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Table of Contents Drought of 2012
Remembering 1934 drought
Drought of 1954
Drought of 1980
Gregory works toward dream
Treon raises vegetables
Hurricane remnant saves beans
Hoping for more rain in 2013
Temple Grandin coming to town
Women in Ag event grows
Marshall FFA rises above others
Miles spends life on farm
General Manager & Ad Sales Susan Duvall
Editor Marcia Gorrell
Designers Marcia Gorrell and Eric Crump
Cover Design Jacob Hatfield
Contributing editors Kelsey Alumbaugh, Sarah Reed, Eric Crump
Publisher Shelly Arth Reproduction or use in whole or in part of the contents, without prior written permission of the publisher, is strictly prohibited.
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The drought of 2012:
Worse drought, better crops By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
The drought of 2012 has been compared to many from the past. But by the end of the summer, many compared it to the Dust Bowl Days of the 1930s. Past records indeed show 2012 was definitely among the warmest and driest years Missouri has ever had. According to NOAA, 2012 was the third warmest April through August. The only warmer years were 1934 and 1936. In rainfall — or lack of — rainfall, 2012 was the second driest April through August, with 1901 the driest year. Records show 1936 was the third driest. However, despite the records, area farmers still yielded some crops in 2012, which made it different than previous drought years. Retired farmer Homer Pointer, 90, was 12 years old during the drought of 1934. He said the weather this year
was every bit as hot and dry — if not worse — than those years. “But technology on the corn, one thing or another (has changed) and a lot of these farmers they had a fair crop ... but in those days you didn’t raise anything,” Pointer said. “Fertilizer and chemicals and seed corn — they’ve improved that so much — that’s the only reason they raised a crop this year.” In the 1930s, farmers didn’t even have hybrid corn, the seed was still open-pollinated. “If they had to go back to that old Reed’s yellow dent, like we planted back in the ‘30s, they wouldn’t have had no corn,” Pointer said. Another retired farmer, Dale Miles, remembers the drought of 1954. He said this year, would have been as bad had it not been for the improved hybrids and genetically modified crops. Another difference is the amount of tillage farmers do now, compared to the past. At that time they plowed all the ground and then disked several times. See 2012 Drought, page 5
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2012 Drought Continued from page 4
“It took quite a bit of your moisture in the spring,” he said. “Since then, we do minimum till or no-till and that’s made a difference.” According to records, the 1980 drought wasn’t as severe as this year’s drought. However, Gabe Ramsey, sales manager for Central Missouri Agri-Service said in 1980 farmers had a lot lower yields than this year. “We had the high hot winds right during pollination and that just killed our pollination (in 1980),” he said. “We did have some late rains and we did have a late bean crop but our corn was terrible.” He said there are several differences today, beginning with the hybrid seeds. “I think number one we were dealing with hybrids that See 2012 Drought, page 6
By early July, it was obvious area corn fields were under stress from lack of rain and high heat.
2012 Drought Continued from page 5
weren’t suited for that extreme of drought,” Ramsey said. “But a lot of our breeding we are dealing with today, actually started development in the ‘80s. We just have a lot better drought tolerant plants today.” He said another difference between 1980 and today is earlier planting dates. “We hadn’t accepted the idea of planting corn as early as we are today,” he said. “Consequently it put our corn plant in a very vulnerable position and we had a lot of really hot, dry, days with high winds it just sterilized the pollen, so the corn never pollinated in ‘80.” This year, the majority of corn in the area did pollinate. “Usually you can tell from your early sweet corn about how well the pollination is occurring, and most of our sweet corn was pollinated pretty well,” Ramsey said. In 1980, before the invention of today’s genetically modified seeds, farmers tilled the ground much more often. “You took quite a bit of your moisture in the spring See 2012 Drought, page 7
Remembering heat and work of 1934 drought By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
As a 12-year-old growing up on the family farm in the Blackwater River bottoms near Blue Lick, Homer Pointer remembers the drought of 1934. “It was like it was this year,” Pointer, 90, said of the weather. “It was hot and dry and we didn’t raise a dog-gone ear of corn.” Of course, in the time before air-conditioning sleeping in the hot weather, which topped 100 degrees several days, was a challenge. “You slept out in the yard. It was a mess,” he said. “You look back at it and you wonder how you lived through it, you know.” One of those nights, a storm did come in, while he and his siblings were
sleeping outside. “It came up a big storm one time and we always had a bunch of chickens and they run loose, you know, and the chicken feathers were flying like you can’t believe,” he said. “We ran for the house, getting out of that wind.” They had to be creative to keep the livestock fed. “We lived down there on the Blackwater bottom, and of course had a lot of old trees down in there, and we’d take a cross cut saw and an axe and go down there and cut down an elm tree,” Pointer said. “Those old cows would eat every leaf there was. I don’t know how they made it but they did.” He said they would feed one or two trees a day, depending on what the See 1934, page 8
Homer Pointer was growing up on his family farm in 1934 when the drought hit. Today, Pointer, 90, is retired from farming but still works for the city of Marshall and was recently named the Region 5 Missouri Outstanding Older Worker.
2012 Drought Continued from page 6
(by tilling), said Miles. “Since then you minimum-till or no-till and that’s made a difference. According to Wayne Crook, University of Missouri Extension agronomist, tillage can take almost an inch of water out of the topsoil. No-till has definitely helped us conserve moisture,” Ramsey added. “In late July, I was actually checking bean fields and in the corner of the field I could hear water running.” He said two field tiles were still draining a little water from the field. “We had subsoil moisture this year. I think we rooted our corn down well enough that we were pulling on a lot of subsoil moisture this time, that’s how we kind of held on.”
Other differences between previous droughts and this drought were soybeans, or the lack of soybeans. In the 1930s and 1950s, soybeans weren’t grown as commodity crops. However in 1980 and again in 2012, they have proven to hold on better through the drought, and take advantage of late summer rains. “Beans have helped because they’re pretty tough,” Miles said. “This year proved that.” For farmers, crop insurance is another advantage, helping to protect against risk. “Thats improved your chances quite a bit too,” Miles said. “And it’s a must anymore. The cost of putting in a crop is so high, you need a little help.” Contact Marcia Gorrell at email@example.com
1934 Continued from page 7
cows needed. Farmers also fed the cows straw, pouring molasses over the bales. “The old farmers would kid each other about buying molasses,” he said. “They’d fool the cows. They’d think they were eating grass.” To feed their pigs, they cut weeds, specifically pigweed, out of the corn. “You’d go out in the corn field and you’d pull those things out of ground and pack them over the fence to where the hogs was, and they’d eat those weeds like crazy,” Pointer said. “I’m sure they didn’t do no good off of them,
This map, from the New York Times, shows the areas affected by drought in 1934, 1935 and 1936.
but they stayed alive.” The next year, 1935, was a very wet year, Pointer remembers. In many ways, that year was harder, especially since farming was accomplished with a team of mules or horses. Getting crops planted and harvested was difficult.
