june 2013 | Section A
Whitney Rogers stands in the background as one of her family's myotonic goats, known for their fainting spells when startled, jumps from a platform.
The Rogers family raises fainting goats on Moenning Hill Farm “Most ladies want flowers or chocolates for their birthday, but I asked for a goat,” says Staci Rogers as she walks toward the barn and points out the myotonic goat her husband, Greg, and daughter, Whitney, gave her. The Rogers family lives in a home on land they have named Moenning Hill Farm, in reference to the family name of Staci’s great-great-grandparents, who originally bought the land. Their house was built by Staci’s great-grandparents, passed to her grandparents and became the childhood home of her father. She says the farm is still surrounded by family. The family currently has approximately 60 goats on the farm, but these are not common goats. The animals are myotonic goats, named on the American Livestock Breed
story By jenni l. muncie-sujan photos by josh marshall
See goats on A2
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Greg and Staci Rogers, with their daughter, Whitney,14. BELOW: Staci holds onto a goat as it is prepared for a round of vaccinations.
goats // cont. from A1 Conservancy List as a species that is in recovery status, having at one time been threatened by extinction. Now, because of its rarity, it is one of the more valuable breeds, she says. Six and a half of Moenning Hill Farm’s 29 acres in Seymour are devoted to the goat farm. Living among the goats is Maya, a Great Pyrenees dog who serves as their protector. Myotonic goats, also called “fainting goats,” are a species that can be traced back to the 1800s in Tennessee. Their name comes from their reactions to being startled. When these goats are scared, their muscles lock up. They do not truly faint, but instead become immobile and usually fall over, as though they are fainting with fear. Because of this physical trait, Staci says, they were used on farms in the past as distractions for wild predators. When a predator began chasing a group of animals, the animals would
run away, but the goats became immobile from their fear. This made them easy prey for the predator, satisfying its hunger and sparing the lives of other more valuable animals, such as cows. The Rogers family has been raising fainting goats for about five years, a decision they made after returning home from a trip to a hobby zoo in Florida during spring break. At first, they set their hearts on raising pygmy goats, but as Staci did research online, she found the myotonic goats, a breed that seemed to be a perfect fit for their farm. “They’re a very, very gentle breed,” she says. Staci grew up on a dairy farm, down the hill from her current residence. Until last year, the family had miniature horses. “I had always been a horse person,” she explains, “but I like goats better. They are more cuddly.” In order to share their love of fainting goats, they looked to the Jackson
See goats on A5
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
June 2013 Farm Indiana
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Planting a Seed It’s Monday morning as I write. I’m in the office, after having spent the past weekend where my husband and I have spent every weekend since last November: in the country. There, my husband and I are restoring the old farmhouse we purchased last fall. I’ve spent hours painting every wall and ceiling in the place (I’m almost done), while he has toiled for hours, replacing plumbing and restoring old farmhouse sinks and claw-foot tubs. The restoration job seems a little never-ending (it probably, literally, is), and we haven’t even really started working on the outside of the house yet. What we have done outdoors is plant dozens of perennial bulbs, lilac plants, butterfly bushes and trees upon glorious trees for our future enjoyment (and for the bees). Now that winter temperatures are finally behind us, I’m so happy to spend my days outdoors, feeling the rush of wind on my face, watching as rabbits hop by and buzzards circle overhead, listening to the cows and birds sing, and pulling weeds. For me, playing in the dirt — and caring for the land — is part of a personal spiritual quest. And it’s a respite from the craziness of this world. In the country, we still have no phone, no Internet service and no cable TV. There, we only have a garden to plan, some heavy lifting to do, some furnishing and refinishing to complete, and a great big dream. As I worked this weekend, tractors marched back and forth over the acres surrounding our home. The land had finally dried (and the rain stopped for long
A goat at Moenning Hill Farm.
enough) for farmers to plant this season’s crops. From what I could see, approximately six men were out in those fields all weekend long, spreading fertilizer and seed and following their own big dreams. In some small way, though I don’t know them nor do they know me, I felt connected to the men working there. Because of my job here, editing the pages of Farm Indiana, and due to my own aspirations to someday keep livestock and bees and to grow most of our food, I felt like I better understood them. As I quietly planted my bulbs and they planted their seeds, I felt I could relate. We may have nothing else in common in this life, those farmers and I, but we were, at least for the weekend, united in one very basic plight. We depend on the land to feed and nurture us, and the land needs each of us — in our respective ways — to plant the seed, to tend the soil and maybe even to pray a little for good things to grow.
Greg and Whitney Rogers.
A myotonic goat is temporarily immobile.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
For more information on Moenning Hill Farm, visit www.moenninghillfarm.com. goats // cont. from A2 County Fair. In 2012, the Rogerses set up an exhibit, but it was not to formally show their goats. Last year, myotonic goats had no division, no place to be shown and judged. At their booth, they included a petition to collect signatures of people who would be interested in seeing or showing the breed at the fair. Afterward they pre-
sented the signatures to the fair board for consideration. Eventually, the decision was approved by the board, and the family will show their goats at the 2013 fair, as part of a one-year trial. “There are so few myotonic goat shows in Indiana,” Staci says. “We do a lot of online shows.” Last year, in a
class of 85 goats, Whitney showed a goat online and won the Best of Show title. She has also won a Grand Champion title in a show. The Rogerses are not the only people around who are raising fainting goats, but they consider themselves the forerunners. “There are other people starting to get into them,” Staci says, “but we
were the first breeders in the area.” She says one of the most exciting times of raising goats comes when the females are giving birth, or “kidding.” “It’s almost like a kid opening a present at Christmas,” she says. Each newborn goat can be quite different in color, pattern and personality. Eventually, the Rogerses hope to
broaden their focus to raise other endangered animals, such as cows, ducks and chickens found on the Heritage Breeds Conservancy list. In the immediate future, their goal is the goats’ success at the 2013 Jackson County Fair. “Right now, we are trying to get people involved to show with us, so we can have a good show,” Staci says. *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Among commodity crops, non-genetically altered seeds are a thing of the past Story by Jim Mayfield
hen scientist Gregor Mendel began poring over his pea plants in the middle of the 19th century to determine what traits pass where and why, he could not possibly have imagined the day when genes could and would be modified to highlight specific characteristics. Nor could he imagine that multinational corporations would one day be so invested in corn, soybeans and cotton seeds that company leaders would be willing to go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect that investment. But the reality is this: On May 13, the high court agreed with Monsanto that Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman could not use the company’s genetically modified soybeans, which are protected by a patent, gathered at a
grain elevator to later create new seeds unless he paid the company a fee. Genetically engineered seed and companies’ return on their high-end research and development investments are here to stay and now make up the bulk of what goes in the ground. The majority of the country’s four commodity crops — corn, canola, cotton and soybeans — are now genetically engineered. In the 1920s, the U.S. government began experimenting with crosspollination, and a decade later inbreeding corn was in full bloom, transferring pollen to the silks of the same plant. Later, single crossing of two inbred lines and double crossing of single crossbreeds all moved toward making plants more durable, and that increased yield.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
The game changed, however, in the mid-’90s with the advent of genetic hybrids, when Monsanto and other biotechs began splicing and transferring traits at the genetic level. “About 30 years ago, there wasn’t that much available,” says Ray Kerkhof, agronomy department manager for Harvest Land Co-op in Hancock County. “Maybe one variety broken out six or seven times.” Since that time, however, transgenetic hybrids now come in hundreds of varieties and flavors to address above-ground and below-ground stresses, such as drought, herbicide and pests, Kerkhof explains. “Unfortunately, there’s no one seed that’s a magic bullet,” he says. Additionally, farming conditions and crop stressors can vary from any of the state’s regions, so farmers are advised to look carefully and read labels when trying to decide which of the many varieties of seed to plant, says Bob Nielsen, professor of agronomy at Purdue University. “Every seed company has its own products, and they’ll sell one more than
