• Holly Spangler

    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Hinderliters

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 30, 2011

    To tell the story of how I know this family would be rather lengthy, so I'll get to the point: they are my family! My brother and his wife, Doug and Katie Hinderliter, farm just south of Albion with my folks, Wayne and Susan Hinderliter. After college, Doug spent a few years working on various cattle operations before returning home to raise corn, beans, wheat, hay and cattle with my Dad. He and Katie – a farm girl herself, from the northern end of the county – married last…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Currys

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 29, 2011

    I think of two things when I think of Josh and Jody Curry. First, that they are hilarious. And second, that they are the epitome of a true family farm. Josh and Jody farm with his dad, brother, uncle and cousin in Henry County, near Alpha. They raise corn, soybeans, wheat and hay, and they also operate a farrow-to-finish hog operation and run a small herd of Shorthorn cattle. We first got to know the Currys through the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader program, back when Josh and my…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Ropps

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 28, 2011

    When I first met Becky Ropp, I was but a wee freshman in college. Becky was a senior, an ag communications major, president of 4-H House, well-liked, well-respected and pretty much everything you'd want in a person you'd look up to. Over the years, our lives have intersected in various and interesting ways, not the least of which include my marrying a young man from her hometown, whom she'd gone to school with since kindergarten. And somewhere during my college career, I held an internship…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Halpins

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 27, 2011

    This is beginning to sound repetitive, but it's true: we met Scott and Sarah Halpin when we were all on the Young Leader committee together! I'm sorry; I hope you're not sick of hearing that. If nothing else, take it as evidence that this committee gig is a great place to meet some wonderful people and make friends for life. (By the way, I occasionally hear from groups of farm families of various age groups who met either through this committee or through the Jaycees young farmer program of…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Bremmers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 26, 2011

    It was six kids ago when we first met Chad and Deb Bremmer. We were young grain and beef farmers in western Illinois; they were young grain and dairy farmers from northern Illinois. We met through the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader committee and became fast friends. The Bremmers, in short, are just good people. And over the years, they've become parents to Ben, 7, Ethan, 4, and Eli, 2. They raise corn, beans, wheat and alfalfa on 1800 acres in Stephenson County, near Pearl City…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: Sean Arians

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 25, 2011

    If you take a look at the title of today's blog and glance at the picture below, you'll notice it varies somewhat from the past 24 days. I wanted to feature Sean Arians for several reasons: first, because he farms and works off the farm – like a whole lot of young farmers in this state. Second, because he's a single guy – like a whole lot of young farmers in this state. And third, because he's chair of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader committee – which means he's…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The O'Briens

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 24, 2011

    Much like the Elmores, I didn’t get to know David O'Brien very well until he and his wife, Jennifer, joined the Cultivating Master Farmers Class of 2011. Then we became Facebook friends, and he generally cracks me up. Also, he's clearly a fan of The Sandlot, which means we're automatically real-life friends. You're killin' me, Smalls. David and Jennifer are parents to four small people, Katie, 6; twins John and Maggie, 3; and Julia, 1. Their lives feel a lot like ours, with dolls…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Elmores

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 23, 2011

    I first came to know Curt Elmore in the open cattle barns at the Illinois State Fair. For years, our families' Shorthorn strings were tied across from each other in one of the old brick buildings. I can remember his dad, Joe, watching me fight to stay awake one afternoon – when I was supposed to be watching our cattle – and coming over to tell me to go take a nap, that he'd watch the cattle. So very nice. Especially since we'd probably been up since 4 a.m. or something equally…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Buhrows

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 22, 2011

    I hardly know where to start with Allyn and Amy Buhrow. I met Allyn in college and I think Amy and I were separated at birth. The end. Oh wait! There's more. There's actually a lot more. Back in college, Allyn and I were in a campus-wide student organization, two of a very small handful of ag students among many non-ag students, and we would typically share rides to meetings and exchange wry observations such as, "these people couldn't organize their way out of a shoebox." (Speaking…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Smiths

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 21, 2011

    Every year at the Illinois Farm Bureau annual meeting, the Young Leaders host a suite and on just about any evening of the meeting, it's a hopping good time. And if you get there on the right night at the right time, it's packed wall-to-wall with the best and the brightest in young Illinois agriculture. It's a good time. And let me just say that over the years, this scene has provided more honest-to-goodness column fodder than anyplace else. Jokes are told. Stories are shared. Rumor has it…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Jones Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 20, 2011

