Emma: Farming Runs Deep

Each time I sit down to write a post I’m not exactly sure what will come to me. I’m the type of person that needs a little inspiration to make the writing process easier and today that’s exactly what I have. I’d like to introduce you to my inspiration, Dave and Kathy Richenberger from Andale, Kan., our customers for the past 10 years.

This year harvest was bittersweet for Dave and his family because they have decided it’s time to retire. Dave is 78 years-old and I think he deserves every bit that retirement has to offer, and I’ve decided to share his story.

Dave has been farming the land around Andale for 57 years. He started out as a young man farming with his father, but when the land they had was not enough to support him and his father he branched out on his own and started to rent ground. Dave has been farming the same ground he started with 50 years ago, some of that land he was able to purchase. I think this is quite unique because Dave did business in the days when all you needed for an agreement was a simple handshake and a man’s word. Twenty-five years ago Dave started renting more land, and still rents it today.

When farmers gain ground the next to come is farm upgrades. Dave remembers when he got a new 60 cultivator and said, “I couldn’t believe how I could cultivate 40 acres an hour, it sure was a step up from 42 acres a day.”

Prior to the upgrade Dave had what they call an International W6 tractor and he plowed with a moldboard plow. “I was lucky if I started out early in the morning and plowed all day, to plow 42 acres of land,” he said.

I suppose if you ask any farmer who has been around for years they’ll tell you the same thing. In my opinion, the best farmers in the world started from the ground up and had to work hard for every single thing. I believe you learn to appreciate what you have when you have nothing to begin with. My dad was one of them, and I don’t think there’s any way you can be a farmer and a pessimist.

I asked Dave what the biggest change for him has been since he started farming and he said, “cabs.” I suppose that would be a great improvement from working in the dirt, dust and heat all day. Dave also had to mention that hydraulics on machinery make the work easier as well.

Dave has to have some help to accomplish all of his field work, “I usually just hire my grandchildren to help out in the fields.” We aren’t his grandchildren, and when I asked why he hired custom harvesters he said “harvesting is a time sensitive process and it makes me feel secure knowing the crop is going to get out fast, especially if rain comes when there’s a chance of losing test weight. I don’t have to be in the field and I can leave you and trust that you’ll get the job done, and do it right.”

With the price of equipment today and for no more than the equipment is used Dave says hiring the wheat harvested is worth it. There are downfalls to hiring it cut though, “writing the check,” said Dave. “It’s always hard for me to write that check, but I know it’s less stress in the end and I’m secure knowing my crop is out of the field – and I know you have to spend money to save money.”

“It’s not what you pay for, it’s what it costs you,” Dave added. “I do what I do best, and hire the rest.”

I did ask Dave if he was sad to be retiring and he said it was really kind of bittersweet. “I’m glad to be done with all the stress that it has, but sad because I want to keep doing it for the kids. I want them to become interesting in farming so I can pass the tradition on to them.”

Dave is not unique in that sense, because farmers today want to pass on that tradition. For farmers, and harvesters and anybody in agriculture it’s more than just a job, it’s a way of life.

Emma_andale dave & kathy
(L to R) Kathy holding Alexander, little Elizabeth, and Dave holding Sara

I want to say thank you to Dave for all he’s done for me, and for Misener Family Harvesters. You’re what keeps this world alive and feeding the whole world.

Be safe and God bless!

Emma can be reached at emma@allaboardharvest.com. All Aboard 2011 is sponsored by High Plains Journal and DuPont Crop Protection.

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