another,” Nielsen said. “Most of the time the farmers have a very close relationship with the seed company to determine what will yield well.” And increasing yield is the fuel driving the genetically engineered engine. “The return on the investment is the biggest thing,” Kerkhof says. Pest-resistant seed decreases a farmer’s input cost. Hardy, drought-resistant plants bring in more money after a dry growing season. For the non-genetically engineered operations, where input costs are increased by the necessity of herbicides and pesticides, farmers are paid a premium to offset the additional cost of doing business. “You’ve got to manage things differently,” Kerkhof says of the non-genetically modified crops. “If you’ve got to throw more chemicals at it, then you get a premium that makes it pretty close (to harvesting a genetically modified crop.)” However, Kerkhof says the prevalence of transgenetics and the lack of research and development in traditionally seeded crops could soon make nongenetically altered seed a thing of the past. “The key here is that there’s very little research going into non-GMO seed,” he said. “That area is not moving forward.” Though farmers can consider everything from soil type, structure and composition to weed and pest resilience in determining which variety of seed to sow these days, Nielson said one issue that may have been on the radar earlier this planting season may have dried up, literally, with the break in the early spring rains. As the traditional mid-April to mid-May planting season opened to consistent and steady rains with more predicted in central Indiana, some farmers worried they might run out of time if the fields didn’t dry sufficiently. Early in May, a USDA farm report estimated that only about 8 percent of the state’s corn crop had been planted. One of the alternatives to increase yields would have been to opt away from the normal season maturity seed to a shorter maturity hybrid in the face of declining good growing days prior to the end of the season. However, Nielsen said the onset of a warmer, dry and breezy window in mid-May may have kept farmers from making that move. “Not many are changing over yet,” he said, noting that farmers had until the end of the month to decide. “We’ve made pretty good progress over the last week or two.” As of May 13, 30 percent of the state’s corn crop was in compared to 92 percent last year, with 21 percent of the central region crop in the ground, according to the Indiana Field Office of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. The report indicated that 3 percent of Hoosier corn had emerged compared to 71 percent this time last year. On the upside, Kerkhof says the late spring, though problematic for farmers, was helping area seed retailers who get the season’s latest product developments from Mexico and South America. “Most of our corn (seed) is starting to get bought in August and September," Kerkhof explains. “And it’s supply and demand. If something is a real yielder, farmers are going to say, ‘I want that,’ and right now, the highyielding varieties are in short supply.” Large corporate seed producers generally don’t find out what hybrids and seed developments will pan out until fall, when the crop is harvested and then sent south for the growing season there to be shipped back to U.S. farmers in the spring. “Some of this stuff won’t get here until April,” he said. “So retailers are crossing their fingers.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Jerry and Susie Patterson pose with a 4-day-old miniature donkey as its mother keeps a close watch.
Jerry and Susie Patterson are devoted to donkeys at their Ravenwood Farm story By Beth clayton-george
ne of the first things Jerry and Susie Patterson will tell you about themselves is that they are retired — he from agricultural sales and she from a career as a registered nurse. But their hobby of breeding, training and showing miniature donkeys has blossomed into a career in itself. What began with the purchase of one miniature donkey as a pet for their grandchildren nearly 20 years ago has now grown into Ravenwood Farm in Hartsville, a 14-acre property that is home to more than 40 donkeys. “Jerry has never done anything in moderation,” says Susie. Miniature donkeys are not just small versions of a standard donkey but are a particular breed that originated thousands of years ago on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. They are sometimes referred to as the Mediterranean miniature donkey. According to the National Miniature Donkey Association, miniature donkeys must not exceed 36 inches, but may reach up to 350 pounds. The docile creatures are easily trained to pull a cart or be ridden by small children, and are common fixtures at children’s petting zoos. The diminutive donkeys from Ravenwood Farm have also added a little life to Nativity scenes and other church events around Bartholomew County, including St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus, where the Pattersons are members, and The Ridge. But beyond all that, the Pattersons say the donkey’s inquisitive nature and distinct personalities just make them fun to be around. “People always ask me: ‘What do you do with a miniature donkey?’” Jerry says. “Well, what do you do with a dog? They’re pets.” Throughout their married life — the Columbus High School sweethearts tied the knot 48 years ago — Jerry’s jobs at Greenfield-based Elanco and at Stewart Seeds in Greensburg took the Bartholomew County natives all over the Midwest before they settled in Greensburg in the early 1990s. Susie’s parents were in poor health at the time, and the drive back and forth from Greensburg to her parents’ home in Columbus quickly grew tiresome. So when Susie’s father mentioned that he had seen a farm for sale in Hartsville, which is approximately 20 minutes outside Columbus, the couple jumped at the chance. It was an opportunity for them to return to their agricultural roots — Jerry had spent much of his early years on his grandfather’s farm, and Susie’s father raised beef cattle and showed horses while she was growing up. “I think all people who grow up on a farm probably
photos by josh marshall
want to have a farm of their own,” says Jerry. Once settled on their new property — with their horse, Star, who moved with them following a brief stint for the couple in Cynthiana, Ky. — the Pattersons dabbled in raising pygmy goats before buying a miniature donkey named Mindy at an auction. Realizing the donkey’s social nature, they bought two more miniature donkeys from the same farm where they bought Mindy. Then in 1996, the owners of that farm decided
“People always ask me: ‘What do you do with a miniature donkey?’ Well, what do you do with a dog? They’re pets.” —jerry patterson, Ravenwood Farm
that they were ready to get out of the miniature donkey business and sold the Pattersons their whole herd— three jennets (females) and a jack (male). The Pattersons’ fate was sealed that year when Jerry attended a miniature donkey show, where he was introduced to an entire subculture of miniature donkey enthusiasts. “I met a lot of nice people and thought showing would be fun,” he says. Today Ravenwood Farm is home to 45 donkeys, with more expected to arrive this spring during foaling season. In addition to breeding the donkeys and selling them, they also train them and travel around the country competing in various state fairs and donkey shows. Though their background in agriculture has helped, learning the ins and outs of breeding miniature donkeys was no small task. Susie has become somewhat of an expert in conformation, which refers to the skeletal structure of a donkey. To have good conformation, a miniature donkey must have a straight back and legs, and an even bite, among other traits. She honed this skill by going through a catalog of miniature donkeys while on the phone with a donkey expert, pointing out
flaws for hours at a time. Meanwhile, Jerry’s expertise lies in training the donkeys and fashioning custom harnesses for the animals. He ships his intricate leather harnesses and show halters all over the world — New Mexico, England and the Virgin Islands, to name just a few destinations — for use with horses, ponies, sheep, goats and yes, donkeys. He makes the harnesses and accessories in a dedicated workshop in Ravenwood’s seven-level red barn, built in 1867. In 2009, the Pattersons added a second, smaller training barn to the property, allowing them to continue to train the donkeys even in inclement weather. The barn features a homemade donkey obstacle course designed to teach donkeys to step over low obstacles such as rocks or branches and navigate uneven terrain. It also introduces them to different sounds they might encounter while in the show ring or while pulling a cart. “Donkeys aren’t stubborn — they are cautious,” says Susie, explaining that they will stop in their tracks if they are uncertain about a situation. “There are donkey monsters they have to watch out for,” she jokes. The naming convention for donkeys registered with the American Donkey and Mule Society — a must to ensure solid pedigree for showing and breeding purposes — means that donkeys retain the name of their farm where they were born, regardless of who shows them. “We are just as proud of that as we are the ones we show ourselves,” says Susie. In addition to certain physical attributes, the Pattersons say that personality is key, and it’s clear upon entering the donkey’s spacious pen that no two donkeys are alike. There’s Princess, who looks wary and tired — and rightfully so, given that she is nearing the end of an 11-month pregnancy. Adalida, who at 19 years old is retired, is known to throw a mouthful of hay on her back during feeding time in order to have a snack later. Champagne and Silver Key — two of the “show girls” — are cautious and curious about a newcomer in their barn, while Mariah pushes bravely through the pair in search of a friendly scratch behind the ears. The Pattersons sell around six or eight donkeys each year all over the Midwest and beyond. Recently, one gelding (a male miniature donkey who has been castrated) went to a miniature horse farm in The Netherlands. Many of the donkeys for sale are foals, while others are proven winners on the show circuit. But not every young donkey is up for sale. Some are what Susie affectionately refers to as “Till Death Do Us Part” donkeys, meaning the Pattersons and
Farm Indiana // june 2013
BELOW: Jerry Patterson explains the procedure for unhitching the donkey from a cart. BOTTOM: The Pattersons ride in a cart sized for miniature donkeys.
