Written by Eric Winters
One of the great things about being involved in agriculture is the involvement of family. As an agronomist, I have been afforded the opportunity to meet and be involved with many family farm operations. Rarely are these operations run by one person, many times it is the value of family that leads to success. And, many farmers will tell you there is no greater perk than to be able to work side by side with your dad, brother, wife, child, etc.
A unique component of agriculture is the opportunity to never stop learning. Whether you are five, or ninety-five, agriculture is never static; there is always something to learn. Any of us that have grown up around agriculture can recollect our own stories of learning on the farm from a young age. This combination of family and learning was made most apparent to me this past crop season as seen through the eyes of my two-year-old son Kendrick.
Kendrick isn’t our oldest child, but is our oldest son, and he’s definitely a boy’s boy. Seeing how he was entering the toddler stage this spring my wife gave the blessing for him to spend more time with the “guys” outside more instead of being under mom’s watch whenever he is at the farm. As time carried on throughout the season, it was an odd sense of flashback for me. I had the opportunity to begin to teach my son the value of agriculture and also watch and observe the excitement and curiosity I had myself a generation earlier. Kendrick was always ready, all season long and wanted to be where the action was. My mother stated several times how it was almost scary how his actions mirrored mine of 30 years prior. Some might have seen this as hindrance to getting work done, but I kept thinking back to all the years I would tag along and probably got in the way more than once. Nevertheless, dad and grandpa always made me feel welcomed and my father and I made sure Kendrick was treated the same way.
Kendrick is definitely a ‘grandpa’s boy’, hanging on my dad’s leg at every opportunity just like I did with my late grandfather. Although he’s not yet a fluent talker, he’s quick to point out equipment and ask “what dat?”. My dad would many times grin and say, “now where did I hear that before?” The season long fun culminated this fall with him spending a considerable amount of time with me in our combine during the corn harvest. It was frightening; he even likes kneeling backwards on the buddy seat watching the grain tank fill up! That was EXACTLY like me! (Ok not exactly, I didn’t have the luxury of a buddy seat back then).
I have many joys in my life, but when I have to opportunity to blend agriculture with my family, it’s always a win-win situation. The fun of watching kids grow up in an agricultural community is undoubtedly one of the best perks of this line of work, both as an observer and participant. And one can’t help but wonder once in a while, what generation of eyes am I looking through?
Eric works as a C.C.A. certified seed and agronomy input agronomist at our Fulda, MN location. Prior to AFS he worked for a local cooperative for 7 years. Together, Eric and his wife Sarah have three children; Aubrey 5, Kendrick 2, and Oliver, 5 months and live on a farm just outside of Heron Lake, Minnesota.