“You didn’t see many tractors then,” he said. Pointer remembers 1936 as another very dry, hot year. That year, they again didn’t raise any corn. In those days farmers didn’t raise soybeans. Although some states experienced dust storms during those drought years,
Pointer said he really doesn’t remember that being a problem. “Not like it did out in Kansas,” he said. “When the wind came real high, from the west, you could tell it, but it wasn’t that bad here.” Contact Marcia Gorrell at firstname.lastname@example.org
In drought of 1954, farmers didn’t raise any corn By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Retired farmer Dale Miles, 78, of rural Marshall, remembers the drought of 1954. He had only been farming fulltime with his father for two years. “We never even got our picker out of the barn that year,” he said. “The stalks never put an ear on.” They were able to salvage some feed value by cutting the stalks for silage. To utilize the feed, they purchased more cattle and “gave our labor away.” “By the time everybody else does that in this
According to maps from the New York Times, there has never been a time when somewhere in the continental U.S. was not experiencing drought. Area farmers remember the droughts of 1954 and 1956, when little to no corn was raised in the county.
part of the country, you pay too much for the cattle and they’re all ready about the same time,” he said, laughing. Miles said because of the improvements in seed corn and with the invention of air conditioning it is
hard to compare 1954 with the drought of 2012. But he remembers it was “hotter than the dickens.” “If I remember right, it got to 110 several days,” he said. That year was also the
first — and last — year of a joint hog adventure with their neighbor, who had just retired and was renting the ground to Miles and his father. “He put in 25 gilts and we put in 25 gilts. We See 1954, page 9
1954 Continued from page 8
turned them loose up in this brush to farrow out,” Miles explained. “We never knew how many pigs we had, but the water holes started drying up and the gilts would take the pigs into the mud and they’d get stuck.” By the time they were done they only ended up with 25 market hogs out of 50 gilts. “That ended our hog venture at the Buck place,” he said. “It’s not hard for me to remember that.” He said the other hogs they had on their farm were fed a complete feed. “We kept corn over to keep us going until April or May,” he said. “Then you had to scrape around and find something to feed until harvest,” he said. They had a field of alfalfa hay, which kept their cows fed. “The first two cuttings were good, then it tailed off,” he said. “Alfalfa is a good crop, the roots are deep.” By the end of the year it got almost unsafe to walk in the alfalfa field. “The cracks were almost two inches wide,” he said. “It was just so dry, the ground just cracked wide open.”
Although they didn’t have air-conditioning, Miles, who was single at the time, said he slept in the basement of his parent’s house. “My dad dug a basement under the house in 1951,” he said. “I’d go down in the basement and sleep, so much cooler. We had window fans which helped, sucking air through the house. It was miserable.” Old time farmers often believed the old adage, “Plant wheat in the dust and your bin will bust.” With that in mind, and with no cash crop the year before, farmers in the area planted a lot of wheat in the fall of 1954. That meant long lines at local elevators the following summer, and a drawn out, frustrating harvest. “I don’t know if there were any 10-wheelers then. I remember sitting in line waiting with a pick-up at Fletchers, with wheat in (19)55,” Miles said. Most people didn’t have their own bins at the time and the local elevator couldn’t get any rail cars in to ship the wheat. The pickups only held about 75-80 bushels at a time. “We waited several hours,” he said. “Those days when you were waiting the tempers were short. There weren’t any fights, but close to it.” By the time he would get the back to field, his father See 1954, page 10
1954 Continued from page 9
would already have another bin full in the combine, which held about 25 to 30 bushels. “Then he would have to cut another one to fill the truck,” Miles said. “It all meant the harvest stretched out a long time.” Another retired farmer, Homer Pointer, 90, also remembers the drought of 1954. He was farming on his own south of Marshall. He said they didn’t raise any corn that year, similar to 1934 and 1936. He also recalled the extreme heat. “One evening we was putting that straw in the barn and it was 110 in the shade, but we didn’t think nothing about it, we was used to it,” he said. “But today you couldn’t live.” They didn’t raise any corn, but did put up a lot of silage. Pointer bought a new field cutter and cut silage on all his brother’s farms. “We didn’t ever hire no help,” said Pointer, who was from a family of eight brothers and two sisters. “We went from one farm to the other, filling silos the same way.” What corn was left that year was eaten by grasshoppers. He remembers one 60-acre field of corn on his farm south of Marshall. “You never saw so many grasshoppers in your life,” he said. After being sprayed by a crop duster, the grasshoppers died. “It killed the heck out of them, but we would have been better shape to not spray, because we still didn’t raise no corn. But that’s the way farming goes, you know. Old-timers used to joke the grasshoppers would “eat the handle off a pitchfork,” he said. Pointer remembered 1956 being another dry year, although they did raise a little corn, “maybe 25 bushels.” They also put up a lot of silage area that year as well.
Farmers in Saline County remember 1980 as the most recent drought year. According to this graphic from the New York Times, that drought wasnʼt as widespread.
Corn crop didn’t pollinate during drought of 1980 By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
When this year turned off hot and dry, many farmers began comparing it to the drought in 1980. Gabe Ramsey, sales manager for Central Missouri AgriService, had been working at Fletcher Grain for just a few years before that summer. “1980 was probably the worst (corn) crop we had,” he said. “There was less corn than we had this year.” He said high, hot winds right during pollination prevented many fields from making seeds. “It caught it in pollination and sterilized the pollen,” he said. “That was one of the big differences, other than the hybrids.” Ramsey said he remembers the temperatures were even higher in 1980. “We had such a long period of time of dry, hot weather, but we didn’t have the extreme heat that we had in ‘80,” he See 1980, page 13
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Gregory works toward his dream By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
This fall, after finishing his day job in Marshall, Kurtis Gregory headed to his family’s farm near Blackburn to plant wheat before winter weather hits. Using an FSA first-time farmer loan, Gregory is starting to make his dream of farming a reality. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m finally getting back and being able to do it,” said Gregory. “I guess the motivator was to get started while I was young,” he said. “If I was going to go in debt to start farming I might as well do it when I’m 26 as opposed to 30 or 32 or 34.” The loan has helped him buy equipment to farm land owned by his grandfather, Hubert Kiehl, in the Malta Bend and Blackburn area. “I’m share-cropping with grandpa,” Gregory said. “It’s basically all his ground.” He’ll be farming approximately 1,000 acres, planting wheat, corn, soy-
Kurtis Gregory and his fiance, Kella Topel of Marshall, stand in front of the tractor and planter Gregory has purchased with a first-time farmer loan. He also purchased a verticle tillage tool and seed tender. Gregory will be farming land owned by his grandfather, while still keeping a full-time job in seed production at Mid State Seeds of Marshall.
beans and hay. He also has a small cow herd. Gregory will keep working in seed production at Mid-State Seed, where he has been for the past two years. Working hard and juggling multiple activities isn’t new for Gregory, who was a star football player at Santa Fe High School and the University of Missouri. At Mizzou he was the start-
ing offensive lineman for 41 straight games, earning numerous honors for onfield and academic performance, including the Mizzou ROARS Varsity "M" Male Athlete of the Year in 2009, and was granted the Big 12 Chick-Fil-A Community Champion award. He earned two degrees while there, a bachelor’s and master’s in Agriculture.