their family of four children and eight grandchildren love them too much to part with them. Zeus III, known as Zippy, is one such donkey. The sweet-tempered donkey’s near-perfect conformation has helped him rack up numerous awards all over the Midwest since his birth in 2005, and he has sired several more award winners as well. If breeding and training miniature donkeys still seem like an unlikely choice for the Pattersons, it’s important to know one more key fact about them: Jerry and Susie are devout Christians, and to them, there is no doubt
that donkeys play a key part in biblical lore. According to the Bible, explains Jerry, a young donkey was selected to carry Jesus to Jerusalem, just a week before he was crucified. Legend has it that the devoted donkey wanted to help Jesus carry the cross, but was pushed away. Instead, the donkey waited to say goodbye until the crowd had dispersed, and as he turned to leave, the shadow of the cross fell on the donkey’s back and shoulders. And to this day, every miniature donkey carries that indelible mark. *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Dutch Acres cultivates customers through honesty, service story By richard isenhour
photos by josh marshall
en and Kay Tearman are reminiscing with a guest in the office of their Mooresville location when the telephone rings. “Good afternoon, Dutch Acres Equipment,” Ken says, almost singing. “How can I help you?” He listens intently for about 10 seconds and hangs up in disgust. “Telemarketer,” he says, as if he had been talking to someone hawking cigarettes at a junior high dance. “I’ll have to make sure we get back on the nocall list,” Kay replies, matter-of-factly. Their reactions are honest and remarkable, given that their guest is a reporter who is recording it all. But the Tearmans are unabashed. They are who they are: throwbacks to a simpler time, a time before the Internet and new-age marketing, when success in business — as in life — depended on working hard, providing good service and, above all, being honest. These are qualities instilled in them growing up on farms in south-central Indiana. And these traits have guided them as they’ve built their business from a part-time operation selling lawn and garden equipment to one that now includes the sale and service of farm tractors and implements at two locations: one at 110 Commerce
Drive in Franklin and the other, opened a little more than a year ago, on State Road 67, just north of Mooresville. “We do a lot of repeat business,” Ken notes. “We have a lot of people who come back, and I believe service has a lot to do with that. We treat people as individuals and not as numbers. Our philosophy has always been to treat people like we want to be treated.” “I guess we’re old-fashioned that way,” Kay adds. Understanding the evolution of their family business requires some history. Ken grew up on a farm in rural Danville, where his family raised beef cattle. Kay grew up on the Vandenberg family dairy farm in northern Johnson County. They met as high schoolers in the mid-1960s. “I grew up on the edge of White River Township, so I went to Center Grove High School,” Kay says, as she begins a story they’ve both shared before. “I dated Ken’s cousin, who also attended Center Grove, for about three or four years, and we kinda broke up right before the Christmas dance. I needed a date so I called Ken and asked him. I called him first and asked him out first. He loves for me to tell this story.” “I tell it better than her,” Ken says, as he takes over the story. “About six weeks later, on her birthday, we got engaged. And then the follow-
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
ing September, on my birthday, we got married.” Although Kay was fresh out of high school, her spouse had been out of school for a couple of years and was serving in the U.S. Air Force. After the wedding, the couple headed to Goldsboro, N.C., where Ken was stationed. “It supposedly was our honeymoon,” Kay laughs. “That was when the Vietnam War was going on, and Ken had orders and was gone for about a year. I moved back to the family dairy farm, and when he returned, we moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he finished his tour.” After his discharge in the early 1970s, Ken and Kay moved back home and started their own dairy farm. “My dad gave us a piece of land across from our family farm to build our place on,” Kay recalls. “My dad’s nickname was ‘Dutch,’ and his parents were from The Netherlands, so we named our farm Dutch Acres, and it kinda stuck when we started the business.” Things went smoothly for several years, Ken explains. “Farming started getting tough in the 1980s, though, and we decided we needed to branch out into something else to get by. We decided we would try the ag equipment business and had some luck with it.” It was 1989 and the Tearmans started selling lawn and garden equipment part time out of a building across the street from their location in Franklin. By 1995, however, it was apparent they couldn’t do both, so they plunged into agriculture equipment sales and service full time. “Ken loves to farm, so it was hard for him to give it up,” remembers Kay. “But there wasn’t time for both, and the farm equipment business was good.” Ken bristles at the notion that it is difficult going from being a farmer to a businessman. “Farming is a business,” he stresses. “When we were farming, we had a general understanding of how to run a business. But when we started a business working directly with the public, we were faced with a number of new challenges. Our biggest challenge, of course, was we were the new kids on the block, and we had to get people comfortable with the products we offered and comfortable with us and the service we provided. We had to get them to the point where they trusted us and returned to us.” From selling lawn and garden equipment, Dutch Acres has expanded over the years to include sales, service, parts and accessories for the Mahindra, Ferris, Simplicity, Befco, Redmax and Grasshopper brands. “We sell tractors and equipment,” Ken says, “but the main thrust of our business is for people with small acreages. We have tractors from 22 horsepower all the up to a hundred. I guess, for lack of a better term, we cater more toward the hobby-type farmers and the equine industry.”
