For some, joining the family farm happens right away. For others, returning to the farm is a longer journey. In Chris Niemann’s case, it was the latter. Although he always had a love for the farm, it didn’t become his home, office and playground until five years ago.
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Nebraska farmer, Chris Niemann, Farm Hats
Shannon Peterson has been involved in agriculture her entire life, just like the generations of Nebraska farmers and ranchers who cared for the land before her. “My husband and I have been married almost 18 years now. We are in a partnership with his brother and his mom. His dad passed away this past September. We’re the fourth generation on his family’s farm. The kids will hopefully be the fifth.” Shannon explains. In addition to row crops, the family raises pigs and cattle. “I primarily deal with the cattle side of things. I love that part of the operation.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, farm, family farm, cattle, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Beef, Nebraska Farm
Farming is tough. The pride that a successful harvest brings doesn’t come without heartache, stress and sacrifice. The Hardesty family knows this well.
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Kentucky Farm, first generation farm, Nicholas Hardesty
Danielle Grant always knew her future was going to include agriculture. She grew up on a small farm she jokingly describes as “Old McDonald’s farm” and fell in love with the lifestyle.
“I always knew I wanted to be involved in agriculture, I just didn’t know to what capacity. I became an ag teacher, so that was going to be my contribution, but then we met in college, and he already had the farm.”
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, FFA, family farm, Natalina Sents, Why I Farm Roadtrip, West Virginia Farm, agricultural education teacher
Coley Drinkwater is a world traveler, entrepreneur and dairy farmer. Every morning her alarm goes off at 3:19 a.m. to start another day working alongside her family at Richlands Dairy Farm. This isn’t how she always pictured her life, but she loves it.
“I went to school for human nutrition, food and exercise because we weren’t encouraged to come back to the farm. I was thinking about doing occupational therapy when I graduated, but I would have to go on full-time for another two and a half years for occupational therapy. I was like, ‘I just want a break from school.’ I’d always wanted to travel the world, so I thought, ‘If I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it now while I don’t have any real responsibilities to anyone.’ I worked as a waitress and saved my tips for a year and a half, and then bought a plane ticket and went around the world. It was just awesome. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. I got home in early August and they were getting ready to start chopping corn. My dad needed help and I was broke. I already knew how to do what we were doing so he wasn’t going to have to train anybody. I needed the money and I could live for free at my parents’ house, so I started working for him. Then I was like, ‘I always enjoyed the farm. I don’t know if I really want to go back to school.’ I took that time to decide, ‘Is this what I want to do? Is this where my heart is? Or is this going to be the kick in the butt I need to go to grad school.’ I’ve been here ever since. I just fell in love with it.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, dairy, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Virginia Farm, Coley Drinkwater Jones
Jennifer Debnam has never pictured herself as anything other than a farmer. When she’s not in the breeding barn, she’s likely helping the next generation of farmers through Farm Bureau, 4-H, or on her own family’s farm.
“I grew up on a farm. We didn’t live in this area of Maryland. We lived in Howard County. That’s between Baltimore and Washington D.C., very close to Columbia, Maryland.” Jennifer recalls. As development in the area increased, and rented crop land was sold, the family had to make some difficult decisions. “I was in high school, my sister was in middle school, and my brother was somewhere between us. My parents sat us down at the kitchen table and said ‘We have enough to farm here for the rest of our lives. But if you guys want to farm we probably need to move.’ What did we know? We were like, ‘Sure we want to farm!’ It took us about two seconds to get that answer. Dad had always hunted in this area and said, ‘I know where I’d like to go.’ So we ended up here in Kennedyville.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Jennifer Debnam, Langenfelder Pork, Maryland Farm
Growing up on a farm is a unique privilege. For Maryland cucumber farmer, Hannah Cawley the farm is where her first lessons in hard work, patience, and teamwork were learned. Following in her father’s footsteps and working alongside her family taught Hannah commitment.
Hannah was raised on a diversified farm in Caroline County, Maryland. The area offers sandy soil and a favorable climate for produce. “We till about 1,000 acres of corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, peas, and sweet corn but our big thing is cucumbers. This year we’re going to plant somewhere around 1,300 or 1,400 acres of cucumbers.” Hannah’s farm can raise two crops of cucumbers per year, thanks to their seasons. Most other cucumber producing states only have the right weather conditions for one harvest a year.
