Published on Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Kelly Boyers has seen a lot of changes since his childhood growing up on the farm in Poplar Bluff, Missouri. He’s been documenting them, and the weather, for decades in his daily dairy entries. And even though he has always wanted to farm, it hasn’t always been an easy way of life. It has taken a lot of scrimping, saving, and sacrificing just to survive. But when you’re in good company, none of that matters.
These days, the whole family pitches in to tend to the cattle, dogs and horses on the farm. “Our kids, and our grandchildren, and now our great-grandchildren, we could not do this now, at our age, without their help.” Kelly’s wife, Judy, smiles. “Every night, our son comes home from work and goes to the barn. He's here on the weekends too. Rhonda, our daughter, is here every day through the week, just about. Her kids, they help us all the time.”
There was a time the Boyers didn’t have as much help. “Of course, Kelly and I did it all when the kids were small.” Judy continues. “For years, Kelly would work at a public job and then when he got off, I would see about the cattle and take the kids. We'd meet him down at the bridge a lot of nights, the kids on their ponies, me on my horse, and we'd have his saddle and we'd go chase cattle. If I saw a cow that was sick or something, then Kelly would take care of it. We'd get it up. The kids had a ball. The kids thought they were having so much fun when actually we were working, but that's just the way it's been."
The Boyers’ daughter, Rhonda, remembers those days fondly and credits the farm for her work ethic and close relationship with her family. “Growing up, we had what people don't even realize could be possible, I think. And we're like the Walton family. We help each other out every day.” She beams.
Helping one another is what this way of life has always been about, even from the beginning. Kelly recalls stories of his father’s early years in farming. “My dad said when he was a young man he came down with a fever. His uncle and the neighbors put in the crop for him. He had 40 acres. That was lot of ground in 1920.”
As a young man, Kelly learned from those examples. He traded work back and forth with the neighbors and took pride in helping fellow farmers if they were in trouble. “The good old days,” Kelly says with a grin.
When Kelly finally had the chance to get his own land, it took everything he and Judy could come up with to make the payments. “I was climbing poles, it was the best job in town, salary wise, for $4.65 an hour, but we really had to rake and scrape and work two jobs, really, to pay for the farm.”
Through the trials and triumphs, quitting was never an option. “I never thought about giving up. But there's been times I didn't know how in the hell I was going to come out of the financial situation.” Kelly recalls. “That’s over with for me, but pay as you go.” He encourages the next generation.
The days of farming by night and stacking hay in the moonlight are behind them, but the Boyers say they’d do it all over again. “It's worth every minute of the hard work when you get up every morning and you look at this beautiful earth. The trees, the birds, and the animals. When I pull into our drive down there, the first thing I think is home. I'm home. When I get to the little bridge, and the trees, I think, this is the most beautiful place God ever created.” Judy says, gazing out the big picture window. “I mean, we are so lucky. It has been very hard, but we enjoy it so much. And having our family here, I think we're the luckiest people in the world.”
Kelly agrees. "I chose farming for an occupation because it's my roots and it's a close knit group. We went through a lot of cycles. We went through cycles of highs and lows of the prices. What's that old saying? 'When the going gets rough, the tough get going.' We've had to do it. And we've done it. And through all this, why I farm, is because it's my kind of people."
That’s why the Boyers farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip