Joseph Woydziak immigrated to the United States in 1871, and in 1878 he homesteaded land near Debuque in Barton County, KS. Six generations of the family have cared for land in the heart of central Kansas since Great Great Grandpa settled here over a hundred years ago.
Work Ethic Is Instilled Young
Safety has improved since our family first started farming in Barton County. Great Grandpa loved telling a story from the early 1900’s about Great Grandma. She fell off of a piece of equipment while helping till a field. She was bruised and shaken up a bit but survived to sneer at Great Grandpa every time he told the story. He made sure to tell his family this story though to remind them of the dangers of farming and to keep them alert. It was a vital lesson that needed to be learned at an early age, since even the youngest of the family was expected to help around the farm.
Everyone Has A Place
While farming can still be a risky business, it’s nothing like it was one hundred years ago. Time has brought with it improvements in safety and quality of life. A hundred years ago everyone in the family had a role to play in the business, and that still holds true. Growing up on a farm you learn quickly the value of hard work, integrity, and reliability. It also becomes apparent that family isn’t limited to those who share in your blood line. Family has a broader definition that includes those you work with, share a meal with, and God willing prosper with.
Challenges Grow Character
Riding on the fender of open cab tractor is an adventure when your a kid. Stories my Grandpa and Dad would tell about open cab tractors were far less thrilling. According to them, plowing a field in an open cab tractor was a little like driving though a busy construction site in a convertible. Of course with today’s technology dust is rarely an issue, unless the AC goes out. In fact some of the newer tractors and combines no longer have windows. This makes for a nice sealed cab to keep the dust out; but talk about a sweat box when the AC breaks!
We’ve Come A Long Way
A story Dad enjoys sharing is about how autosteer was actually invented the day the first tractor was hitched to a plow. Autosteer, just like it sounds, is the farm machine driving itself using GPS. In Dad’s story there is no GPS. You see, as a field is being plowed a furrow (trench) is dug along the front side of the plow from the soil being tossed in the opposite direction. The result can be a fairly large furrow along one side. As you go around the field, its possible to drop a small tractor tire into that furrow. Apparently it’s pretty difficult to get the tire back out of that trench and the driver is forced to follow the furrow until the end of the row. Thus, Dad jokes, the first autosteer tractor.
Growing The Legacy
On our farm, Mom, Dad, my family, my brothers family, and my sisters family all take part in caring for the land and growing our legacy. My son loves to check fields and we do our best to pass along the knowledge that was handed down to us. He has caught on quick at identifying the crops as well scouting the fields. My wife, Melissa, says he already caught the “farming bug”! My daughter is still young so she doesn’t get to do as much yet, but she already loves to ride in the tractor!
Living A Simple Life
Growing a one acre garden every summer was a family project for my Wife, her Mom, and Grandma. With that much garden, there was always plenty of veggies to can and pickle. She would also help her Mom and Grandma bake different kinds of breads and pies to take to the farmers market and sell. These two fine cooks left a lasting impression and my Wife made it a goal to be just as good! She is determined to honor family traditions and recipes that are over 70 years old. We joke that she could easily adapt to life a couple of centuries ago because of Her passion for the simple life. She dreams of living a self-sustaining life, and having the resources and knowledge to be able to take care of her family.
Goals To Complement Core Values
Like the family, farming has changed and it will continue to change. In that respect the business of farming is like any other, it’s a constant progression. In our opinion, what’s important is to continue refining the farms goals to complement our core values. Passing traditional values and skills to the next generation is a passion we hope will ensure the family farm’s viability for years to come.