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 a career with a local bank, and then to return to the farm. He married his lovely bride, Jamie, and they are parents to Dalton, 7, and Miles, 1. He farms with his dad, Curt, just down the road from our place, near the western edge of Fulton County.
(I apologize if this is confusing; I grew up in southern Illinois, met Rachel in college, met her neighbor boy John in college, married John, moved to western Illinois. The end.)
I really love Jamie. She cracks me up, and I don't think she's ever met a stranger. She still considers herself a farmwife-in-training, as she adjusts to some of the hours and laundry situations that come home during calving. Wes says her biggest contributions at this point are patience and understanding. (I love that.) He adds, "Both were tested last year with it being my first official harvest as a full-time farmer. Jamie was 8 ½ months pregnant, and I was supposed to be building a nursery!"
But all's well that ends well. And look at that little Miles! I'm sure he appreciates the nursery very much.
Wes and Jamie farm with Wes' parents, Curt and Mary. They grow corn and beans on 1,500 acres, and throw in a little hay for the fun of it. And the interesting part: they run a 125-head cow/calf herd, and feed out 650 calves a year. That very much explains Jamie's laundry "situations," no?
For his part, Wes has a pretty clear understanding of what he'd like consumers to know about their operation. "I’d like visitors to see that we work hard to do things the right way for our soils, our livestock and consumers, all of which allow us to make a living doing what we love."
He'd also like to see the end of the hayseed farmer, bib-overall wearing Old McDonald image farmers are often saddled with. Wes points out that farmers are sophisticated business people who manage revenues, expenses, markets, taxes, employees and risk – like the weather, and other stuff, that's often beyond our control. (we're talking to you MF Global!)
"Most people outside of agriculture would be surprised to learn that it doesn’t take a huge operation to have an annual budget in the millions," Wes adds.
Editor's note: Ryan Goodman at Agriculture Proud is asking agricultural bloggers today to address the question, "how would you farm differently if a stranger followed you around for the day?" It's a great question and really, this entire series has addressed it in some way. I think the answer for most of us is that we wouldn't do anything differently; just as Wes says here, he wants a visitor to see what he does every day to do things the right way. For a look at how other bloggers asnwer this same question, check out Ryan's blog.
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
Day 6: The Hawkinsons
Day 7: The Kortes
Day 8: The Walters
Day 9: The Schillings
Day 10: The Martins
Day 11: The Pratts
Day 12: The Bowmans
Day 13: The Pollards
Day 14: The Wachtels