Ken and Kay Tearman While most of the customers in its Franklin location are from the immediate area, the Tearmans say the Mooresville location, because of its location along State Road 67, draws people from as far away as Bloomington and Terre Haute. Catering to the equine industry is a relatively new wrinkle in the Dutch Acres business plan. About eight years ago, the Tearmans moved from their farm in White River Township to a small farm in Needham Township, closer to Franklin in Johnson County. They no longer run a dairy operation, though. Rather, they raise POA (Ponies of America) ponies for show and sale. “We normally keep about 14 to 15 head,”
Ken says, “and that includes mares and babies. We were fortunate this past year because we raised and showed the national champion 2-year-old mare.” “This is our hobby,” Kate adds, “but it’s also a business. Still, it’s our stress reliever.” The farm equipment business has been good, the Tearmans say, although they’re reluctant to say exactly how good. “That’s for us and the IRS to know,” Ken explains. And though they’ve reached the station in life where most are contemplating retirement — Kay is 65 and Ken is 67 — the Tearmans are thinking about growth. “We hope to expand,” Ken says, “possibly opening up outlets in the Lafayette and Terre
Haute areas in the next few years.” Although the Tearmans hold steadfast to the principles that have helped them grow their business, they have made some concessions to the digital age. The company maintains a website (dutchacresequipment.com), from which customers can learn about the business and its products and request service. It also does a considerable amount of radio advertising and runs a bid ad on a digital billboard near its Mooresville location. “Things have changed considerably since we launched our business,” Ken says. “But our guidelines have never changed: Treat customers like we want to be treated.” *FI
“My dad’s nickname was ‘Dutch,’ and his parents were from The Netherlands, so we named our farm Dutch Acres, and it kinda stuck when we started the business.” —kay tearman
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Eric Lucas carries on his grandfather’s dream
t started with a pickup truck, a $300 investment in catfish and a dream. Edna Spiehler doesn’t remember where or how her late husband, Howard Spiehler Jr., came up with the idea for Spiehler Fish Farm. She doesn’t remember the year the two of them first took to the road to sell fish, but she knows the farm has been in business close to 50 years. The couple, originally from Indianapolis, purchased their Jackson County property in 1952. Edna does remember that first trip, hauling fish in that pickup truck, setting up shop in a parking lot on a Saturday in early spring. It was at a small shopping center in Ferdinand, Edna recalls, and people flocked to their truck. “There were so many customers, it looked like a big circus,” she says. “They (shopping center vendors) said we couldn’t come back because there was no room for their customers.” So the next time they visited that community, the
story By marcia walker photos by josh marshall
Edna Spiehler holds a photo of her late husband, Howard, and stands with Aaron, left, and Eric Lucas at the Spiehler Fish Farm in Seymour.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Spiehlers moved down the road to the Palm Garden Beer and Lunch, which Edna explains was a tavern and restaurant that was popular with German farmers in the area. “We just kept building up and building up,” Edna says of their customer base. Those Saturday trips continue today from March through November, although with a much larger truck and with Edna’s grandson, Eric Lucas, at the steering wheel. “We park all over the place,” Edna says. “I always call the store and ask if it’s OK.” All over the place means from one end of Indiana to the other; although at one time, the Spiehlers included stops in Kentucky. Edna says most store owners welcome them, since the arrival of the fish truck attracts business for the store as well as for the Spiehlers. At 89, recovering from heart issues and hip surgery, she no longer makes road trips. But until the last year or so, Edna still helped feed the fish, using a golf cart to ride over the rutted, bumpy ground of the 142acre farm near Waymansville. And Edna is still a vital part of the business, answering the phone, calling store owners to schedule visits, paying the bills and placing advertisements in publications in the communities they plan to visit. Over the years, the people the Spiehlers have dealt with have become more than customers — they’ve become friends. As Edna has dealt with her recent health issues, her customers have reached out with support through cards, notes and even gifts. “Her customers treat her like family,” her daughter, Teresa Lucas, explains. “They send her flowers, candy.” Today, most of the heavy manual labor falls to Eric. His son, Aaron, a student at Seymour High School, lends a hand on Saturdays, and they usually add a third person to help with Saturday sales. The fish farm is all Eric has ever wanted to do. “It’s the only thing I’ve done my whole life, since I was 10 years old,” he says. “Between my grandpa
and me, we built every pond on this place.” Eric says his grandfather began with one threeacre pond. Today, there are approximately 120. During a tour of the property, Eric explains that as some are taken out of service, new ones are built. Every two to three years, the ponds have to be cleaned of the mud and organic waste that accumulates over the years. Eric says he has started building smaller ponds. While it means fewer fish per pond, he explains that it also means fewer chemicals, and it’s easier to trap fish, a job that involves dragging a seine, or dragnet, through the water. “It takes two people on each side ... It’s like pulling an auto through the pond; it’s not easy,” Eric says. Today, the fish are hauled in a 22-foot flatbed truck that is equipped with 14 separate tanks. “It’s a lot nicer (setup) now,” Eric says. Catfish are still sold, but other varieties have been added as well, including albino catfish, Japanese koi, butterfly koi, hybrid bluegills and largemouth bass. “We can haul 1,400 gallons of water, 14 different kinds of fish,” Eric explains, estimating they haul about 2,000 pounds of fish on each trip. Their biggest sellers are hybrid bluegill. Eric believes that’s because they grow so fast, as much as six inches a year. He says it can take regular bluegill three years to reach the size of a 1-year-old hybrid. Eric, approaching his 41st birthday, is something of a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the farm. He knows the effects of water temperature, air temperature, oxygen levels and weed control, and how fast different fish grow. “My grandfather learned by trial and error; he passed it on to me,” he says. “My grandfather taught me everything he learned; he was old school. There was no such thing as computers.” Although the season for sales lasts from March to November, there is plenty to do the rest of the
year. There is always repair and maintenance, and ponds are monitored throughout the winter to be sure there is enough oxygen to sustain the fish. Eric is concerned about the economy, noting the escalating costs, including fuel for the equipment and even the fish feed, a special high-protein mix ordered from a company in Iowa. He says the family goes through about three tons of feed a month. He also knows that the customer base, built by his grandparents, is aging, recognizing a need to find new, younger customers. “For the most part, this is a luxury item,” he explains. “But some people see it (eating fish) like a natural, healthy and organic way of living.” Eric says his grandfather passed off the responsibility of maintaining the farm to him. Eric wants to do that, but he is not sure he can battle the economy. If he can’t keep the farm going, he doesn’t know what he’d do to make a living. His grandfather tried his hand at a variety of occupations, including carpentry and logging, but his passion was the fish farm. “My grandpa loved this more than anything else he did,” Eric says. “I’d like to carry on my grandpa’s dream.” *FI
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Selling hybrid bluegills, hybrid redears, largemouth bass, channel catfish, fathead minnows, albino catfish, Japanese koi, butterfly koi, crappie
LEFT: Aaron Lucas fishes at Spiehler Fish Farm. RIGHT: Eric Lucas gathers koi for a customer.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Nick and Audrey Schultz work to ensure their coffee isn't your average bag of beans
story By sherri dugger photos by kathy rondomanski
A New Recruit for ISDA
Conservation Cropping Initiative
Gina Sheets, Indiana State Department of Agriculture director, recently announced the appointment of Connie Neininger as the ISDA’s director of economic development and trade. Neininger’s broad background in facilitating job creation in rural and agribusiness communities was cited as one reason for her appointment. “Connie is passionate about Indiana and serving this great state,” Sheets said in a press release. “It will be a true joy to work alongside her as ISDA strives to drive the advancement of agronomic technologies and promote the sound stewardship of our landscape.” Neininger comes to ISDA from northern Indiana, where most recently she has been president of the Cass Logansport Economic Development Organization. Prior to that, she was the White County director of economic development. Among the economic development projects Neininger has been involved with are the $1.2 billion Meadow Lake wind farm, the BioTown USA Development Authority, the construction of two methane-conversion energy plants by Waste Management at Liberty Landfill, and a $350 million iron ore pellet plant, converted from an ethanol facility, in Reynolds, the press release states. She also organized the Western Indiana Sustainable Energy Resource group and chaired the Midwest Indiana Economic Development region, now known as Indiana’s Technology Corridor.