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Hannah Cawley, cucumbers, Maryland Farm
“You do it because you like it, not because you want to get rich. It’s not for the short hours.” Tad Kuntz says growing fruit is in his blood. “I’m a 4th generation fruit grower. I grew up on a farm north of Gettysburg, about a 600 acre orchard. My dad, my two uncles and my grandfather were fruit growers. My great-grandfather was too, but I never met him. My grandfather and father taught me pretty much everything I needed to know to be in the business. I went to college and majored in horticulture just to learn why you do it the way they told me to do it. Most of my education came from them.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Pumpkins, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Tad Kuntz, Masonic Villages Farm Market, apples, fruit trees, Pennsylvania Farm
“Experience is the best teacher.” M.L. Everett counts himself lucky to have the experiences of generations before him on top of his own to guide his decisions for the family’s diversified farm in Virginia. M.L. says, “A lot of farmers this day in time will tell you, ‘I’m not self-made. I have a good start from previous generations.’ A farmer has to know a lot about a lot of different things. He’s got to be a scientist, electrician, a plumber, a mechanic, a carpenter. Those trades have been passed on from generation to generation. Each builds on what the previous generation had learned through experiences.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, M.L. Everett, peanuts, Virginia Farm
Sarah Leonard's family has been on the same farm for 100 years. “The farm was given to my great grandmother as a wedding present, and then they kept buying land,” beamed Sarah. Over the last century, a lot has changed for the Virginia farmers, including their neighbors. Busy roads and big cities surround the farm now. They couldn’t pick up their milk cows, beef cattle or row crops to move, so the family’s only choice was to adapt to their changing surroundings. “We’ve chosen to embrace our neighbors, and we enjoy it.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Sarah Leonard, Cows-N-Corn, agritourism, Virginia Farm
After moving all around the country for their jobs with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) agency in 2013, Adam and Diana Dellinger were ready for something different. So, they decided to start their own hops farm in Carlisle, Pennsylvania called Sunny Brae Hops. “We don’t fit into any of the normal farming boxes.” Diana laughs.
“We started thinking about homesteading and definitely knew we wanted to do that whenever we finally got a piece of property. Adam was starting to get antsy to do something different with his time than being at the office. He was getting tired of that kind of life, but we weren’t ready at that point to do anything about it so he stuck it out until we moved back to Pennsylvania. Even then we didn’t make the jump right away, because it takes quite a leap of faith to say, ‘I’m going to leave my salary job to go farm.’ Everyone looks at you like you’re crazy because it’s hard to make money farming. It took us a long time to get where we are today, and even now we’re just in the beginning stages of the farm.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Pennsylvania Farm, Adam Dellinger, Diana Dellinger, Sunny Brae Hops, hops, first generation farmer
Just like other businesses, many farms work best when each person is in charge of something different. At Haldeman Farms in Pennsylvania each member of the team has a specific set of responsibilities matched with their talents. Brothers Gern and Tim Haldeman, and Martha Graybill each have very different roles on the farm, but together, their efforts are what make the large family farm work.
For Gern, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” was never even a question. He always knew he was going to farm.
“I don’t remember what grade it was, but when I was in elementary school the teacher had us imagine what we were going to be or what we were going to do when we grew up. I remember saying, ‘I don’t need to do this because I know what I’m going to do.’ And the teacher said, ‘You don’t know what you’re going to do.’ I said, ‘No. I know what I’m going to do.’ She said, ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘I’m going to be a farmer.’ That still didn’t get me out of the exercise. I had no idea how, when or where it was going to happen, but I knew somehow I was going to be a farmer because that’s who I was, that’s all I enjoyed, that’s what I did.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, hay, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Pennsylvania Farm, Haldeman Farms, Gern Haldeman, Tim Haldeman, Martha Graybill
Growing up, coming back to the family dairy farm in Delaware is the last thing Walter Hopkins imagined for himself. Life worked out a little differently than he pictured, but that’s what makes it enjoyable.
“As a kid I worked my butt off and was hell bent I was going to get off this farm. I went off to university and majored in ag engineering. After having a summer job in that, I decided that home wasn’t all that bad after all. I graduated from college and went into the service. When I came back from Vietnam, I came directly to the farm and never looked back. That was in 1971, better than 40 years ago.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, dairy farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Delaware Farm, Walter Hopkins
Farming is all Keith Schmidt ever wanted to do. Today he farms with his son in southeast Ohio, but his dream didn’t happen overnight. It wouldn’t have been possible without a community.
