Written by Billie Ingalls
I never really intended to have a career in agriculture; in all honesty, it just kind of happened.
I never grew up on a farm, but quite the opposite. I grew up being surrounded by trees and on a lake just a stones throw away. We have chickens and my father plants soybeans for the deer but the closest thing I had to a tractor was a little John Deere lawn mower. I attended the occasional dairy breakfasts and the 4-H booth at the fair, but never truly experienced what it meant to farm – until now.
I made my first trip to Iowa in April where I was astonished how far my eyes could see across the flat land. Soon after my first few visits, the crop started to sprout from the ground and I couldn’t tell you what a soybean field was from a corn field. I didn’t know what a heifer was from a cow, or a combine from a haybine. I was oblivious to farming.
At the time I was living in a city surrounded by lights and constant noise in a tiny studio apartment. I’ve never been a city girl, considering I grew up in a small rural town, yet here I was. I watched my co-workers chow on their organic non-GMO vegan kale salads (that’s not a joke either), and didn’t understand why they were so scared of real food. What was wrong with a big juicy steak and corn-on-the-cob? When I realized, they were just as clueless as I was when it came to agriculture.
I needed a change, so I decided to pack up my things and leave the city. As I was in the process of moving, I didn’t quite have a job yet, when unexpectedly 2 weeks before I was supposed to move, a position opened up within my expertise at Asmus Farm Supply. So I leapt head first into a new job and surroundings that I was still so unfamiliar with.
Within just a few months, my understanding of agriculture and farming had vastly changed. I was in awe the amount of science, passion, hard work, and knowledge one has to know to be in this industry.
These men and women are up before the sun rises and don’t get home until the sun has been set for hours. To watch the tractors and equipment roll slowly across the fields all day to protect their crop from disease, bugs and bad weather takes high amounts of patience and attention. They care for each seed from when it is planted in the ground until harvest is over. They’re in the barn in the middle of the night helping a cow birth her calf making sure they’re protected and healthy.
This isn’t a career for the faint of heart. For these farmers, it is their life, not just a job. A majority of them are multigenerational family farms passed on through the years. A farmer is more than just a farmer; they’re also mechanics, meteorologists, scientists, machine operators, financial planners, agronomists and animal caretakers. I can say that it is an honor to experience and be a part of the back bone of what keeps America fed and running.
To date, I’ve driven a tractor, fed and weaned cattle, drove a haybine and cut the alfalfa field and even bought my first pair of cowgirl boots. I never intended to end up here, but I think I ended up where I needed to be.
Billie graduated from Bethel University in 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication & Marketing studies. She grew up in rural northwest Wisconsin surrounded by more trees than cornfields but enjoys the new view. During her senior year of college, she took a special interests test resulting in being told she would be a great fit in the agriculture industry. Ignoring it, she moved to the city instead and pursued a job in radio sales. After a few months, she realized it wasn’t for her and found her passion in agriculture. Billie joined the Asmus Farm Supply team in the Spring of 2016 and enjoys spending her free time reading, being outdoors and learning more about how she can help the farming community.