Written as a tribute to my son, Evan.
Graduation is a bitter sweet time for a mother. There is so much to hope for and so much to celebrate. But often, the next phase of life brings separation from what was in the past. It is with such a joyful heart that I get to celebrate Evan’s graduation knowing that he is staying on to manage at This Old Farm.
The farm was purchased in 2000. Evan was born in 2001. I like to think they learned to walk together. They certainly grew up together. Farming was not a vocation then but rather a way of life. I inherently knew that the hard work required to care for the Earth would also care for the growth of a fine young man. Evan was here when 4 sheep came to This Old Farm to start our flock of what is now over 200. He was here when we pulled our first chicken tractor onto the green grass. He spent his days before he even started school learning to collect and wash eggs. And he was here when we ran pastured pork through the woodlots. He still thinks fondly of the hogs he happily took any household leftovers and the buckets of extra milk we had from the cows we milked. Evan grew strong from the farm work.
So strong that he embraced being the youngest member of the processing team when the business expanded taking on meat processing in 2009. After he finished his studies he would join the packaging crew. His uniform was midget sized at the time. His frock and apron scraped the ground. New inspectors would do a double take at the boy running the vacuum packer that could barely see over the top of the machine. His extended “family” are those that have spent time working next to him. His other mother, Kendra, kept his first secrets. His “big brothers” taught him the ways of the world. The stories were often not fit for the ears of the then ten year old boy. Yet he grew to be someone that those around him respect.
This last year as he finished his senior year, he took on his first supervision roll. He took on the challenge of learning to supervise when the individuals being supervised were more than twice his age. I have often felt the need to tell new employees that while he may look young, he does know what needs done. I no longer feel this is needed as he has learned to carry himself in a way that brings natural respect from those around him. They aren’t frustrated by the typical boss’s son but rather look to him to step in when there is a need.
It is with awe and admiration that I look to bring in the second generation to our ag business. The decision to not push him into college was a difficult one. Can the business offer him what he could grow into elsewhere? Is agriculture a worthwhile endeavor? Yes, the very thing that I had spoken on for years was in question when it was my son. I came to understand why generations have pushed their children off the farm. People value doctors and engineers, not farmers and butchers. But how could I continue working in the industry if I couldn’t believe that people could value farming, the butchery trade, and the many ag centered jobs offered in Rural America. Not only do I have to believe that there is a place here for Evan but I have to believe there is a place for Evan’s children. Someday, I will look back and know it was the faith I had in my son, Evan, that brought generations back to the family farm, our family farm at This Old Farm.
Welcome to the next phase of your life, Evan. It will be good! I am so proud and thankful that I get to watch you grow to take care of the farming community that has raised you into the young man you have become. Many thanks to all that have directly and indirectly supported Evan seeing him grow into the fine young man he is today!
Come on in and watch Evan cut through our viewing window!