Rachel Reabe revisits the farmers of Chanarambie Township in Southwestern Minnesota. Fifteen years ago they were the subject of an award-winning MPR documentary. Hear what they said then, and what they say now about farming and their lives as farmers.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
(00:00:07) Good afternoon, and welcome to this Main Street special live from the Minnesota State Fair. I'm Rachel riebe. We're broadcasting today from the Minnesota Public Radio booth just across the street from the dairy building. The 1980s will be remembered as one of the more difficult decades for Minnesota Farmers land prices dropped interest rates went up and farmers were caught in the middle back in 1986 Minnesota public radio's Mark style interviewed seven Farmers. They were neighbors living in Chana rambi Township a farming community in Southwestern. Minnesota is Murray County some rage corn and soybeans others were Dairy Farmers one raise sheep. They talked in a very personal way about the farm crisis and how it was affecting their farms and their families today. We're going back to the farmers of China rambi Township to see how they're doing 15 years later. Marley boots Mo was the local farmer who suggested that we interview him and his neighbor's he served as narrator and tour guide for the 1986 documentary which ended with boots made describing one of the farms in his Township. (00:01:20) I'm looking at a place where a guy moved on to this place and (00:01:26) he took and you (00:01:27) fixed it up and he worked real hard on this place. He took and he moved it Old Barn in and he tried not to spend too much money on it. He's got the bottom half painted. He ran out of money. So he didn't get the peak painted but the bottoms white the top don't have any paint but one of these days he'll get that done. I know he will and over there is a just Station House and I know for a fact that was 16 degrees below zero heat end that just station house and he got that fixed up pretty decent over to the South here. There's a farrowing house. He spent one winner of his spare time working in there and he fix that up the best. He could Straight Ahead. There's a little well, it's a shot now. It used to be a little barn and he took that and he He drugged it over on a bunch of telephone poles and he sat on a cement slab and he threw his the roofs got holes in it. You can looks like when it was a barn the squirrels must have chewed holes in the shingles, but I know I know the guy pretty good and he's going to get that shingled someday and (00:02:40) to the north here, there's a house (00:02:43) and it needs paint bad, but it's got a new shingles job on it him and him and the neighbors and his brother-in-law the shingled that so didn't leak so bad, but it's got good shingles, but it sure could use a paint job that old barn. I was telling you about that was kind of a neighborhood project when they he moved that in there the neighbors all came down and the cows were were sitting in the yard and horse trailers and he didn't even have the stanchions in the barn yet, but the neighbors all came down pitched in and they put the stanchions in the barn and and they was milk. On one side and put and still build and stanchions on the other side and this guy here. I know him real good because this is me and I look at this and I see six years my life invested and I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I don't know whether I'll be here in a year. I don't know if I'll be here in two years and I look back and I see the memories of all the work I've done and I guess it's makes me feel kind of bad because of the fact that my life and don't hold no certainty to it (00:03:52) whatsoever. Marley boot Smith, how do you feel listening to that assessment of yourself in 1986? (00:04:03) Well, if I look back, I guess I think I really worked hard back then. I'm getting lot lazier. (00:04:13) When you talked about when you pulled up with Mark style in front of that farm and started describing it. Did you sort of see it through fresh eyes the way you described (00:04:24) it. Well, you don't we went there and you have to understand that that was 15 years ago. And that was still when even in uncertainty you thought that there was really a bright. Hope you just had to make it through the year to make it through the mud and when you got through the mud there would be dry spot on the other side. And if I look now boy, I'll tell you what, I think there's going to be a lake out there. I'm beginning to think once we make it through the mud. It might get worse or deeper. And that's really what the other panelists said the uncertainty and there was uncertainty 15 years ago. And I really don't think that's changed any at all. (00:05:11) But when we first recorded you in 1986, it sound like you didn't know if you'd be their farming six months from then or a year from that now 2001 15 years later. Tell us where you're at. You still on that piece of land if you got your house painted (00:05:29) I probably went through and I in and pride makes it hurt to say this but I went I went broke. I mean I can say what I want but I actually went flat broke. I took and looked at it and said in my going to quit and go to town or am I going to try again? And I decided that I never really failed it too much in my life so that I didn't want to quit as a farmer failing. So I thought I'd better give it one more shot and trust me the trying to start over again was twice as hard as it was the first time any Joe's here today. Also, he can pry remember that when he was milking cows. I went down borrowed his wagon so that I could combine corn and beans while he was he has a tremendous lot of chores. I borrowed his wagons and a couple of the other neighbors wagons and and hauled corn and beans I didn't even have wagons. You know, I mean I talked about went to zero. I went to 0 and I chose that to keep trying and I did and that was one thing