According to a recent press release, Indiana’s Conservation Cropping Systems Initiative for Soil Health and Productivity project is expanding to test conservation practices on typical soils across the state, mentor conservation-oriented farmers and inspire greater adoption of conservation systems by Indiana producers. Four regional hubs — at the Purdue University Diagnostic Center, Northeastern Purdue Agriculture Center/Wabash Farm, Southeast Purdue Agriculture Center and a farm at Vincennes University managed by the Dubois County Soil and Water Conservation District — will host the demonstration and study plots for this three-year project, the press release explained. Each regional hub represents soil types, climate and topography common to its area. The hubs will provide opportunities for hands-on learning, one-on-one communication and long-term evaluation of the adoption of soil health systems. They also put these demonstration plots within easy reach of nearly every farmer in the state. The initiative will monitor and measure the impacts of various conservation systems on soil health, including nutrient cycling, soil water availability and plant growth. The practices that will be used and monitored include long-term continuous no-till/strip-till methods, as well as the use of cover crops, precision technology, and nutrient and pest management practices. In conjunction with the regional hubs, 12 farmers will host demonstration sites on their farms, comparing their current conservation systems with programs that introduce new practices. “We see great value in working with farmers to conduct trials in real time, in real conditions and on their own farms across the state,” said Mike Dunn, director of production and environment for the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Indiana Soybean Alliance. “The corn and soybean check-off programs support this project to help farmers collect localized data that can help them make informed decisions when implementing conservation practices in their fields.” For more information, visit www.ccsin.org.
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Farm Payments Resume Farm payments for the 2011 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments Program (SURE), the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program (NAP) and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program (MILC), which had been temporarily suspended due to sequestration, were recently resumed, according to a press release sent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). On March 4, FSA instituted a temporary suspension of FSA program payments in order to assess the impact of sequestration and determine the least-disruptive process possible for carrying out required budget cuts. Producers should be advised that program sign-up periods currently under way have the following enrollment deadlines: 2013 Average Crop Revenue Election (ACRE) Program, June 3; 2011 SURE, June 7; and the 2013 Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program, Aug. 2. Producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency office as soon as possible for appointments to enroll in these programs before the deadlines.
Farm Indiana // june 2013
ick Schultz picks up the phone to discuss his coffee-roasting venture, Brown County Coffee Co., which he and his wife, Audrey, started approximately six years ago, and he quickly explains that he’ll be multitasking during the conversation. “I’m in the last minute of a roast,” he says. What does that last minute entail? “We’re trying to amplify the smoke flavor, so we shut off the air supply and let the bean absorb its own smoke,” he explains. “(The end result) tastes leathery and smoky. You can smell the smoke when you’re brewing.” The Schultzes, both coffee enthusiasts prior to starting their business, began roasting their own beans in 2005 because they were already making their own espressos at home and roasting the beans was another way “to own the process,” Nick explains. “We were having issues finding well-roasted fresh coffee in the area.” In 2007, they turned coffee roasting into a business because the couple “needed a night job,” to bring in more income, he says, “because we had some serious medical bills from the birth of our two children.” That night job has quickly turned to a day job, and an evening job, and a weekend job for the entrepreneurs. Their success has come in part due to the quality of their products, but—in the beginning—it developed simply because Nick hit the streets. He went door-to-door to local restaurants to market the coffee beans they were roasting. As the couple have grown their business, they had to move to a larger location on Greasy Creek Road to roast and store their beans, approximately a ton of which is delivered to the warehouse each week. And all the coffee that comes in goes out quickly. “We try and never sell a product that’s over a month old,” he says. “We’re the only people in Indiana who put dates (of when the coffee was roasted) on our bags. “Fresh-roasted coffee with a date on the bag makes all the difference from a consumer’s perspective,” he explains. “Coffee is more like a bread product as far as how quickly you want to consume it. People are conditioned all over the world to accept stale coffee. Get your hands on something that is hours off the roaster. It has an amazing complex flavor. There’s nothing else like it.” Brown County Coffee Co. supplies customized house blends to Nashville restaurants and cafes, like Muddy Boots Café and The Hobnob, and it also sells to Bloomingfoods Market and Deli in Bloomington, where shoppers can buy beans by the bag. During warmer weather, the Schultzes also do big business at the Bloomington Farmers Market, where lines form quickly to get a fresh cup of their brews. In the end, Nick says he has always felt entering into the coffee-roasting business was a good plan. “We knew that there were all these people who had never had a truly fresh coffee product,” he says. “We knew their reaction would be like ours was … like ‘Where has this been all my life?’” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
june 2013 | Section B
Dr. John Harker juggles life between a dentist’s office and a cattle farm
story By sharon mangas photos by josh marshall
r. John Harker, 67, of Hope is a busy man. He juggles the responsibilities of a thriving general dentistry practice with a successful family cattle breeding business, and he has no plans to retire from either career anytime soon. “I love to work,” he says. “Sometimes people say I like it a little too much. But if I’m not working, I’m not happy.” Activities on a recent Friday bear him out. On his regular day off from dentistry, farm duties call. Harker greets specialty veterinarian Dr. John Gunther and vet tech Mike Green, who’ve arrived from Michigan to handle embryo transfers for Harker’s prize Simmental cattle. Embryo transferring — a specialized breeding practice based on genetics — helps ensure the best possible calves will be produced. The two doctors have worked together for nearly 25 years. As Harker patiently explains embryo transfers, he excuses himself to take a call on his cellphone. It’s a patient with a dental problem. He has an “all-access” policy when it comes to taking care of his patients or others who need his assistance. Harker’s dedication to work was forged early on. “My dad (John Harker, 91) is the one responsible for my work ethic,” he says. “Dad made sure all his (seven) kids learned how to work hard. He instilled that in us. Dad was a farmer and a truck driver, and often worked from 4 in the morning until 11 o’clock at night. And he’d get up the next day and do it all over again. He and Mom (the late Ruth Harker) valued education and made sure we all graduated from college. As teenagers, my brothers and sisters and I baled hay, and we made enough
money every summer doing that to put two of us through a year of college.” Harker entered Purdue University in 1964 to study engineering, but after a few semesters, he decided a career behind a desk wasn’t for him. He took three years of prerequisite classes for dental school in three semesters. “I took 20 to 22 credit hours a semester, and sometimes I took 100 level and 500 level biology classes at the same time,” he says. “I wanted to get through dental school as soon as possible.” He married Barbara — his high school sweetheart — in 1966. “I grew up on a farm, too,” says Barbara, 66, “but my dad never let me drive a tractor. He was dead set against a woman doing that. Then I met John David, and he let me drive his tractor. My dad gave up at that point, and told me, ‘You belong to him.’” Courting Barbara with a tractor worked like a charm. They’ve been married for 46 years. After graduating from the IU School of Dentistry in 1971, Harker gained experience working for a dentist in Albuquerque, N.M., before returning to Indiana in 1973 to open his own dental practice. He purchased his farm just outside Hope — which once belonged to his grandparents — in 1979. The cattle breeding business started modestly. “On the advice of a neighboring farmer, we purchased two Simmental calves in 1986 as 4-H projects for our sons, Ben and Dan,” says Harker. Ten years later, when the boys were college age, he had to decide whether to expand the cattle operation or close it down. “The boys wanted to continue with the cattle, and that’s when we really began to expand the herd.” Today
See harker on B2
“I love to work. Sometimes people say I like it a little too much. But if I’m not working, I’m not happy.” —dr. john harkeR
John Harker works with his sons, Ben and Daniel, to load cows into a trailer for transport.
