I really enjoy days when I can sit down to talk to a farmer about his farm. The fact that the history of family and land are so intertwined, rose to the top of my awareness several years ago. It was exactly what happened recently when I sat down with Mike Haley of Haley Farms in West Salem, OH.
There is a quiet pride that I sense in talking to farmers including Mike, but I think that pride is frequently more placed on those who came before or the potential the future holds than what they are doing today. Appreciation was clear as Mike started our video visit off with his being the fifth generation on this farm. And if that wasn’t enough, he reflects on the fact that there were others in the area before that who share cropped to get the capital needed to buy their own land. The history continues to build – Mike & his brother were the third generation working to finish harvest this year.
See, Mike farms with his dad Steve and brother Brad. And his granddad Don, while retired somewhat, really enjoys getting his hands dirty or getting behind the wheel of a combine or a tractor for a while. Younger guys like Mike can run the trucks, work grain bins, etc.
Growing several crops – corn, soybeans, wheat and a little bit of hay – tends to keep the family busy. Although the family had raised steers, adding a cow-calf operation is relatively new and came as Mike and Pam got married.
I met Mike and Pam at the North American International Livestock Expo in Louisville (my personal blog on NAILE and one I wrote for the National Cattleman’s Beef Association). And while they both said it was sort of a hobby, I tend to think of it as a second job! The four head of cattle that came as a wedding gift have become 30 now. Cattle require lots of daily chores, from moving from one pasture to another, to keeping water available, etc. If all of that wasn’t enough, they have active programs for breeding and showing the Simmental cattle they raise!
If all of that wasn’t enough to keep the Haley’s busy, I should point out that Pam works a full-time job and is a volunteer leader in the Ohio Farm Bureau. With all of those things, it may suddenly make the full-time farming gig sound easy for Mike. But he’s not taking it easy at all. He has also taken on active advocacy for his farm online and is encouraging other farmers to do the same. But that’s a whole other story and deserves a post of its own, especially since it is how I came to know the pair! So I’ll write it up next.
For now, I want to close with a note about how history is routine for Haley Farms. In the time since I shot the accompanying video, history has definitely happened and been celebrated a couple of ways. Granddad turned 90. It wasn’t but a few days later that he was in the combine as 2009 fall harvest finally wrapped up – it was weeks later than normal due to tough weather conditions.
Already a historic fall so what is there to look forward to? How about a great wheat crop, perfect planting weather and a healthy herd of calves? Oh, and I’ll have to tell you that whether or not things go perfectly, I bet the Haleys find a way to get through it with a smile and tip of their hats to others and an eye on the future.
You can reach Mike Haley on Twitter.