that I will say. Aye you didn't give up. I did not give (00:06:36) up. Let's hear another piece of tape from that 1986 documentary when you describe one of the lowest points of your farm career. (00:06:45) Our pride is getting pretty well shot up for myself personally. I was terrible proud. You know what I had a farm sale. I had a farm sale June 14th. That's when your Prides got to stop. I guide my wife was crying and I guess if I had to sit there and watch how sad she wasn't in myself. I was terrible sad and that was hard because I stood on my farm place and I watched the equipment that I had paid been paying on and working to get for 10 years. I watched it all go down the driveway and I watched other people hook onto it and put a pin in it knowing that it was going to go to all different parts of the country. And I guess that day on I figured my pride was pretty well gone because they it was stripped from me. Maybe it's maybe it was evil that a man had Prides of pride in the thing that he worked for. but we had goals and things that we work for and through no choice of our own we got them taken away from us. (00:08:01) Really at that point what options were available to you? You had a farm sale is sold the equipment. Did you hang onto the land or some of the (00:08:10) land? I have to be honest. I needed back at my farm because there was no way I could pay for it. I had bought it at the peak. I bought it in 1979 and that had to been at that time the prisoner the high point and all and of course is higher and federal land bank kind of says to me that they would sell me 180 back and I guess maybe I did that little bit I suggested to them that I had five children a wife and no house. And so they put it on a contract for deed and I did purchase an 80 acres back and that's what I went down to was an 80 acres. So with that in mind I did keep in farming so that I could kind of keep chiseling it back and I had a couple other deals where I was able to rent some land and so I work my way back out of it. Now. I had an uncle out of Iowa. That was at the same point. I was generation older and he quit. He said I'm too old to do it again and he stopped so, I mean, it's just at that point. There's a turning point of how old are you how much steam do you have left? And and that's where you go from. (00:09:28) How old are you now? (00:09:29) I'm going to be 50 years old in November. (00:09:33) So 15 years ago. You were in your mid-30s. Yes raising five kids. You had to make a living. This wasn't trying to move into a retirement wasn't an option for you at 35. Was it? No, so you're down to this just small fraction of your original land. You've sold the equipment. You're borrowing Ed's wagon when he's sleeping. How do you get it going again? Did you get another job (00:10:02) basically what really helped me and would probably off-farm income did get me going and there for a while things got really tough. We took in the my wife and children did the chores. I bought a truck and I far are farmed and truck for three years in the and I averaged about a hundred and forty-four thousand miles out on the road, which if anybody knows truck and that's a full-time job for anybody and we farmed with that and that basically I would have to say probably help me with Some outside the income get going again, (00:10:43) but Marley once you got into that trucking business, did you ever think? Goodbye farming? Hello Trucking or was Trucking always that means to get back to where you wanted to be. (00:10:56) I guess I my banker asked me one day. He said the land that we have now. He says I have a question for you. Why do you work so hard and don't just rent it out because I think your rent would make the payments. You wouldn't have to work so hard and I heard him talking about Jackpot Junction. And I said the banker it's kind of like Blackjack you sit there and the people are all at the table. The chairs are full and you're hoping this guy loses his last five dollars so you can have the chair and lose your money too. And that's how farm and seems to be. You want the chair you want to be out there you want to do it and going there thinking you're going to make money. I don't even when I go to a casino. I don't think I'm going to make money and when I farm I'm beginning to think I'm not going to make money. It's I don't know. It's it's in your blood. I heard the other gentleman say it to it just it gets in your blood. It's what we're good at and that's one point. I want to make two they made some Set like the farmers they were weaned in out the poor ones and all we do not have any poor Farmers left there. They cannot be there the farmers that we have our top notch sharp. They know they're well educated in everything because they have to be to survive just they would have been gone, right you don't understand the government programs and the new chemicals in the seeds and stuff. We are I think labeled as a bunch of people who can't do other things once in a while and I have news for I guess the people were listening is I think we basically can do anything. I know that Eddie Joe here could wire house and he and he probably did he is and I know he could Plum and and do plumbing he could do anything about but we are in a business where we've done it for ourselves. We work for ourselves. We haven't had a boss other than the bank probably but I think that's the independence is kind of Were the old cowboy, you know, we got the independence of doing it and we like to (00:13:00) keep it that is that how it's like for you you do it because you want to keep doing it. And so you'll stay on the farm. I will. If if everybody's wife tried to get their husband to quit there'd be a lot of us, you know, couldn't stay. Uh-huh, but your wife stood there by you pretty much. Let's talk a little bit about your situation 15 years ago. So we're back to 1986 when the documentary was put together you and your wife were milking 50 cows on