Farm Indiana // june 2013
harker // cont. from b1 Ben, 39, and Dan, 37, are partners in the farm operation, and both live close by. Ben’s in charge of crops, farming 500 acres of corn, soybeans, wheat and hay. Dan manages the herd of pure-bred Simmental and Sim-Angus cattle, which numbers about 150. Knowing which animals to breed is a complicated process. “It takes time to figure out what sires we’ll use to breed the cows each spring,” says Dan. “It's not a quick, easy decision; it’s a calculated thought-out plan. Dad and I discuss it at length each year. It’s very rewarding to see those decisions pay off 285 days later when the calves are born.” Barbara handles the financials for both
the dental office and the farm. She’s worked with her husband in one capacity or another throughout their married life. Dan’s wife, Jill, 37, a seventh-generation Angus breeder, handles the paperwork for the cattle. She maintains the registrations and records for each bull and cow, compiling thousands of statistics. Pure-bred cattle have pedigrees as complex as those of thoroughbred horses. Jill and Dan have two lively sons, Luke, 10, and Chase, 7. The boys are already learning the family work ethic. Luke raises Hereford cattle and has already won awards at the Indiana State Fair and the Hereford Junior Nationals. Chase shows his animals
RIGHT: (from left) John Harker, Barbara Harker, Ben Harker, Dan Harker and Jill Harker. In front are grandsons Chase, left, and Luke Harker. ABOVE: Chase locks down the shoulder holder squeeze chute. At just 7 years old, Chase knows the timing perfectly, closing the gates at just the right moment, even if he needs a little help gaining leverage on the device.
Farm Indiana // june 2013
John Harker walks with his grandson, Luke, through their pasture to check on cows on their Hope farm.
at informal “jackpot” shows, as he is still too young to show at official events. The boys travel to livestock shows all over the United States with their parents and grandparents. “Raising animals teaches the boys the values of hard work, dedication and how to understand finances,” says Jill. There’s a division of labor on the farm, but when it’s calving time, planting time or time to prepare for their annual Field of Dreams cattle sale, the family pulls together. “Whenever it’s crunch time and there’s work to do,” says Ben, “everybody pitches in and does it.” The Field of Dreams sale is held in September on Dan and Jill’s farm and draws close to 500 buyers and cattle aficionados from all over the United States. Several other Simmental breeders sell livestock at the event, and all the breeders involved share the cost of producing the show. This year the sale will be Sept. 15. Planning takes months. The stars of the cattle sale — the heifers — are born between January and April, so winter finds the family tending a barn full of babies. Dan carefully plans their nutrition needs to ensure the “girls” reach their full potential in time for the sale. (Bulls are sold separately at a spring sale in Nebraska.) Barbara plans the meals for attendees … no small feat given that the Harkers feed two meals to 500 people. Jill makes sure the cattle registration and health papers are in order. It’s a herculean effort, considering preparation for the sale is in addition to everyone’s usual day-to-day responsibilities. The efforts pay off. Harker cattle have won many awards, and the American Simmental Association has designated the Harker family as a leading Simmental breeder in Indiana. Harker bulls won grand champion status at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville, one of the most prestigious livestock shows in the United States, in 2010 and 2011. John Harker believes in giving back. His lifelong interest in education prompted 20 years of service on the Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. board. He recently concluded a six-year term on the American Simmental Association’s board, and this spring he was
elected to the Bartholomew County Rural Electric Membership Corp. board. “I try to limit myself to one outside commitment at a time,” Harker says. “When I serve on a board, my efforts are always about helping an organization or individuals find ways to do things better.” When asked about the greatest rewards of his busy life, Harker doesn’t hesitate: “Seeing my kids and grandkids grow up on a farm. There is no better place to raise a family. In my work life, I get a lot of satisfaction from the relationships I’ve built over the years with my patients. I’m seeing patients now who are the third, and sometimes fourth, generation of families I’ve treated. And I’ve also met a lot of fine people at cattle shows. I love the opportunity to meet people … getting to know their families, their backgrounds, and watching their kids grow up.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
In honor of Indiana’s limestone month, which the state celebrates in June, we went in search of creative uses for this Hoosier building block
Story by Jeff Tryon Photos by Josh Marshall
here is no natural source of limestone in Brown County to speak of, not the great white slabs of Bedford Oolitic limestone or Salem limestone, which are found in other parts of southern Indiana and have given substance to the monuments of government and business all over the United States. But there seems to be some kind of limestone connection in the fabled “hills o’ Brown,” if only with certain people who are drawn to limestone’s natural beauty and classic characteristics.
plentiful supply of top yielding bean varieties still available.
Daniel Gobin created a Hoosier version of Stonehenge for his Woodland Weddings amphitheater. OPPOSITE PAGE: The Gobins had this 1,500-pound Indonesean statue shipped home from Bali.
Farm Indiana // june 2013
To the Chapel Daniel Gobin of Wolfcreek Road, just east of the Brown/Bartholomew county line, has erected a 42-foot diameter limestone amphitheater with a raised stage, altar and limestone benches, which he uses for his Woodland Weddings venture. “I had been to Stonehenge in England (the iconic circle of standing stones that was raised approximately 4,000 years ago), and I got permission from the government to go inside the thing, and I was just so impressed with it. I really loved it,” Gobin explains. “After I came back to Indiana, I was at the quarry getting some stone, and I saw all these “roughbacks,” these quite big monolithic slabs that they were probably just going to throw away. And the idea just dawned on me that I could do something with that, make a kind of amphitheater with standing stones, something like Stonehenge.” B.G. Hoadley Quarries donated the discarded roughbacks, and Gobin began hauling about a half-million pounds of slabs to his property. He enlisted the help of Indiana artist Wendell Field, an accomplished and successful painter whose artistic abilities extend to wall murals, wood and stone carving and large rock gardens. Together, they poured a onefoot-thick circular concrete slab and, using an all-terrain vehicle, were able to stand the 10,000-pound stones on end.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Inside the standing stone circle, they built tiered-style seating in the manner of ancient Greek amphitheaters. The finished Greco-Celtic wedding chapel shares the remarkable acoustics of 4th century, B.C., auditoria, which allowed the voices onstage to be heard clearly without electronic amplification. “We’re thinking it would be a great place for music,” Gobin says. “The sound is so perfect in the thing you can’t believe it.” The raised stage and altar were built with stones salvaged from building foundations hand-cut in the late 1800s and capped with a hand-carved 7-foot Celtic-style limestone cross. Gobin admits he didn’t set out to build a Greco-Celtic wedding chapel as a business, he “just wanted to build something with those roughbacks.” But then his daughter made plans to get married, and “we decided to use it for her wedding,” he says. “Then other people were interested in it, so we’re starting to offer it for weddings.” The outdoor wedding venue also includes a stone table, a gazebo with seating for 12, a “Celtic stone circle” and fire pit, which seats a dozen or more, and a lotus pond. “We’re just now getting started; we’re trying to figure it out,” he says. “We’re going to build some more things out there around it.”
