Saturday, February 12, 2011

Farmers Love their Land & Community


Joe in front of the fire hall just before we head up to work

Farmers not only have a strong bond to the land, but also with their community. Because the land is our livelihood, we are tied to the region and great bonds are developed with those who live in our small, rural farming community. Joe is a fourth generation farmer with deep ties to the fine folks of Genesee and having married a hometown boy, I too have developed a deep love of our community. So today, we are volunteering our time at the annual Genesee Fireman’s Crab Feed. Joe was a volunteer EMT for 18 years and we worked every year at this fundraiser. After Joe retired from the fire department, we attended as guests, but this year we thought it would be nice to once again lend our time to a worthy organization.

The crowd going through the food line

The take out dinners ready to go
 People get the option of eating within the fire hall or getting a take out and at times 500+ dinners would go out the back door.

Joe was manning the beer stand, this is a popular spot to be

The early diners enjoying their dinner
Cody, our hired man is a volunteer firemen and
next to him is friend Don, a retired fireman at the takeout station
To give you a little history of our lives, let me begin by saying, from what I’ve observed, either the farm kids either love the farm and do whatever they can to have the opportunity to farm or they move away, never to return. Joe grew up on the farm and always knew this was his choice of occupation, but the farm was not big enough to support 2 families. So after Joe graduated from the University of Idaho, he took a job as a chemical rep for Elanco, in the agriculture division and lived in Montana. After working away from the farm for about 2 years, Joe came back to Genesee to farm along with his dad. As the farm was still small, Joe also took a part-time job driving school bus for the morning route. He and his dad also did custom harvesting before their own harvest began. Custom harvesting is when a farmer hires someone to come in with their own combine and harvest that farmer’s crop. This usually occurs when either the farmer chooses to not own a combine or needs extra help in getting in their crop. So with off farm income and doing the custom harvesting, it brought in extra working capital and helped Joe work into the farming operation.

The church looks exactly the same as the
day we got married over 25 years ago

A couple of months after Joe arrived back in Genesee, we met as he used to sit behind me at the church he had grown up in and one that I had just started attending while he was in Montana. I was a divorced single mom of a 2 year old and lived in a nearby city, but always liked the Genesee community so I started attending the Lutheran church there.  Anyway fast forward a couple of years, we got married in that same church and Jennifer, my daughter was the flower girl. To give you a laugh, I’ll share that while Joe and I were taking our vows, Jen was going up and down the aisles talking with people, showing them her purple tights and excitedly telling them once we got married that she was going to get a kitty, a swing-set and that we would be getting a baby too! (Yikes, no I was not pregnant) but when preparing her for moving to Genesee after we married, I had told her  that she could now have pets, a yard and a swing set, and I must have mentioned that later on she would have brother or sister later on.  But somewhere in the 4 year’s brain, she thought they all arrived at the same time.) So of course, I found out a few weeks later about her announcement at the wedding and was a tad bit  mortified. Oh well, 3 years later we had a new daughter, Kaitlyn.

As we continued to build working capital and buy equipment, I worked full time, Joe still worked part time driving bus and doing custom harvesting until we had the opportunity to rent more ground. Then Joe’s brother Jay, who also moved away and was working as an electrician, was also able to come back and work on the farm too. Jay’s wife, Lisa, also worked off the farm until the arrival of their son, Zack 9 years ago.   So through a combined effort of working well, smart and very hard, we have been able to increase the size of the farm and enjoy a challenging, but worthwhile livelihood and life.  So there you have it in a nutshell how my farm life began.  As always, thanks for stopping by and hope you enjoy the blog.  All my best, Gayle

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