He still does the postgame and half-time reports for Mizzou football and last year was a finalist for the color commentator job to replace John Kadlec. After several surgeries, including five on his knees, helped wrap up his football career, Gregory wanted a chance to farm. See Young, page 14
1980 Continued from page 11
said. “We had quite a bit of 110, 111 and 112 degree heat. This year we were at 105, we didn’t have quite the extreme we had in 1980.” Similar to this year, though, farmers did have some soybeans to harvest. “We did have some late rains and we did have a bean crop, but our corn was terrible,” Ramsey said. Dale Miles was one of the few area farmers who had irrigation during the 1980 drought. “I was irrigating 80 acres,” he said. “But we ran out of water, I don’t remember the date.” “The corn where it was
The drought of 1980 and drought of 2012, had average soybean yields, despite dry conditions. Early in the planting season, however, soybeans struggled to grow without any rain. Farmes didnʼt start raising soybeans until the 1960s.
irrigated made 115 (bushels per acre), and corn side-byside where we couldn’t get
water on it made 50,” Miles remembered. He said they had added
the irrigation, so they could ensure they had enough corn to feed their hogs.
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“I wish I would have done it when I got done with football,” he said. “But it got to a point where it was going to be now or never.” His father, Roger, got out of row-cropping in 2001, but still raises hogs. He’ll be helping Kurtis, as his “full-time” hired man. In turn, Gregory also will help him some with the hogs. “You could say dad is farming with me. It’s me financially, but it’s basically just a whole family conglomerate,” Gregory said. He’s already spent about two-thirds of his
Above, Kurtis Gregory gets ready to sow wheat on his farm near Blackburn. Using an FSA young farmer loan, Gregory was able to purchase a tractor, vertical tillage tool and 16-row planter, as well as a seed tender to begin farming. He will also use a tractor owned by his father, Roger, who will be helping him.
loan money, buying a tractor, a used 16-row no-till planter and a vertical tillage tool, as well as a seed tender. For now, local farmer Brian Miles will be harvesting his crops, but he hopes to someday buy a combine. Gregory is also trying to break into the customhay baling business. He has a baler, accumulator and grapple system, which
makes the square bales easy to move and store. This summer, he used the system to put up 60 acres of alfalfa they raise on their farm. He had a few baling jobs around the county this summer, and is hoping to get more business next summer. Starting to farm, especially while juggling a fulltime job, isn’t going to be
easy, but Gregory is ready. “Sometimes I wish I wasn’t this busy, but figured if I could, I should do it while I’m young,” he said. His lack of experience is what he worries about the most. “One farmer gets 40 or 50 good chances in a lifetime at it, where as other See Young, page 15
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Young Continued from page 14
people in other jobs get a chance at it every day,” he said. “The hard part of it for me is not having done it before.” However, he looks forward to the chance to be his own boss and work side-by-side with family. “I enjoy working with dad and being able to be in a family atmosphere with kids, wives, friends, or whoever comes out,” he said. Gregory is engaged to Kella Topel, of Marshall, and will be getting married later this month.
Top: Kurtis Gregory looks over his planter before heading off to sow some wheat. Above: Gregory starts planting in a field near Blackburn.
Treon raises vegetables on Miami bottomland farm By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Raymond Treon compares raising 50 acres of vegetables in the Miami bottoms to raising 50 children. “They all want something at the same time,” he said. He grows watermelon, canteloupe, tomatoes, sweet corn and peppers on a Saline County Century Farm owned by Kile Guthrey and his family. The vegetables end up on grocery store shelves across the Midwest. Buyers come to the farm to pick up about 90 percent of what Treon raises. “They come from Kansas, Illinois, Iowa and some from Arkansas,” he said. The vegetables are then sold in Price Chopper, Sunfresh, Thriftway, Apple Market and Patricia Foods. Treon comes from a long line of vegetable farmers. Back in the 1930s, his great-grandfather’s family, which included three boys and seven girls, raised 200 acres of melons in Illinois. “I’ve seen pictures of when the girls were young, they’d take these hay frames behind horses and haul melons from the field into Burlington to the railroad,” he said, adding they were shipped as far away as New York. “When my granddad came here he raised melons,” he said. “I’ve had melons over here in Carroll County on ground that my grandfather cleared off with an ax, right across the bridge here, near Dewitt.” Treon, now 72, farms about 450 acres in Saline and Chariton counties. With one full-time employee he raises See Treon, page 17
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Raymond Treon stands in his shop near Miami, soon after finishing the 2012 harvest. He raises about 50 acres of vegetables. He also raises rowcrops in Saline and Chariton counties.
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corn, soybeans and wheat, along with the vegetables. He also has a bulldozer and trackhoe business, building ponds, terraces, waterways and clearing brush. Raising vegetables is very labor intensive, especially since all of the vegetables, except sweet corn, are irrigated with drip irrigation. He said wet years make it hard to get things planted, but dry years like 2012 make the vegetables very expensive to raise. The cost of fuel to run irrigation pumps is one of the biggest costs. “They ran straight for seven weeks. We never shut
them off — 24 hours a day,” he said. “The pumps was taking about $1,200 worth of gas a week.”
now they sell them by the 1,000. They went from $5 a pound, to now over $250.
“Raising 50 acres of vegetables is like raising 50 children, they all want something at the same time.” Raymond Treon, Vegetable farmer The plastic he puts down has also increased a lot in cost, as have the seeds. “My tomato seed was $15 a thousand, now it’s $90 a thousand,” he said. “Watermelon seeds, used to buy them by the pound,
Beginning in February, they will plant tomatoes and put them in a heated greenhouse. Even in late October, the tomatoes still had large fruit and will keep growing until they finally freeze out for the winter.
He also has two greenhouses near his home in Dewitt, where he starts his own plants, before transplanting them with a tractor. During the growing season, he brings in help to pick the vegetables by hand, hiring mostly Hispanic workers from the area. Although he has always gravitated towards farming, Treon has had a variety of interesting careers throughout his lifetime. At one time he farmed almost 6,300 acres of row crops in the Missouri River bottoms, as far away as Glasgow and Wakenda. See Treon, page 18
Treon Continued from page 17
In 1974, he quit farming and bought an oil company. “I was a jobber. I had two service centers, sold wholesale, bulk delivery and all that,” Treon explained. Then for several years he fished commercially yearround. “There’s not a foot of the Missouri River that I haven’t been on from the Iowa line to St. Louis,” he said. “And the Mississippi from New Boston, to seven miles below Caruthersville. I’ve been on every foot of it.” He also fished on contracts for the states of Kansas and Illinois. “I don’t know how many millions of pounds of buffalo (carp) I caught,” he said. Now his son has taken over the commercial fishing business. Treon got back into farming full-time about 10 years after he got a call from Guthrey. “I was raising melons on Kile and he changed operators, and he kinda called me about 11 o’clock one night and said ‘You’re farming my ground next year,’ and I said, ‘Oh, really?” Treon said. “I said, ‘You better let me think about that.’ He said, ‘Okay, I’ll call you back in five minutes.’” Despite all the hard work, Treon said farming “gets in your blood.” “Every year I say I’m going to quit, but you know you get done and get cleaned up, and you say, “Aww, I guess I’ll try it again.” Asked if he has any advice for someone who wanted to raise vegetables, Treon said, “If you don’t want to work, don’t fool with it.” He said there is also a trick to growing food, just like any trade. “It’s something you don’t go and pick up right now,” he said. “What you do is a lot of trial and error. You just
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Raymond Treon poses in front of some of the 50 acres of vegetables he raises in the Miami River bottoms.
