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M&K Henderson Family Farm

THOUGHTS WHILE IN A TRACTOR 

An ongoing series of entries by a Midwestern farmer.

EDUCATION COUNTS

February 14, 2020

I will always remember when I was at Purdue, so many people asked why I needed to go to college to be a farmer. They would say, "You don't need college to learn to plow!" I am so glad my parents encouraged me to go to school and it changed my life.

Without my Purdue education, our farm would have struggled mightily through some very challenging times. Grain farming today is a combination of science, economics, husbandry, business, mechanical, technology, people, passion and the all-important variable -weather. It's not enough to just "wing it" in any business.

My kids never thought twice about enrolling in college and I am proud that they made the commitment to further their education. No one can ever take away what anyone learns. I am always eager to hear what new things they have learned and how we can improve our farm.

I went back to school to work on my master's degree. It's a different feeling to be at school at a more mature age, but it is also very enlightening and it has changed the way I manage the farm and how I live my life.

Taking classes while also having experienced "life's lessons" brings a whole new meaning to education. College isn't always for everyone but education should never stop in anyone's life.

- Monty Henderson

FARMERS ARE ENTREPRENEURS 

January 15, 2020

In today’s modern era, there is more confusion than ever as to who a farmer is and what a farmer does. According to Wikipedia, “A farm is an area of land that is devoted primarily to agricultural processes or an area of water that is devoted primarily to aquacultural processes in order to produce and manage such commodities as fibers, grains, livestock, dairy or fuel. It is the basic production facility in food production”

In addition Wikipedia states that “A farm may be owned and operated by a single individual, family, community, corporation or a company, may produce one or many types of produce and can be a holding of any size from a fraction of an acre to several thousand acres.”

Some people feel that a farm is somewhat of a big garden, where the farmer produces more than he or she can consume for their own family – and then they sell the excess. Historically, that is what the majority of people did in the early development of civilization. They produced what they were good at and traded their excess for the things they needed. In the early 1800’s, people migrated to Indiana to start farms, including my forefathers. Business and trade to support them followed. They traded their products for things they needed – even then. That was their profession, their business.

Forward to today, where there are about two million farms to feed a population of 320 million US citizens. We are so productive that we ship a tremendous amount of food to other people in other countries as well. Modern farmers do what our forefathers did. We grow what we grow best and exchange our products for money to buy the things we need for our family. We’re not any different than any other entrepreneur. The pizza shop owners sell pizza to earn money to buy televisions. The computer programmers sell their services to buy food. Painters paint houses and factories make cars. Businesses hire people to help them do the tasks required. Very few people today have the time, talent, effort and energy to live sustainably from their own personal food supply. Not even farmers. This is true for everyone who calls themselves a farmer, regardless of the product they are growing.

Yes, many will say that farming is a lifestyle, but so is the occupation of everyone entrepreneurial and in fact all human beings. We all differ in our technical skills, yet in one sense, we are all the same. We do what we do best and trade for what we need.

- Monty Henderson

THE MODERN FARMER

January 15, 2020

Modern farms don't always look like the romantic notions of yester-year. Gone are the days of the small 80 acre farms with multiple crops, cows, pigs and chickens. Today, we utilize equipment filled with electronics. New technology makes us more proficient and more environmentally friendly. We tend to specialize in what we produce instead of growing numerous different crops, but we do still rotate, have best practices, and explore new ideas on a constant basis. While we use large equipment and trucks instead of horses, the work is still hard and we have shovels and pitch forks at the ready.

I prefer a polo shirt instead of the bib over-alls grandpa wore. Straw hats aren't in vogue today. We're still friendly people that care about our neighbors, will provide some assistance when you need it, wave as you pass us on the road and shake your hand on a deal. "Plowing" is a misnomer and it is something we rarely do any more because it is not a good conservation practice. In fact, today's farms are very sensitive to the environment. We work long and hard with Mother Nature in the production of safe and wholesome goods. We are proud of that. What you mainly see farmers doing as you pass by on the road is the operation of our large equipment, but there is much more going on than just tractor driving. Behind the scenes, we comply with a long stream of government regulations and pay our fair share of taxes. There are many hours spent behind the desk. We provide jobs and invest in our community. Agriculture is a labor intensive, high risk, volume based business that requires a lot of capital and good management. That really has never changed.

So while it may look different than what you imagine, or what you can see while driving by, a modern farm is instilled with the passion and pride that our predecessors had. We care about the crops we grow and the land that we work. We are real farmers, real people, real entrepreneurs, who have invested our lives into producing quality feed, seed and food.

- Monty Henderson

Harvest

Harvest is our favorite time, when we get to reap the work of the twelve months prior.  It's also when we require the most people to make everything run smoothly and efficiently.  We love to quote Max when we find that "last row we've been looking for" to complete the season.

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