    It's "Farming with Your In-Laws Weekend," here at 30 Days of Farms & Families! Yesterday? Troy and Kim Purvis. Today? Christopher and Karen Jones, who farm with Karen's parents, Alan and Susan Haas, grandparents Bob and Doris Haas, and brother Jason Haas, in the greater Roanoke area. I joke, but only because the path to farming so typically follows the father-to-son route. Over and over again we see that pattern. Though theirs may be the road less travelled, kudos to these families…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Purvis Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 19, 2011

    Troy Purvis and my husband go way back, all the way to college where they lived together at Nabor House, an ag fraternity at the University of Illinois. Back then, they were "Purv" and "Spang" (and wow, they were creative with the nicknames, right?) Actually, they still call each other that. I've even been casually known as Mrs. Spang, but that's another story. And isn't the world of college nicknames a strange little place? After our college pal, "Woodsy," came back to our small town and…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Liefers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 18, 2011

    I don't know that I've met Kirk and Stephanie Liefer in real life, and yet I feel like I know them. That's the beauty of mutual friends and of shared experiences, I suppose. Their walk has been like our walk. They've served on the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leader committee and just this year, they won the Young Leader Achievement Award – pretty much the pinnacle of success for a young farmer in Illinois, and they are most deserving of it. And their kids are about the same ages as our…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Andras Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 17, 2011

    I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a family whose roots run deeper in Illinois agriculture than the Andras family. Maybe the Defenbaughs. It's a little hard to say. Regardless, the Andras ancestors settled in the 1830s in an area of west-central Illinois known as Burnt Haystacks Springs, named for the stacks of hay that settlers would leave each season for the new settlers to use through the winter, as the previous group headed on west. The local Indians tended to express their feelings…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Buntings

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 16, 2011

    I can hardly remember a time when I haven't known Tasha Bunting. Except that back then, she was Tasha Jordan and she was the cute, hard-working little girl we showed Shorthorns with. Tasha comes from a prominent Illinois Shorthorn cattle family and growing up, we ran into her family at every state fair, preview show and random sale around the state. Back in the day, her dad even wrote scholarship recommendation letters for me. (Hi Denny!) By the time she was a college student, Tasha was on the…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Strodes

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 15, 2011

    Pardon my geezer moment, but honestly, it seems a little unfathomable to me that Wes Strode is grown up and is farming and is a parent. I suppose, however, that's the way it is when you get to know someone as the little brother of your best girlfriend. I first met Wes during a little brother's weekend at 4-H House, as he was the younger brother of my friend, Rachel. He was probably in junior high then, and yet, inexplicably, he grew up. Go figure. He went on to graduate from U of I, to start…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Wachtels

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 14, 2011

    Remember the Mieses? Todd and Lynelle Wachtel were gathered around that same table with us a few years back, learning the ropes as new members of the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders. As we got to know Todd and Lynelle a little better, John and I became both impressed and perplexed. Impressed, because they run a stellar grain operation with their family at rural Altamont, in Effingham County. Perplexed, because they really farm with family. Like, they farm together and they…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Pollards

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 13, 2011

    I got to know Brent and Carrie Pollard a little better when they were Cultivating Master Farmer participants a couple years ago. Carrie grew up on a farm near Little York, and today they milk 100 cows with Brent's parents, Warren and Gail. They also raise corn, beans, alfalfa and assorted forages on 800 acres. Translated, "assorted forages" means a lot when you're talking 100 head of dairy cows. Off the farm and in between milkings, Carrie works for Bethany Swine, where she helps about…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Bowmans

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 12, 2011

    Married just over two years now, Andrew and Karlie Bowman are popping up in a lot of places these days. Granted, I got to know Karlie through our UI ag communications connection (she's an '09 grad) and I've run into her at various points of the past several years. I think we first met in the media tent at the Farm Progress Show. It's an exciting place; they have donuts there. Don't tell. Andrew and Karlie are like a lot of young ag couples, in that they met in school, they both love…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Pratts

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 11, 2011

    Several years ago when I visited the Pratt farm for a story about their grain system, I came away with two main thoughts: 1) awe that they paused in the middle of harvest to chat, take a few pictures and have Andy show me around their grain system, and 2) awe that Mike (father to upper-20-somethings Andy and Peter) talked of stepping back and letting them take over. I was awed enough about #2 that I called him up later, talked some more about this concept and wrote a column about it. Andy…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Martins