remember what works and what don’t work, you don’t mess with.” As for Treon, he will keep on going as long as he can. “I enjoy working, it don’t bother me,” he said. “It’s just a question of how much gas I’ve got left in my tank.” He and his wife, Carol, of 55 years, have one son, Bill, and two daughters, Debbie Perkins and Carol Benedick, along with six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
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Remnants of Hurricane Isaac save bean crop By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
It will be several years before area farmers forget the 2012 crop year. After setting records in both high temperatures and lack of rainfall, nationally the drought has been called the worst since the Dust Bowl days of 1934 and 1936. For much of the growing season, Saline County was included in the exceptional drought category by the U.S. Drought monitor. However, most farmers have said harvest turned out better than they ever hoped, partially due to improved seed genetics in corn and one
late rain for the soybeans. In late August, Hurricane Isaac poured anywhere from four to 12 inches of rain in the area. The result was a soybean crop, which most farmers had given up on. “I thought the calendar had caught us on soybeans and it was too late for that hurricane to help us,” said Gabe Ramsey, sales manager at Central Missouri AgriService in Marshall. But instead, the rain allowed the soybeans, which had been hanging on in the record drought, to make large seeds.
“I’ve never seen so much improvement from one rain that late in the season,” Ramsey said. “It was tremendous, about the size of that bean formed in the pod. I thought we’d have buck shot and we had really exceptional beans.” In the end, soybeans were just a little below average in the county, according to most experts. Many, depending on maturity and when they were planted, yielded in the 30 to 60 bushel range. The corn yields were lower in the See Crops, page 20
Crops Continued from page 20
area, yielding anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of average. However, they ranged greatly from reports of 220 bushels per acre in irrigated fields, while some fields didn’t yield any corn and were instead chopped for silage. “It could have been a whole lot worse for the amount of water we didn’t get,” said Mike Barringhaus, general manager of Farmer’s Grain Terminal in Slater. He said improved corn hybrids have made the difference. “The beans have always been tough, but the corn just yielded tremendously with the little amount of water we had,” he said. “If we had corn genetics from the 1980s, when we had the last major drought, I think it would have been a complete failure. That would be my thought.” One new problem this year was aflatoxin, a mold which grows on corn especially when it has been
damaged by cutworms and stressed by drought. Area elevators tested for the mold, even turning down some harvested corn. The mold can be harmful to humans and animals in varying amounts. “We had a slight touch in the beginning of August,” Barringhaus said. “As the season progressed it just kept growing, in the field and in the bin,” he
said. They had some aflatoxin last year, south of Interstate 70, but wasn’t widespread like it was in 2012. After testing every load, FGT was able to keep the damaged corn separate from the other corn. Although, there are many reasons soybeans did better than corn through the drought, one is the way
they grow, said Wayne Crook, University of Missouri Extension agronomist. “They’ve got a better chance later in the season because they can compensate for late season rains where corn can’t,” Crook explained. “Corn generally is harvested first, which means it’s mature before See Crops, page 22
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Crops Continued from page 21
the beans. So the beans have another two or three weeks they can actually produce yield if the rain comes.” He said corn only has one way of making extra yield — larger seed size. “Soybeans can also retain some seeds they would normally abort and they can make bigger seeds both,” Crook said. “They can also retain pods if they get the rain in time. If corn loses it they can’t come back.” Besides genetics, several other practices have changed since the last drought, including tillage.
What looked like the possibility of a dismal soybean crop in 2012 turned around unexpectedly when late rains filled out the soybean size.
Most farmers today use minimum or no-tillage to plant crops. “One time tilling the
field can take up to an inch of moisture,” Crook said. “If you make three passes (as many did in the 1980s)
that is three inches less water for growing crops.” Contact Marcia Gorrell at email@example.com
Hoping for more rain in 2013 By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
ubsoil moisture seems to be the buzzword for 2013.
After being in the exceptional drought category for much of 2012, Hurricane Isaac and scattered fall rains helped the county return to the moderate drought category for October, according to the National Drought Monitor. However, records show Saline County is still nearly 12 inches behind normal rainfall amounts. “We’ve been getting reports that the first couple inches of topsoil are wet and muddy,” said Mike Barringhaus, manager at Farmer’s Grain Terminal in Slater. “But down lower the subsoil has nothing. It’s completely drained of course, so we definitely need to get that recharged if we want a chance next year.” The drought of 2012 really began last fall, when dry weather allowed farmers to get a lot of field work completed. However, that period was followed by an unseasonably warm and dry winter.
“We survived really better than we ever thought, but I think it primarily was really due to the subsoil moisture we carried into the season into the middle part of the season in 2012,” said Gabe Ramsey, sales manager at Central Missouri AgriService in Marshall. He said, even with the lack of rainfall, he witnessed field tiles still draining moisture in July. Looking back on the recent history of droughts, there have never been two in the row in our county. “Usually there has been one year of some kind of change between, but nothing is impossible,” said Ramsey. “It would be really bad on our farm production if we were faced with two
droughts in a row to the extreme of what 2012 was.” Because of the dry weather, some farmers, especially south of Interstate 70 have planted more wheat this year. “It’s kind of an insurance crop,” said Wayne Crook, University of Missouri Extension agronomist. “You’ve got a better chance of getting something off of it, if it stays dry again next year. If you have a good year next year, and you can double crop, you can gross about the same per acre.” Most area farmers, though, are expected to stay with their normal 50-50 corn and soybean rotation. “That’s still the ideal
plan here,” Ramsey said. “We just see the benefit too much from the rotation to change.” Despite the drought, plenty of seed should still be available this spring. “Some of the old hybrids they actually ran short on last year and they actually planted extra acres in 2012, so they have plenty of seed for 2013,” Crook said. “With the drought, that saved them from being far behind.” However, experts suggest farmers who want certain hybrids should order their seeds well in advance of next spring. “I think we’ll get to the point where there will be plenty of seed available, but See 2013, page 25
2013 Continued from page 24
variety preference could be an issue,” Ramsey said. One of concerns farmers will face in 2013 will be controlling weeds, especially waterhemp in soybeans. “The problem we’re having in soybean production is if we don’t go back to a pre-emerge chemistry, we’re going to fight this water hemp problem all summer and spring,” Ramsey said. Because Round-Up worked so well for many years, companies quit spending money on research and development for other chemicals.
