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Why I Farm

BECK'S WHY I FARM ROADTRIP - New Mexico FARMER, Sichler Family

Published on Monday, May 1, 2017

Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Paula Sichler imagined she would live in the city for the rest of her life. That all changed when she met her husband, Chris. 

“I didn’t have any interest in agriculture at all, but I started dating my husband and the rest is history.” Paula laughs.

“My husband is a 5th generation farmer. His family immigrated here from Germany straight to New Mexico. They had a little restaurant in Albuquerque for one year and then got into farming in Valencia County.” Later, Chris’ father bought a farm in Socorro County, the next county south. After graduating from high school, Chris and Paula got married and moved to manage that farm. “We've been farming ever since.” Paula explains.

 

 

As a young adult, Paula watched the timber industry her dad worked in get torn apart by activists. Once she became immersed in agriculture, she could see that the same thing was happening to farmers and ranchers. Those experiences motivated her to get more involved with Farm Bureau and lend her voice to telling the story of agriculture. She has continued to serve multiple terms on the state board.

Through those opportunities, she enjoys sharing about the farm she owns with Chris and their son, Steven. Their daughter, Erica, also helps out on the family farm. The operation is a balance between forage crops, like alfalfa, and carrying on the tradition of produce stands.

 

 

While her husband handles much of the field work, Paula does the book work and runs the produce stand in San Antonio. “I get on the tractor every once in a while. You have to be a jack-of-all-trades.” Paula explains. Steven runs the stand in Las Lunes.

“New Mexico's crop is chile. So we grow chile.” Paula smiles. “You can't just grow chile and have a good produce roadside market. So, we also grow everything that can go with it.”

Running the roadside stands is hard work, but it’s rewarding. “The best part about it is you have relationships.” Paula explains. “I've been doing this for a long time. I've had roadside stands since 1988. You just have a really close relationship with the community around you.”

Steven also enjoys building a relationship with their customers. “The best part is when you're selling it. But it's not the making money part, its the people who are excited to buy it from you and the appreciation you get for what you did all summer long.” He adds.

That sense of community motivates Paula. “It's not about the dollar. It's not about how much money I'm going to shove in my pocket at the end of the day. We hire employees and we keep them working even when the winter comes and we don't have that much work for them because we know they have families and they have expenses. It's just about living in the same community and having lives that are running almost the same course.”

While working the stand, Paula enjoys debunking myths and helping people understand what happens on her farm. She always tells her customers, “If you have a concern about one specific thing or if we're spraying with something, you can ask me. I'll tell you what we sprayed and when we sprayed it. And our intention is not to be hurting you. I'm eating the same things you're eating. We just want to grow good quality food at a reasonable price for you.”

Paula is proud of how far they’ve come. The stand used be just a small lean-to on the property. From there it moved into part of the couple’s garage. Recently, they built their own building in Las Lunes.

 

 

But all this progress hasn’t happened without challenges. Over the years, weather and wildlife have damaged or destroyed picture-perfect crops. But the Sichlers always remain positive. “We trust in the Lord. He's blessed us all the way through.”

At the end of the day, the Sichlers simply love what they do. "Honestly, I think when it's slow on the farm, it's harder to get out of bed in the morning. When you have stuff to do, you're just raring to go. You get out of bed. If you stay in bed, you're going to miss out. There's a lot of opportunity on the farm, you just have to be willing to go work for it."

That’s why the Sichlers farm.

 

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Natalina Sents
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1 comments on article "Why I Farm"

Katen Jaramillo

9/13/2018 9:15 PM

I'm so happy that you and Chris made such a good life with each other. You were so young. God Bless You Always my friend. Love and Miss You!!!

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