why I Farm movement, I jumped at the opportunity (not literally, I didn’t want to sprain an ankle). Not only was I going to talk with farm families, I was going to visit their farms. Seriously, who doesn’t love a good road trip? Especially a road trip where doing what you love is involved.
So like any good road tripper, I stocked the truck with essentials (aside from an overnight bag when needed). Bottled water. Sweet Tarts. Gum. Phone charger. Pen. Paper. Interview questions. Audio recorder. And of course…directions!
Before I get too much further, I should confess. Visiting farm families might just be one of the best parts of my job. And the most rewarding.
During the month of April, I traveled nearly 2,000 miles across the Midwest, clocking more than 30 hours of drive time, visiting with some of the most amazing farm families.
As much as I love a good road trip, living the life of a trucker is not for me.
At each visit, the families welcomed me with open arms. We shared laughs and tears. (Maybe mine more than theirs). Each family stole my heart and took me right back to my days of growing up on the farm.
Even though they each have their own unique story to tell, they are all hard working, passionate, dedicated and most of all humble. None of them thought they had a good story to tell. But by the end, their stories didn’t just inspire me, they changed me.
In this blog series, I’m going to introduce you to the farm families who impacted me more than they’ll ever know. And if you stay with me long enough, you just might find out how these stories affected my life.
Our first tour stop on this journey is to a small town in northwest Ohio.
First Stop: Mike Carpenter, Wayne, OH
It was a beautiful Monday evening in late April when I had the opportunity to visit with Mike Carpenter and his family. I had been driving all day, admiring Ohio’s landscape, and talking to the big man upstairs. (Praying for a break in the weather so the farmers could get the crops planted.)
Mike is from a small town in Ohio, and when I say small, I mean a town the size of 800 people. After winding around a few roads I arrived at Carpenter Farms about 6:30 p.m. I pulled in the driveway, quickly noticing the farm dog sitting on the porch. Mike and his wife, Kris, have a beautiful operation – white farm house, grain bins, and white and red barns.
Before getting out of the truck, I stopped to admire the sun setting over the grains bins. Maybe it’s just me, but I love the bright orange reflection on the galvanized steel. I quickly realized a man was on his way to greet me, so I gathered up my pen, paper, and audio recorder. As soon as I stepped out of the truck, I was immediately greeted with a smile and firm handshake. We walked into his office, and just as we were about to get started, his wife Kris joined us. Mike went from being nervous to maybe just slightly nervous. After telling them a little about my background, growing up on a farm (I really just wanted to assure them I’m not some crazy girl with an audio recorder), and why we want them to be part of our movement, we got started.
We talked about so many things. From begging his dad as a young boy to let him drive the tractor (Does anyone else have this memory?) to the moment he knew farming was going to be more than a passion. We talked about his boys and watching them grow up the same way he grew up – on the farm.
You’ll probably hear me say this a lot, but Mike’s family truly has a unique story. His father and brother still farm…just not in Ohio. In the early 1980s, when land became hard to buy in Ohio, his dad started acquiring farms in Minnesota. When Mike decided to farm full-time, he took over the Ohio farm and his brother and father moved to Minnesota.
But do you want to know the best part of our conversation? I mean, I enjoyed hearing about childhood stories, the love he has for his father, and what motivates him to get out of bed each day. But when he started talking about Kris and the boys, that’s where he got me. (And no, I didn’t cry, but it did melt my heart a little.)
He said wives are the backbone of the farm and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. I couldn’t have agreed more. You know, it’s the little things that wives do that hold the family together.
Kris helps out full-time on the farm. From taking care of the boys to helping move equipment, she’s there. And when I asked her what it’s like working side-by-side, she looked right at me and said with a chuckle, “Well…it has its moments.” We all shared a laugh, but in all seriousness, neither one of them would want it any other way.
As our conversation came to an end, I had one more question. A question that I asked last in every interview. Why do you farm? Without hesitation, Mike said...
Why don’t I just let Mike tell you? Watch the video below:
When you watched the video, did memories of your childhood start flashing in your head? For me, it was riding in the combine at night with dad. That’s probably why, still today, that’s my favorite part…night farming. What was your first memory on the farm?
Author: Ashley Fischer
Categories: Why I Farm
Tags: Beck's Hybrids Blog, agriculture, whyifarm.com, beck’s hybrids, farming, family farms, farmer, tractors, Indiana farming, Ohio farming, Illinois farming, kentucky farming, tennessee farming, Why I Farm Mike Carpenter
Marketing Communications Manager at Beck's.
8/9/2013 2:18 PM
Love it, Ashley. You and Beck's do such a great job for the American farmer. Loved watching all the videos. :)
9/5/2013 5:07 PM
Thanks, Leann and Gerald! Appreciate the kind comments and hope you'll continue following the Why I Farm movement.
8/9/2013 10:36 PM
I enjoyed your story about the Carpenter family. Looking forward to following your Blog. Also like the Golden retriever puppies. Got any left??
9/5/2013 5:09 PM
Hi, Dan! Glad to hear you enjoyed the story and I hope you've been enjoying the other tour stops. Unfortunately, no more lab puppies left. Although I did manage to get one for myself. She just might be a little spoiled. :)
8/11/2013 9:54 AM
Come on out to Belvidere, Il to visit our pumpkin farm. We are both retired grain farmers, or at least we were. Now we grow pumpkins, squash and gourds along with the best and sweetest sweet corn around. We call the farm, The Barn, which is where we sell our products. Along with four dogs, 36 chickens, three ducks and three Chinese geese, we live our farming life and wouldn't live any other way than on a farm. Why I farm? Because it is in my blood, my heritage and it is my love to make things grow. There is a certain satisfaction in seeing something take ahold and become a part of the life you live. Looking at an ear of corn and isn't it amazing that each and every one of the kernels will become a new and wonderful plant. And that, along with the man I love, is why we farm.
9/5/2013 5:11 PM
Hi, Redd! I would love to visit The Barn! Your farm sounds absolutely wonderful. And thank you for sharing your Why I Farm story. It's been a real joy for me to travel and hear stories from farmers all across the Midwest. Hope you'll keep following the Why I Farm movement.
8/21/2013 8:40 AM
Ashley... i just finished watching all three in this series... here in central IL i have been listening to the series on the radio. i can't thank you enough for sharing what we feel in our own home and on the family farm. No one understands this until you walk in their shoes, but you certainly have given them a taste. Thank you.
9/5/2013 5:13 PM
Hi, Jan! Thank you so much for taking the time to read the blog. Telling the story of the American farmer has impacted me more than anyone could ever realize. And getting to tell my journey on the Why I Farm movement has been a privilege. Hope you'll continue reading. Thanks again.