However, he said farmers can control the weed, but it will cost more than it has in past years. “I think we’re really faced with the time soybean production cost is going to go up somewhere in the $20 to $30 an acre range,” he said. “We’ve had good luck where we spent the extra money to put down a pre-emerge, and then we come back 21 to 28 days from planting and we sprayed that field again.” Other factors that may affect 2013 crops are a variety of bugs, including Japanese beetles, which have gotten steadily worse in the area, according to
Farmers hope 2013 is a bumper crop year for corn and soybeans. However, lack of rainfall in the fall of 2012 has some worried.
Crook. Although no one can predict the outcome for 2013, farmers are ever optimistic. “Hopefully we get water, timely rains and
we’ll have a bumper crop next year and try to offset this one,” Barringhaus said. “It’s been a while since we’ve had one.” Contact Marcia Gorrell at firstname.lastname@example.org
Nationally known speaker Temple Grandin will be in Marshall By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Every year, the annual Women in Agriculture Regional Conference at the Martin Community Center in Marshall gets better than the previous year. But this year, the 10th annual conference promises to be the best yet. Set for March 15, 2013, attendees will be given the red-carpet treatment, and treated like all-stars, according to organizers. The conference also boasts nationally known speakers including Temple Grandin, who was the subject of an award-winning HBO movie staring Clare Danes. A nationally known writer and animal scientist, Grandin, who is autistic, was listed in the Time 100 list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in the "Heroes" category. Her books include “Animals in Translation,” “Unwritten Rules of Social Relationships”and “Different Not Less”. The impressive list of speakers is already causing a buzz around the state. “I had somebody the other day at the (MU) football game say, ‘Is Temple Grandin really coming to Marshall?’” said Cynthia Crawford, University of Missouri extension specialist. “And yes, we’re not bringing her electronically. We’re bringing her here.”
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Women in Ag grows from humble beginnings By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Today, Saline County’s Women in Agriculture regional conference has a reputation as being one of the best — if not the best — conferences of its kind. However, in 2006, right after the third year, organizers wondered if they should continue for a fourth year. After two good years of moderate attendance, 2004 and 2005, there was a drop to about 25 people in 2006. “The weather was terrible. There was a lot of adversity that year,” remembered Cynthia Crawford, University of Missouri Extension special-
ist. “We stopped to evaluate whether we should continue, and thank goodness we did because I think this is recognized as the best in the Midwest now.” As they still do, organizers met shortly after the 2006 conference to work on the next year’s event. “I remember making the statement one day, that either we had to fix it or drop it,” said Everette Wood, former Saline County Farm Service Agency county executive director and one of the original planning committee members. “But I thought we ought to fix it. And that was the concensus of everybody on the plan-
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ning council.” For 2007, organizers moved the conference from Malta Bend School to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshall. And since that time, attendance has grown every year. Now held in March at the Martin Community Center, the conference has become nationally known, attracting more than 300 people each year. “Last year we had a third of Missouri counties represented,” Crawford said. “Plus we had people from two other states.” The 2013 event, a 10th anniversary celebration, is set for March 15 at the Martin Community Center.
Registration for the event opens Jan. 7, 2013, and attendance will cap at 500 people. (See page 26 of this issue for details) The idea to hold a women’s ag conference came from Becky Plattner, who was Saline County’s Presiding Commissioner at the time. “Becky Plattner kept bringing this up,” Crawford said. “We saw the success of the Concordia Women in Ag conference and realized that people in this part of the state and this region probably would be very supportive of a Women in Ag conference.” See WIA, page 30
Women Continued from page 26
Trent Loos, a nationally known agriculture and food educator, and star of the nationally syndicated radio show, Loos Tales, will also speak at the conference. Other speakers include Hugh Harvey, Saline County probate judge, who has been a conference favorite, because of his knowledge of farm estate planning; and humorous agriculture speaker Susie Oberdahlhoff, of Bowling Green, who is back by popular demand. The morning kicks off at 8 a.m. with registration and a light breakfast. At 9 a.m. Susie O’ will entertain the crowd, followed by Harvey at 10:15 a.m. and Loos at 11:10 a.m. Lunch this year will also be special, featuring prime rib. A brass band will also entertain during the lunch hour. Grandin will speak at 1:30 p.m. and the conference will wrap up at 3 p.m. Registration opens on Jan. 7 and because of the interest already shown, organizers are encouraging those interested to sign up early. “We think this conference will close long before the date. The sooner someone can register to Jan. 7, the better, because we anticipate maxing out at 500,” said Crawford. “A person
should not wait until closer to the date to register this year.” Registration is just $20 per person. “I think we’ve worked hard to try to keep the cost for participants as low as we possibly can,” said Jared Singer, Saline County FSA executive director and a member of the planning committee. “I think we would all agree we feel we are giving a great value with the level of speakers we are bringing to Marshall. We couldn’t do it without the generosity of our sponsors.” More information can be found at www.womeninag.net or on Facebook. File and contributed photos
The 2013 Women in Ag Regional Conference will be a 10th year celebration people will be talking about for years. Speakers include nationally known Temple Grandin and (below, right) Trent Loos, but two of the past popular speakers (above) Susie Oberdahlhoff and (bottom, left) Judge Hugh Harvey.
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WIA Continued from page 27
“Women are in the minority as ag managers and need to be well informed, just as all farming interests need to be informed,” Crawford added. Plattner, who is also still a member of the planning committee, said it was Crawford who was the catalyst for the event. “She said maybe we can look at this and she made a couple phone calls and the next thing I know she’s got a meeting pulled together.” The intention of the conference, then and now, has been to give information to women landowners, as well as anyone else interested. “Women are involved in all farms in one way or another,” Wood explained. “Some of them feel a little intimidated to go to some of the men’s meetings, but to have a meeting of their own that offers some of the issues is just a great opportunity.” However, men often attend and are more than welcomed, said Wood, who is now chief of the price support section for the state of Missouri for FSA in state office. “I think the way they approached it is a women in ag meeting, but the men are invited too, and I think a lot of times they’ve had men come to the meetings and seem to get a lot of information from it,” Wood said. By reading over evaluations after each event, organizers have been able to come up with timely speakers and topics. That is one reason attendance has continued to rise. “People get cutting edge, new critical information to
The Women in Agriculture conference spent a few years at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Marshall, before moving to the Martin Community Center. The next conference on March 15, 2013 is set to draw 500 people.
One of the first Women in Agriculture conferences was held at Malta Bend School.
make their farming operations more successful, so it’s not just an enjoyable day, although it is that,” Crawford said. “There is also a substance there that makes people drive for hundreds of miles.” Past sponsors represent a cross-section of Saline County agriculture including banks, insurance agencies, agri-business companies, the tourism comission, NRCS, FSA, University of Missouri extension and Lincoln University. The success of the conference has also been because the agencies have pooled their talents. “This is an example of something that any of our agencies alone could not do what all of us working together can do,” Crawford said. Many of those entities are also represented on the planning committee which currently includes: Plattner, Crawford, Jared Singer, Parman Green, Rebecca Malter, Brian McCarthy, Nadia Navarette-Tindall, Susan Pointer, Allen Voss and Steve Wooden. “I also think the individuals represented each have our own knack for different aspects of the conference,” Singer, current FSA county executive director, explained. “I think we’ve had a drive also to shoot for the stars, so to speak. We haven’t been afraid to go big. And I think we’ve had a drive to present a first-rate event for our participants.” Since it has been successful, other counties are also holding their own Women in Ag events. “If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it is inspirational to me that we have been able to inspire other places around the state to have similar events,” Crawford said. “When I look at the program I see they’ve looked at our agenda, and are bringing in the same kind of speakers and doing similar things.”
