30 Days of Farms & Families: The Hawkinsons

My Generation

Day 6: Matt and Carrie Hawkinson are raising it all in Knox County: hogs, cattle, corn, soybeans and kids.

Published 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 got engaged and were preparing to make a life in neighboring Fulton County, Carrie hugged me and exclaimed, "We're gonna have dirty little fair kids together!" Because that's two of the things young rural women get excited about: friends and the county fair.

Today, Matt and Carrie are parents to Hannah, 12, Emma, 9, Andrew, 6, and Seth, 10 months. They farm just north of Galesburg with Matt's parents, Harold and Carol, and uncle and aunt, David and Janice. Together, they grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa and cereal ryegrass. They also raise 400 sows in a farrow-to-finish operation, and run a 50-head cow/calf herd.

Illinois farm family

Matt and Carrie recently made an interesting observation about farming, in that it requires both hard work and continual study, but also courage. I hadn't really thought of it that way, but they're right. Courage.

Which, to be honest, makes me think of the Cowardly Lion, entirely because my kids were in a production of The Wizard of Oz this fall and we CAN'T STOP SINGING the songs. And you know, at the end, the Wizard points out that though the Cowardly Lion wished fervently for courage and "da nourve," he was simply a "victim of disorganized thinking." That when he thought he was being cowardly and avoiding danger, he was actually showing great wisdom.

So in farming, courage=wisdom? Perhaps. We don't ever want to run from a challenge, but we do have to decide when to dive in (sell grain now?) and when to hold out (sell grain later?). We have to figure how much to bid on ground, how much is enough but no more. When to stay in the livestock business and when to get out. When to hold 'em. When to fold 'em. When to walk away. When to run.

So, yes. Courage.

And where is courage supposed to come from? Matt and Carrie add, "for us, it is our faith that affords us courage."

I do believe they are onto something there. 

30 Days of Farm & Families
Day 1: The Webels
Day 2: The Mies Family
Day 3: The Thomases
Day 4: The Stewarts
Day 5: The Weavers