The Gobins' fireplace is housed in limestone carved by local artist Wendell Field.
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
aster limestone carver William Galloway lives in Brown County, although his Angelo Stone Co. (812-320-2026) is a little closer to the massive limestone deposits between Bloomington and Bedford. When Galloway, a nationally known architectural stone carver, was tapped to create a series of 8-by-5-foot carved limestone panels for the corporate headquarters of Eli Lilly and Co. in Indianapolis, he was struck by the design’s resemblance to Stonehenge. “They were trying to depict bridging the gap between science and nature,” Galloway says. “By erecting these stones showing plant life, nature stuff and quotes from some scientists that they liked, they were using symbols for both nature and science to bridge that gap, as if they were standing at the bridge, taking these natural products and through science making them into medicine that makes people’s lives better.” The assignment reminded him of the standing stones in Europe, he says. “Stonehenge is one of the most popular ones, but there’s like 50,000 standing stones from Eastern Europe to England. They’re everywhere.” Galloway’s journey in limestone has led him from the halls of academia to the stone quarries of Bedford, through Manhattan and national recognition, to an eventual limestone home in Brown County. His interest in art took him to Indiana University, where he also studied philosophy and religion. But the lack of instruction in stone sculpture moved him to leave school and seek the local
stone carving industry. Working at Bybee Stone Co., Galloway had access to renowned sculptors and carvers who taught him both the complex geometric techniques and the artistry necessary for stone carving. He moved from cutter to carver and, eventually, as master carver, he instructed several carvers and managed major installations, such as the 170ton pediment restoration on the Iowa State Capitol building. Galloway worked on a restoration of the old New York Times building, replicating carvings originally created more than a century ago from Indiana limestone by an Indiana stone carver. He had to match the original carvings exactly, without blueprints or notes. The limestone master was looking for a place in Brown County to be closer to his parents, and one day he went down a back road where he found a house — made of limestone — where he could establish his fine arts studio. “There are not many limestone houses in Brown County,” he says. “I thought, ‘I could work out here.’” The home was built by an exWorld War II pilot turned handyman. “From what I’ve heard, he built it himself, he hand-pitched the whole thing himself,” Galloway says. “Pitching is when you take a flat piece of stone, and you take a hammer with a big flat chisel and you knock a rough edge on it. And if you know how to do it right, it produces some really interesting patterns. “You can see each chisel cut, and you can tell when a guy’s good and when he’s not good, and this guy did a really good job; you can count the number of times he hit the chisel on each piece.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Fred Linville looks back on a lifetime down on the farm story By jeff tryon photos by josh marshall
n a long and successful farming career, 82-year-old Fred Linville has accumulated a lot, achieved much and acquired an overview of agriculture based on a lifetime spent on the farm. “Farms are getting bigger and bigger anymore,” he says. “It used to be that farmers made a living on 40 acres. They had a small dairy and farrowed a few sows and had chickens and everything. Now, I would say you actually need about 250 acres to make a decent living.” Linville has a great deal more than that. Over the years he has acquired land throughout Indiana. His family farms approximately 1,200 acres in Johnson and Shelby counties. He owns about 1,000 acres in Owen County, mostly in timber. He even
has an expanse (80 acres) in the Hualapai Mountains in Arizona, where the Linvilles spend winters.
The Farming Life Linville was born on a farm and has been involved in farming for most of his life. “My folks were just farm tenants, sharecroppers if you will, most of their lives,” he says. “They finally ended up with a little land, but they were tenant farmers.” The farming path that his parents took led to an interesting quirk of history for Fred and his wife, the former Helen Ann Miller. They both spent parts of their childhoods on the same Shelby County farm. “My wife’s folks rented a farm on shares, and my wife was born in this farmhouse.
They lived there until she was 7, then they moved away to another farm,” he explains. The Millers moved to a farm east of Edinburgh. “A few years later, my folks rented that farm, and we lived there while I went through most of my school years. A few years ago, Fred and Helen, who eventually married in 1952, acquired enough money to buy the property, “so we own that farm now and the house,” he says. “When we first got married I just worked as a farm hand,” he says. “And then I had the opportunity to farm a farm with a fellow on thirds; in other words, he furnished everything, and I did all the work, and I got a third of the profit. “That’s basically how I got started.” From there, the couple acquired a grain
elevator and a dairy operation, and eventually the two became a family of five, with 11 grandchildren. Last September, Fred and Helen celebrated their 60th anniversary.
The Dairy Business It was the purchase of a dairy business that helped the family make enough money to acquire most of their land over the years. But, eventually, Linville says, he had a milk barn moment that led him out of the dairy business, with a little help from radio commentator Paul Harvey. “We milked at 4 o’clock in the morning and 4 in the evening, and I was down there one morning because the hired hand didn’t show up,” he explains. “I was listening to Paul Harvey on the radio, and he was talking about how short life was,
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
LEFT: J.C., Fred, Wyatt, 16, Michael, 18, Maverick, 14, Anna, 12, Shannon, and Helen Linville. BELOW: Maverick Linville, 14, helps his sister, Anna, 12, care for goats raised on their family farm.
and if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, now’s the time to change. And, by golly, that hit me just right, because I wasn’t enjoying that at all.” Within about three months, he says, “we had a sale and quit the dairy business.” There was a downside to leaving the dairy business behind, he now recalls. “I thought we would starve to death for a while there because we were used to getting that milk check every two weeks for years,” he explains. “Then when we got to grain farming, you just had a harvest once a year. You had to get wise about not spending all your money at once.” The Linvilles did spend their money on occasion … to expand and grow their family business, as well as to help their community. They owned the K&L Grain Elevator in Franklin, where they bought and sold grain until just about 10 years ago. “As farmers got bigger, they got their own dryers, their own facilities, and we just closed down the grain
elevator as such,” Linville says. “We just use it for our own use now.” About 15 years ago, Linville partnered with the city to develop about 200 acres he owns on the north edge of Franklin as an industrial park. The project includes a 50,000-square-foot spec building on Graham Road. “It’s kind of a joint operation with the city,” he says. “I don’t get paid until they get paid.” He can tell the project is bearing fruit because of the increased traffic congestion. “We’ve lived here about 45 years, and I’d say traffic is probably 10 times more than it was,” he explains. “I stand out at the end of the lane getting the mail and complain about all the cars, and then I think, ‘I caused that, with the industrial park.’”