Local woman finds niche in life working on her family farm By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Lynn Holland Thompson and her sister, Lesa, grew up helping on their family’s farm north of Marshall. “When they were in high school they wanted to go to town and get a job because they wanted some money of their own,” explained their father, Larry Holland. “I said ‘No, the farrowing house is yours. You and Lesa just take care of the sows.’” From that moment on the girls took care of the pigs, with little or no help from himself or his wife, Beverly. “A lot of times we’d have a whole set of pigs go through the farrowing house, the whole string, and we’d never go down there,” he said. About 15 years ago, when her sons, Joe and Nick, See Thompson, page 35
Lynn Thompson spends most of her days taking care of a fall and spring calving cow herd on their farm north of Marshall. She has been farming full-time with her parents for about 15 years. Today one of her sons and a nephew work on the farm as well.
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Bartlett learns to do a variety of jobs on farm By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
It would be easy to assume Jane Bartlett loves farming. After all, for 39 years she has worked side by side with her husband, Charlie, working ground, applying chemicals and hauling their harvested crops to town. “I always tell people my heart’s not in farming,” she said. “I don’t love farming, I just happened to fall in love with a farmer.” She grew up on a farm near Miami, even helping some on the farm. Yet, she said, didn’t intend to marry a farmer. “I didn’t want to marry a farmer. I really, really didn’t,” she said, laughing. “We kept getting serious and he said, ‘You better making up your mind, because if you don’t I’m out of here.’” Now 47 years later, Bartlett is quick to point out they’ve had a good life. “I really can’t complain, you know,” she said. Each spring, Bartlett works the ground in front of the planter and then does field work in the fall. When they applied chemicals with the field cultivator, she did that as well. She also hauls anhydrous tanks, and used to help cultivate. Since 1982, she has driven the trucks each fall, taking their corn and soybeans to local elevators or their own bins. Bartlett said she has never learned to drive the combine. “That was probably my biggest mistake,” she said. “I should have learned how to run the combine.” However, she points out she has had the easy jobs, and Charlie has taken on more of the farm work, because she helps. “There are times I really wish Charlie had a hired hand,” she said. “I think it would have been easier on him, because he really doesn’t let me do a lot.” He takes care of the equipment maintenance, book work, as well as the combining, planting and putting on the anhydrous. They had been married about seven years, she said, before she really started helping on the farm. “I probably couldn’t have done what I did without a neighbor lady and that was Alberta Benedick,” Bartlett said. “She watched the kids for me.” For the first several years, she only helped with field work, but then started driving a truck during harvest in 1982. “That changed my life then, because before, I would do the fall work and I was home in the evenings and
About seven years into their marriage Jane Bartlett started helping her husband, Charlie, on their farm. For 39 years she has worked side-by-side running tractors and driving trucks.
stuff,” she said. She began driving a 10-wheeler, and eventually Charlie started talking about buying an 18-wheeler to haul grain. “I’d say, ‘If you get an 18-wheeler you need to get somebody to drive for you,” she said. However, in 1997 they did purchase one and he taught her to drive it when they were cleaning out bins. “He would drive it in and I would drive it back home,” she said. After a few days, she told him she was ready to drive it by herself. “He’s probably ridden with me twice since then,” she said. In fact, she said even after all these years, she still gets nervous with him riding in the farm equipment with her. “Whenever we get a new piece of equipment, he’ll go around the field with me and show me how it works,” she said. “I want him to be like Elvis. I want him to leave. I don’t want him to be anywhere close to me when I take over. So it’s kind of the thing now he’ll show me how to See Bartlett, page 33
Bartlett Continued from page 32
run it, and he’ll leave.” She said she often jokes with people, “The distance between our two tractors has saved our marriage.” They raised two children on the farm, Bruce, who is an attorney in St. Louis, and Stephanie Tobin, a kindergarten teacher in Marshall. “Bruce helped a little bit in the spring before he got in high school,” she said. “But we did not want Bruce to be deprived of sports to help us farm.” “He really helped us when he went to college,”
she said. “About May, he would be home and he really helped Charlie fill the planter.” He also helped during the time between graduating from MU with an engineering degree and entering law school. Stephanie helped by taking over cooking by the time she was in the fourth or fifth grade. “I would put something in the crockpot, like some kind of meat, and Stephanie would finish the meal out. Then supper would be ready every night when we got home,” Bartlett said. “When Stephanie left it was bad.”
Now Bartlett said she fixes their lunches and at night she and Charlie usually eat whatever they can find. “Charlie is very easy,” Bartlett said. “It doesn’t make him any difference. He never says what he wants and he never complains what he gets.” When Jane started, she said there weren’t many women helping on the farm. “Now it’s not unusual to see women helping,” she said. Besides farming, Bartlett has had other jobs, working at the shoe factory, helping at her family’s
business, Acme Supply, for a while and then several years helping a local insurance agent who worked around her farming schedule. Although she may not love farming, she said there are times of the year on the farm that are her favorites. “One of my all-time favorite stages of the corn is when you can row the corn,” she said. Her other favorite time is when “it gets about knee high and you see that anhydrous get ahold of it and it’s that blackish-green.” She enjoys seeing the See Bartlett, page 38
Holland works beside husband, building family farm By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Beverly Holland grew up on her family’s farm in the Miami river bottoms. In fact, she was just 9 years old when she first helped her father and uncle move equipment, driving between them in a 1948 Dodge pickup. “My dad was in a tractor in front of me and my uncle was in the tractor behind me,” she said. “I don’t know what that was supposed to help when you’re driving right along the edge of the river.” Nonetheless she made it. “I was real proud, but my mother wasn’t,” she laughed. After graduating from high school, she attended business school in Warrensburg for a year, before marrying her high school sweetheart, Larry Holland. They moved to his family’s Century Farm north of Marshall, where he has lived his entire life. Through the years, the couple worked together to build a family farm. There are very few jobs Beverly hasn’t helped with on the farm, with the excep-
tion of running the bulldozer and tiling machine. “I bought two new 4wheel drive tractors in 1980,” Larry said. One was run by their long-time employee, Herb Malan, while Beverly ran the other tractor. “They both had 7,000 hours on them, when we got rid of them, and I imagine Beverly put 6,500 of them on that one tractor,” he said. She not only did spring and fall field work, but also applied chemicals when they were put on behind the field cultivator. Until this year, she ran the grain cart during harvest, before finally giving up the job to her grandson, Andrew Weiss from Jackson. However, she still made sure everyone was fed through harvest, serving as “meals on wheels,” she laughed. Larry is also semiretired, giving up combining and planting to another grandson, Nick Thompson. Their daughter, Lynn Thompson, also works on the farm, taking care of a large cow herd and driving trucks during harvest. See Holland, page 38
Married shortly after high school, Beverly and Larry Holland have worked together building a family farm. The couple lives on the Holland Century Farm. Just recently they planted 150 pecan trees on a farm near Miami. They also planted a few in their backyard.