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 10, 2011

    Doug Martin is one of those farmers who it feels like I've known for most of my career. Like, that we might have gone to college together, except that we didn't. In fact, I don’t' remember exactly how we met, other than at some point I met his dad, Jeff, went to their farm, shot some pictures and we struck up an email friendship after that. Then, about a year ago, I had the pleasure of meeting his very lovely and very genuine wife, Erin, when the Illinois Farm Families coalition taught us…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Schillings

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 9, 2011

    Daniel and Lesa Schilling are just nice people. They're raising three little kids, in what some might call God's Country. Especially some who were also raised there. In fact, I grew up around Daniel and Lesa (Duncan), in and around Edwards County. I always knew Daniel to be a hard-working hog farm boy - though that could describe a lot of the young guys in the county back then, before the hog crisis of '98 led a lot of local hog farmers out of the business. After they married, Daniel and…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Walters

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 8, 2011

    A few years back, Prairie Farmer named Jamie Walter's dad, Jim, as a Master Farmer. For the record, you've hardly seen anyone so proud and so supportive of his father, as Jamie was of Jim. It was really very touching to watch. And so was born a friendship between Jamie and wife Kristen and me and my husband. Over the years, we've exchanged emails and phone calls, including last week when we tried THREE TIMES to have a cell phone conversation about our WatchDog unit (thanks a lot…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Kortes

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 7, 2011

    It's funny how, when as a woman you get to know another young woman before she's married, it becomes really hard to think of her with a different last name. Even when she's been married for, say, 12 years. That's the way it is for me with Tiffany (Henry) Korte. I grew up showing Shorthorns with Tiffany, and in fact, we have a shared tartan past. Tiffany was the Illinois Shorthorn Lassie queen the year before I was, and she became the National Queen after that. Really, very, quite impressive…

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  • Holly Spangler

    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Hawkinsons

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 6, 2011

    Like many of the featured families this month, I came to know Matt and Carrie Hawkinson through our experience at the University of Illinois. In fact, Carrie lived at 4-H House when I did, and Matt was on the meats judging team with my husband. I remember well when they got engaged; it was one of the first engagement ceremonies I ever participated in at the house, and boy, was Carrie excited. And so were we, for her, as she prepared to marry this Knox County farmer. And when John and I…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Weavers

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 5, 2011

    I first met Jarod Weaver in 2004, when I wrote a story about young people farming without the help of family. Jarod was from Fairfield, a town over from where I grew up, and I'm pretty sure we shot the photos when I was home for my 10-year reunion. Fast-forward a few years and Jarod is married to Carissa, a sweet young woman whose family farmed next door to mine, and they have three kids. Crazy. And, they're farming 2,000 acres between Albion and Fairfield, raising corn, soybeans and…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Stewarts

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 4, 2011

    Basically, Bob and Sarah Stewart are our farming heroes. John laughs and says, "we're not worthy," but really it's kinda true. Bob and Sarah just seem to do things right: they take care of the farm, they have great kids, they've expanded their operation, they're just nice people. In fact, a neighboring farmer said of them, "you'd never guess they're as large of an operation as they are. They're just really nice people." This past summer, a few of the folks who work with BASF along with a…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Thomases

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 3, 2011

    I remember hearing DeAnna Thomas's name a few years ago, back when she was DeAnna Schertz. I didn't know her personally but knew she was an up-and-coming ag communications major who was clearly going places and ready to do great things. It didn't hurt that she started out as an intern for farm radio giant Colleen Callahan, either. Earlier this year, DeAnna took over as agribusiness director for 1470 WMBD and 1290 WIRL in Peoria. I got to know her better when she asked me to be one of two…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Mies Family

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 2, 2011

    Ten or so years ago, John and I sat in an orientation meeting for the Illinois Farm Bureau Young Leaders committee. Among the other couples were Ted and Julie Mies. And though John had known Julie in college, somehow I never crossed their paths with either of them (despite mutual friends). Crazy. Especially crazy because we all hit it off right away. We were young, just getting started in our families' farming operations, wives working off the farm, no kids yet but thinking about it. Also…

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    30 Days of Farms & Families: The Webels

    My Generation

     by Holly Spangler
     on November 1, 2011

    Fifteen-ish years ago, I was a lowly agricultural undergrad at the University of Illinois and I met this guy, Joe Webel, in a student organization we were both a part of. Joe was a jovial kind of guy who always seemed to have a smile and quite frankly, he had some of the best jokes. If you define "best" as something along the lines of: "Three guys walked into a bar and the fourth one ducked." Personally, that was my favorite. If you had met Joe during that time in his life, you'd likely come…

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