Growing up, Keith was active in FFA and worked for older farmers in his area, which nurtured his desire to be in agriculture. “I pull out all my goal setting things from FFA and they all say the same thing. Farm.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Ohio Farm, Keith Schmidt, Beverly Schmidt
Tucked between the mountains, in a little town of Thermont, Maryland lies a colorful orchard. Throughout the season, locals come to enjoy berries, apples and apricots. Busloads of school children come each year to learn about Catoctin Mountain Orchard. Robert Black and his sister, Pat, take pride in growing fresh fruits and vegetables as the second generation on the family farm.
“My dad got the farm in 1961. In the beginning, my father had worked for the gentleman that was here, Mr. Kelbaugh. Mr. Kelbaugh had no children and my father just got more interested in it, so Kelbaugh and my father worked out a deal if my father did a really good job of managing it, he would help share in the profits and that’s how my father got this farm. It’s kind of unique.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Maryland Farm, Robert Black, Catoctin Moutain Orchard
Just like snowflakes, no two farms are alike. Ohio farmer, Joe Osterholt knows that from experience.
“I’m fortunate to be part of two family farms. I worked at a feed mill and helped my dad and brother on our family farm in western Ohio. But after my wife Jennifer and I got married, I ended up moving to central Ohio because she had just built a house there. I interviewed for a few jobs, but wanted something with a lot of flexibility so I could still go back and help my family. Last year, I helped her dad in the spring and then he offered to let me just keep working with him. I've been helping him on the farm for about a year now.“
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Ohio Farm, Joe Osterholt, cattle farm, grain farm
Sometimes following your passion means coming home, right where it all started. Lauren Schwab has traveled internationally, interned in Indiana, and recently graduated from college. But at the end of the day, those experiences pointed her right back to the home farm in southeast Ohio.
Lauren was raised on her family’s hog operation along with her older brother. As a girl, she enjoyed showing pigs. “When you’re younger, you don’t realize what a special opportunity it is to be able to go out and work with your family each day. I have a lot of great memories with my brother growing up learning about the animals. I guess that really taught us responsibility when we were younger.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Ohio Farm, Lauren Schwav, Schwab Family Farms, pig farm
It’s no secret that farming is hard work. On the hottest summer days, there’s hay to bale. Even in below zero temperatures, livestock need to be fed. Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle. Farming takes a special kind of toughness.
“My husband and I are the third marriage between two very large German farm families from the Cincinnati area.” Right before her wedding, Rachael Vonderhaar’s grandma pulled her aside. Because there were so many grandkids, Grandma didn’t talk to anyone one on one very often so Rachael knew this was important. For the first time, Grandma shared her trials of being a woman on the farm. “That’s when I realized just how tough her life was. But Grandma reassured me I could handle it. I grew up around agriculture, but it was that day after talking with Grandma that I decided I really wanted to be a farmer.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Ohio Farm, Rachael Vonderhaar
Family is a huge part of the company culture here at Beck’s. We pride ourselves on being family owned, faith based, and farmer focused. I have been fortunate to be part of the Beck’s family this summer, but after over a month here, I was happy to go home and see my own family this weekend. As I traversed through Iowa, visiting cousins and grandparents, I began to notice something. From seeing the family farm, to tractor rides across the state, I realized how much my family’s agricultural background is a part of who we are.
Categories: Intern Avenue
Tags: agriculture, beck’s hybrids, family farm, intern avenue, Family, Iowa, Celina Young, Beck’s Blog, Beck’s Internships, Beck’s Intern, Eastern Iowa Tractorcade, AM 600 WMT News Radio, South Dakota, tractor ride, 1936 Oliver Hart Parr Row Crop 70
They say home is where the heart is. That’s especially true for Kris and Carla Wardin. The couple had marketing jobs in Connecticut until nine years ago when they decided to move back to Michigan. Home was calling.
The door opened to take over Carla’s parents’ dairy farm. “We really wanted to come back because we always wanted to own our own business.” Carla reflected. “We explored a lot of different avenues, but we decided this would be a good one because we both really liked the way that we grew up next to our grandparents. We also really liked the idea of our kids knowing what we did every day. We both traveled for work and we knew they wouldn’t know what we did, and we wouldn’t be around, and it would just be in this far off office building doing something they didn’t understand. So we liked the idea of them being able to be with us all the time.”
Tags: beck’s hybrids, Why I Farm, dairy farm, family farm, Natalina Sents, Beck’s Blog, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Michigan Farm, Carla Wardin, Kris Wardin, Common Ground