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Thompson Continued from page 31
were in 8th and 6th grade, Lynn had a babysitting business in Marshall. The children she had looked after since they were babies were heading off to first grade. At the same time, she knew her father was in the process of looking for new farm help. “I called him and said, ‘Have you hired anyone yet?’” she said. “She’s been back here full-time 15 years, but she helped all the time anyway,” Beverly added. Today, she still loves working full-time on their family row-crop and cattle farm. There is always
something to do. “I could go to town and work somewhere 6 to 3 if I
“I like getting up and putting my stocking cap on.” Lynn Thompson, family farmer had to, but I like getting up and putting my stocking cap on,” she said. “Anybody can do it, they just have to want to. Like everyday, you have to get up every morning and think who needs checked, what do we need to do next,?” Lynn added. They sold out of the hog business many years ago, but backgrounded
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heifers for several years. Lynn would climb up and down their feeders,
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while their long-time hired man, Herb Malan, drove the tractor. However, after Herb died from cancer, feeding the calves became too labor intensive to continue. “It would take two days a week, all day long, just to keep feed ground for the number of heifers,” Lynn said. She would drive a 10-
wheeler to Macon every 10 days to pick-up 10-12 tons of distillers to use for the protein. “We started transitioning into cows and that was something I could do myself and not have help,” Lynn said. They are now building up the herd to include heifers they have raised themselves, including a three-year-old and fouryear old herd. They now have spring calving and fall calving cows. They raise mostly Angus and Angus cross cows, but are beginning to add Gelbvieh and Balancer See Thompson, page 36
Thompson Continued from page 35
cows. “We just start using those bulls and will have our first calves from them this spring,” she said. Lynn takes pride in seeing the cow herd they have built. “I look at some of them, the markings on them and I remember when they were born,” she said. “It’s just kind of cool to know, the last two years we’ve gotten to where we want to be.” Her son, Nick Thompson, and nephew, Andrew Weiss, also work on the farm.
“Everybody’s on call for everybody else. We take turns feeding. The three of us all work together,” she said. “They keep track of me.” Since Lynn’s parents are now semi-retired, Nick is taking care of the rowcrops and ran the combine during harvest this year. Lynn drove the semitrucks, as she has for many years, while Andrew took over driving the grain cart. During harvest, Larry and neighbor Mike Deibel, who has helped for many years, went from farm to farm, cleaning up fencerows and filling in ditches with bulldozers.
Last spring the family started a new project, planting 150 pecan trees on some of their land near Miami. The grafted trees were about 8-feet-tall. They will be planting 250 more this spring. Planting the trees, which already had a few pecans this year, will be another way to diversify their farm. They know some pecan growers from across the river, and when they have enough will start discussing selling the pecans on shares. Lynn said she plans on continuing to farm, “until I fall over.”
“I hope I’m doing a decent job,” she said. “I’m doing it to the best of my knowledge.” When she has spare time, she participates in barrel races, something she has done for about 20 years. “A friend of mine and I travel together,” she said. She also enjoys riding her horse through the cows behind her house near Miami. Nick and his wife, Elizabeth, have one son, Axel, 2 ½, who likes to come help on the farm. Lynn’s other son, Joe, has his own business in Marshall.
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soybeans, too, when they first pop up in rows. Although there are times she has a fantasy that the first load of crops she takes to town is her last, fall makes her sad. “It’s like the end of the season, it’s like another phase of your life’s gone by,” she said. However, she does enjoy winter, especially since they no longer have livestock. “You don’t have to fret about rain, snow or sleet,” she said.
Although there are times she thinks an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job might have been easier, she plans to keep helping Charlie — who does love farming — until he’s ready to retire. “Everybody tells me you can just quit him,” she said. “Well, how can I quit him? Besides, what are we going to do?” Bruce and his wife, Heather, live in Wildwood and have two daughters, Reese and Brooke. Stephanie and her husband, Lance Tobin, live in Marshall with their two daughters, Emily and Jani.
Holland Continued from page 34
Beverly said farming has been a way of life for them. “It may not be the most profitable way, but it’s the only way to raise a family,” she said. “Its’ a good way to teach your family responsibilities. Everybody learns to do their part. “ She still takes care of the farm books and worked outside of the home parttime during the 1980s selling real estate. With everyone in the field, she said she kept the farm crew fed, as everybody took their lunches. Since Lynn has helped them fulltime for 15 years, they often work together to get the crew fed.
“None of us are picky. Mom’s real good about just throwing something together,” Lynn said. Beverly said she would tell a young farm wife to remember the farm is a partnership. “You need to know what’s going on,” she said, adding, “You need to roll with the punches, some years are good, a lot of years are not.” The couple’s other daughter, Lesa Weiss, lives with her husband in Jackson. They have three grandsons, two granddaughters and one great-grandson, Axel Thompson. One of their granddaughters is expecting their first greatgranddaughter later this month.
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Marshall FFA rises above others in 2012 By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
To say 2012 was a great year for the Marshall High School FFA chapter would be an understatement. After all, in April they won Missouri’s top Chapter Activity award at the State FFA Convention in Columbia. A few months later they found out they were one of the nation’s top 10 chapters, as a finalist in the Model of Excellence award. On Thursday, Oct. 25, chapter president Abrea Mizer and senior Cale Boedeker stood on stage at the National FFA Convention at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to accept the award as one of the top 10 out of 7,500 chapters. Although another school was announced as the national winner, it didn’t take away from all Marshall had accomplished in 2012. Their journey began at Missouri FFA Convention on April 19. President Abrea Mizer had just returned to the convention hall after finishing her CDE contest
The Marshall FFA Chapter rose to the top in 2012, first being named Missouriʼs top chapter and then being selected as a top 10 National FFA Model of Excellence winner. They were also presented the 3-star chapter award. About 17 members were in Indianapolis in October to receive the awards.
when the state winners were announced on stage. “Everyone started cheering and screaming and crying,” she said of the 30 or so Marshall members present. “It was one of those moments you dream of, and it happened,” she said. “I don’t want that to get overshadowed, I really want to
be able to take that in. It’s a big year for us.” But in August, just as school was beginning, the accomplishment took on new meaning when Marshall found out they were named as a finalist for the national FFA Model of Excellence Award. Their state application was used as the basis for the national
award. Both awards are based on the chapter’s activities. In order to compete for the national award, Mizer, Boedeker and junior Kayla Elson spent many hours preparing a 10-minute PowerPoint for judges highlighting nine of the chapSee FFA, page 40
FFA Continued from page 39
ter’s activities, three each in the areas of Chapter, Student and Community development. At the national convention they presented the PowerPoint, and answered about 10 minutes worth of questions. The activities they highlighted include a walk across Missouri, in which chapter members walked on the MHS track, the equivalent miles of walking between Kansas City and St. Louis. Their community activities included several for area veterans, including a breakfast and assembly. They also sponsored a “Kiss a Pig” contest to raise money for the Veteran Honor Flight. Four teachers were put up for the award, and the one earning the most money had the honor of kissing a pig. The chapter also collected items and packed care boxes to be sent to the National Guard agriculture unit in Afghanistan. Chapter activities included forming membership cooperatives. “We divided all our members into six teams and the teams were led by officers so that way the officers had specific people they kept in touch with to inform them of FFA events,” Boedeker explained. “If they ever needed somebody to talk to, their leader was always there.” Although they will never know exactly how they placed in the national award, the presenters were pleased with their efforts. “The presentation went very well,” Mizer said. “I really
Fitness for all (above, right) and Boxes for soldiers are just two of the many activities Marshall FFA members take part in each school year.