Family Fun Today, Linville’s son, Jason Clay (J.C.) Linville, runs the day to-day operations on the family’s land in Johnson and Shelby coun-
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
ties, where they grow equal parts soybeans and corn. Fred Linville’s grandsons, Michael, 18, and 16-year-old Wyatt, along with various neighbors and part-time helpers, also work on the farm. (Linville also mentions grandson, Maverick, 14, and granddaughter, Anna, 12.) His daughter, Charlotte Sullivan, does the bookkeeping. As for Linville, “I furnish the money and do the worrying,” he explains. “I still do a little,” he adds. “Not a whole lot, but I still drive a tractor some. I think sometimes they’d just as soon I went to the house.” Linville keeps a couple of horses for riding, but his hobby is collecting antique wagons and the eight-mule team that pulls them. “We’ve got some covered wagons and things we play with,” he says. “We do parades and that kind of stuff, mostly down in Owen County.” The Linvilles take the mules to Arizona with them each winter in January and February. “We’re about 25 miles up a dirt road in the mountains,” he says. “It’s pretty high in elevation, about 3,000 feet elevation. It gets pretty cool at night, but in the daytime in January and February it gets up to 60 or 65 degrees.” Linville says the changes he’s seen in farming over the years include much higher yields and the technology needed to produce them. “They have to be up on the chemicals and seed and insecticide and fertilization program more than I had to be when I was growing up,” he says. “That’s where I have really fallen away in the past few years since I haven’t been real active; I have no idea the chemicals that will be used for weed control and pesticide. It really changes fast.” Linville says that while more farmland is being taken out of production each year, yields have increased dramatically. “When I first started farming, we were talking about 35 to 40 bushels per acre; but now, if you don’t get 150 or 160, you’re not in the ball game,” he says. He’s seen the financial side of farming change, too. “Like I tell my son, basically it’s
ABOVE: J.C. Linville backs a tractor out of a barn at his home. LEFT: The grain elevator located near Graham Road Industrial Park is now used solely by the Linville family, but was once a large operation that dried and stored grain for farmers before closing 10 years ago. BELOW: J.C. Linville owns the first diesel tractor sold in Johnson County, shown here at the time of delivery in July 1936.
just the same as it was, money-wise, you just add more zeros. You add another zero to the price of corn, and you add two more zeros to the price of equipment. The bottom line is about the same.” Linville contemplates a lifetime spent in fields and barns dealing with equipment and animals. “I don’t know any different,” he says. “You just do what needs to be done, and that’s it. I really don’t have any negatives about it. If I was starting over again, I would basically try to do the same thing that I have done in the past.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
From July 5-13, thousands will converge on the Bartholomew County 4-H Fairgrounds to take in the sights and sounds of the annual county fair. But for some, the fair offers more than just giant corn dogs and Ferris wheels. Many students, like 18-year-old David Fosbrink, have spent months preparing to show their animals in the fair’s highly touted livestock shows. Here, we catch a glimpse into the life of Fosbrink as he prepares for the big day.
David Fosbrink David Fosbrink will show a Hereford heifer and a Hereford steer at this year’s county fair. The 18-year-old Bartholomew County resident also shows livestock at the Hereford Jr. Nationals and the North American International Livestock Exposition each year. Fosbrink boards his animals on the 80-acre property owned by his parents, Jerry and Janet Fosbrink. It is here where David grooms his animals daily, washing, drying and styling them. By regularly grooming them, David says he learns to better “hide the faults” of their bodies for later presentation. David also often administers drugs to the heifers to bring them into heat, so that they can be artificially inseminated. Most days of the summer, David can be found on his fishing boat on the family's property, accompanied by friends (shown here are Ethan Meyer, 19, left, and Zach Morey, 19, middle).
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Name-brand synthetic fertilizers often contain toxins, like ammonium phosphate, which can be damaging to your garden in the long run. Organic alternatives do exist and will allow you to safely and naturally get better blooms and bigger yields. “We tell people synthetic fertilizers are a quick fix,” says Tyler Fleming of Worm’s Way Organic Gardening Supplies in Bloomington. “They do feed the plant, but we want to feed the soil and treat our soil like it’s living, because it is.”
There’s nothing more refreshing than cool, crisp cucumbers on a hot summer’s day. Pair them with other nutritious green veggies and cream cheese, and you’ve got the perfect picnic food. Spread this mixture, offered to us by Tom Phillips of Artists Colony Inn in Nashville, on your favorite bread or crackers for a tasty snack.
Adding just two or three of the following ingredients to your soil, Fleming suggests, will work wonders on your garden.
Compost: Adds nutrients, attracts earthworms and introduces beneficial microorganisms into the garden.
Chicken manure: Make sure to use “aged” manure, Fleming says, to avoid burning your plants.
Sandwich or Cracker Spread
Earth worm castings:
2 8-ounce packages cream cheese ¼ cup sour cream 2 celery stalks 1 small stalk broccoli ½ green pepper 3 cucumber slices
Contain many beneficial bacteria and enzymes.
Bat guano: One of nature’s most complete plant foods.
In a mixer place cream cheese and sour cream. Mix together until smooth. In a food processor puree the celery, broccoli, cucumber and green pepper. Then add to cream cheese mixture and combine. Recipe courtesy of Tom Phillips, Artists Colony Inn, (812) 988-0600
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
There’s more than corn in Indiana. There’s popcorn.
story By kate franzman photos by amanda waltz
arole Buck of Not Just Popcorn knows this fact well. With dill pickle, bacon and cheese pizza, champagne and other Willy Wonka-esque flavor offerings of popcorn at her retail shop in Edinburgh, she’s knows well that popcorn is not “just” popcorn; it’s something more.
ABOVE: Carole Buck. RIGHT: Barbara Hill, left, and Dawna Roberts work together to fill packages of popcorn. BELOW: Multiple flavor options are displayed in the retail space.
Established in 1989, Buck’s store offers popcorn concoctions available in sample size all the way up to 6½-gallon tubs and now ships worldwide. The production factory sits adjacent to the retail store and offers weekly group tours. Guides take visitors through the process of growing, harvesting, popping, coating and packaging the popular snack. Buck started her business with only eight flavors of popcorn. Now she offers up to 373 flavors, and when she can, she buys her popcorn kernels from local farmer, Randy Weinantz of Weinantz Farms in Edinburgh. “The relationship started when I opened my business,” says Buck. “Randy came in and said he grew popcorn. I just tried his popcorn and liked it — it was so fresh.” But Weinantz has been unable to supply to Not Just Popcorn for the past two growing seasons. The historic Midwest drought of 2012 hit all crops — including popcorn. “Last season was bad for popcorn,” says Weinantz. “We haven’t seen anything like this since 1983. We’ve been supplying Carole with our popcorn for years. We’d like to start again.” Indiana ranks second in popcorn production, producing 269 million pounds annually, according to the USDA. The drought sent Buck looking elsewhere for her popcorn supply, but she hopes to rekindle the farm-to-shop relationship with Weinantz when his crop recovers. “Hopefully this year we’ll go back to using his corn, because I’ve always used it,” says Buck. “Randy still stops in the shop; in fact he was just in here yesterday.” *FI
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Farm Indiana // june 2013
Saturday, April 27 Plummer Family Farm, Decatur County Each April, farmers gather to show off their vintage tractors at the farm of Butch and Mona Plummer in Decatur County. This intimate event is never promoted, nor does it offer public restrooms or concessions to guests. Itâ€™s simply a day to renew friendships, discuss new projects, dig up some dirt and celebrate agricultureâ€™s rich history.
Photos by Greg Jones
1. On a restored International H, Shawn Plummer pulls a plow. 2. Ivan Wessel drops the plow of his sulky, as he gently urges his team of horses forward. 3. Shawn Plummer, Bill Wonnig and Paul Otte 4. Otte's plow, after plowing a few rows. 5. Tyler Schafstall was one of the youngest plow operators. 6. Schafstall leads a row of tractors on a Deutz Allis. 7. Using true horse power, Jake Taylor rides a disc through a plowed field. 8. Steve Thomas rides through the field on a Minneapolis Moline.
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Published on May 15, 2013