couldn’t have asked for more. We answered questions really well.” They hope the chapter’s recognition this year will be a platform to keep adding accomplishments. “It’s another thing we can say we accomplished, but there are still places to go and things that we have to get done and things that have to improve,” Mizer said. Although they will both graduate this year, Mizer and Boedeker said the new members are ready to keep building. “I think they have more pride starting off and that’s going to keep the ball rolling for the chapter,” Mizer said. “I anticipate the future to be really good.” Since returning back from the National Convention,
members haven’t been resting on their laurels. Just after returning they jumped into Veterans Day activities and the Greenhand initiation. “We’re always busy,” Mizer said. “There is no down time for sure. We’ve been busy the entire time we got back from convention.” Although the officers, and advisors Callie Dobbins, Jason Price and Randy Plattner, keep busy, it is an entire chapter effort. “Everyone gets involved and I think that’s what makes us one of the top chapters, because we have such a great involvement of our members,” Mizer said. Although the awards serve as motivation, Mizer said the most important part of being in FFA is developing skills and giving back to the community. “The awards are nice, but that’s really what it’s about and that’s one thing I hope the members see,” Mizer said.
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Miles spends lifetime on farm By MARCIA GORRELL STAFF WRITER
Dale Miles, 78, grew up working on his family’s farm just south of Marshall and attending a one-room school. After graduating from eighth grade with just four other classmates, his first year at Marshall High School (in the building that is now Bueker Middle School) was a bit of a culture shock. “It took me three days to figure out that the numbers 100, 200 and 300 meant what floors the classes were on,” he laughed. He soon got involved in FFA, which turned out to be a “Godsend.” “I didn’t know it at the time, but I had a great instructor,” he said. Morton Craig was only there for five years before he left to take a job in a different industry. “He challenged me to do some different things and argued with me on what was right and wrong,” he said. “I guess that’s where I got my ability to shoot off to some different things and try different things.” Miles became an FFA state officer and got his American Farmer Degree in 1954. “There is no better leadership program than FFA,” he said. After graduating high school in 1952, Miles, now 78, began farming with his father, Richard. At the time, his father still planted their crops with teams and a two-row planter. Soon after he started, they purchased an F20 tractor, using it to disk and do other field work. Eventually they purchased an 8N Ford tractor and mounted a two-row planter onto it, which his father ran for several years. “Then we got a four-row planter and he was not happy with that deci-
Dale Miles grew up on his familyʼs farm south of Marshall. Although now retired, he still occasionally helps his son, Brian, who has taken over the business.
sion,” Miles said. Eventually, though, he said his father liked the updated equipment. When Dale got drafted into military service in 1956, his father purchased a larger tractor. “He bought a 400 International, so it would be easier for him to keep the land going for two years,” he said, adding his father was a hard worker. The cost of starting to farm was much lower than it is now, and Miles said his father helped him. “The boss was very good to me,” he said. Their biggest difference was Dale’s willingness to take more risks in farming. “The depression left him very reluctant to take any chances and I can understand that,” Miles said. “I was more of a gambler. I’m sure he lost a lot of sleep over that at times.” Most of those decisions paid off until the 1980s, when the farm economy took a downturn. “Then I made some wrong moves and made us sweat some,” he said. “By that time he had turned it over to
me pretty well.” Miles raised hogs for many years, first outside, and then in confinement until quitting altogether a few years ago. “Hogs were a challenge, but I always liked them,” he said. “They were good to me.” When he first started farming, they farrowed their sows west of the house, carrying feed to them by hand. However, the coyotes figured out how to team up on the sows and draw her away to snatch a baby pig. That made the sows naturally mean. “Sometimes you had to run like the devil to get away from them, because they thought you were going to do something with the pigs,” he said. “We had to quit farrowing out for that reason, the coyotes were taking a bunch of our pigs.” Eventually they were farrowing 150 sows in buildings which they built through the years. As the hog business changed in the 1990s, they became part owners of a sow farrowing complex in Lafayette See Miles, page 43
Miles Continued from page 42
County. They would get early weaned pigs to raise in their buildings. Besides the hogs and row crops, through the years they also raised cows, and fed 30-50 out a year on an adjacent farm. Richard, who lived until he was 96-years-old, worked with his son for many years, before gradually getting out of the partnership. Later, Miles and his neighbor, Wayne Buck, farmed together for several years. “(Wayne) did the planting and my dad was kind of the gopher, like I am now,” Miles said. It was just after he came home from service, 1958, when Miles had met his future wife. “My aunt introduced me to Grace and we had our first date on the 10th day of November, got engaged Christmas and married in April,” he said. “I knew when I found a jewel. She was the one for me.” He and Grace, the long time Saline County collector, have been married for almost 54 years. They raised three children on the farm, two daughters, Connie (Kiburz), Annette (Bishop), and a son, Brian. They have five grandsons and three granddaughters. In the 1990s, Brian came back to the farm after graduating with honors from the University of Missouri. “Nowadays I wonder if a person can farm without going to college,” Miles said, noting how computers and GPS have changed the business. When Brian joined the farm, they rented more land. “I was backing out and he was going strong and getting more ground,” he said. Just like when he joined the farm 40 years before, there was an adjustment period. “We’re both hard-headed, but it’s worked out well,”
Dale Miles (center) has been a long-time member of the Farm Service Agency County Committee, which helps oversee USDA programs for farmers.
Miles said. “We are very proud of him.” About three years ago, they got out of the pig business altogether. “I’m glad Brian got out of it,” he said. “We lost a lot of money in the last few years. Brian didn’t like the livestock and that’s fine. He is very, very good at row crop.” Now officially retired, Miles still helps run errands, even taking over the combine driving for a few hours, if needed. Computerized equipment and cost are two of the biggest changes in farming. “The biggest change is the acres it takes to make a living and the expense of putting in a crop.” Although running the farm took a lot of time, Miles still found time for many other activities in the community. Those included sports, playing basketball in winter and softball in the summer. He was also a long-time member of the Marshall school board, Saline County Fair board and Pork Producers. They belong to First Christian Church, where he has served as an elder, a deacon, and member of the board. He has been on the Farm Service Agency County Committee for six years and currently serves as chairman. He was also on the Federal Land Bank for several years.
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