your 400 Acre Farm you were in your early 30s to so you're about the same age as Marley you were raising three children. You told us you were struggling to pay the interest on your farm debt and keep up with the massive workload. And we are going to go to you because we have you on a piece of tape and we're just waiting for that to happen. (00:14:11) The land at that time this was in 1979 when I bought land was going extremely high. So we went out and bought it and it's I'll tell you in 1980 everything changed. It was like a hundred eighty degree turn. It's the Hogs got cheap in the green got cheap and some of its timing I'll have to say that the biggest mistake I would have to say is the fact that in trying to be modern maybe that I did that I and I will say this that I spent money. I invested it. I invested in a finishing house. There was no place to finish hogs on that place. So I invested in a finishing house and the farrowing house. I remodeled the gestation house. I remodeled I moved a nursery in To my place we put a furnace in the house because it's a it's a large old house and it's quite cold and we put new shingles on the house because the roof leak so bad. So we did do that and I really think that I pretty well those pretty practical with my investments. I didn't overdo it. I tried to do it right without spending very much money. I used to believe that in America. This was the land of opportunity that the government kept their nose clean and they were honest and fair and now I believe that You can work as hard as you want to our do whatever you want to and if the government decides to ball it up it'll get balled up and you're going to take it on the chin and it does not matter what you do and now I look back and you say what would I have done different? I think a guy could have sat in the house and looked out the window made just about as much money as we did working (00:16:11) hard. And at that wasn't your piece of tape that was Marley's but let's go with that Marley that frustration of you work hard. You work unbelievably hard and you don't get ahead. That's where you were at 15 years ago. Do you feel that way now, (00:16:30) I would have to say yes that I do the difference probably is that I will say one thing we decided to discontinue livestock and Ed still I couldn't follow it around for a day and keep up. I couldn't I'll admit that and modesty because add probably works harder than he did before because the fact that he had three kids home helping him and I pretty much think they're all gone him and brender home by themselves and they're still doing the same workload as they did before. The thing that changed is we went to grain farming we've increased in acres. Little bit but the Machinery that we have is large (00:17:16) less labor-intensive. (00:17:18) Exactly. We have a small Trucking firm. I have really good drivers, who are you don't help me well with that they pick their own loads and do some of this stuff to share some of that with me. So that is a real Plus for me. And the thing I have to say, I don't think farming's any more profitable, but I do a lot less labor in it. (00:17:45) We have an audience here watching our Main Street show from the Minnesota State Fair in Kate Smith is in the midst of them Kate. Well Rachel I was watching Kathy boots Mama as she was listening to Marley talking and early on I asked her whether or not there was any way that they discussed this on the way here to the state fair, you know talked about what it's been like for the last 15 years. She said, no, not really and I thought oh that's interesting. But you were listening to that tape and things were hitting you a little differently weren't they? Yeah, I guess I really never look back at it. We have the tape at home when we guess I didn't listen to it but tears kind of come to your eyes because I guess I really didn't remember. What barley held on that tape? Excuse me, and it just brings it back to you. Doesn't it? Yeah, it does. There's a lot of hard times but we made it. We raised our five kids. We raised him well and we're still here. Did you make the right decision to stay on the farm at some point? Were you and Marley always in agreement on this or sometimes were you let's go and he was let's stay in the next day. You were let's stay and he was let's go most the time I was let's go I have to say that he was the one that wanted to say and I said, let's just go and he says no someday we'll have this ground will be able to keep it and what we able to retire on this ground and there's one thing about it. We kept the ground for 29 years. I stayed home with my kids. I was very very lucky. I raised my five kids. I went back. I went to work three years ago as the first job I ever had. Well, I guess off the farm job, I guess. I mean, I've been working like a maniac I raised five kids. I'm out, too. They're cows. I fell to finish 240 cells. So I did work but that always kind of amazed me when people says to me you don't have a job. I had a job. I raised five kids and for 29 years I was on the you know was on the farm so we did have a job, but glad we were there raise my five kids in had a good time doing it. And this is Boots mad are your kids in farming? Did you want your kids to stay in farming? That was a big one last met my son graduated from college with a degree in Agronomy. He's got a five-year degree in the ground. I me Marlee wanted him to come home and farm. I said no, let him go get a job. Let him make a living but he's at home with us and he still in our house. He gets married next July he still on our house. I love my kids at home. He is farming with us because Marla I can't do it by himself and I now have a full-time job. I woke out work off the farm just to get our insurance health insurance and that type of thing because it's tough when you're on the farm to get health insurance. And so I do work off the farm and My name is Ryan is there to help Marley? He's 23 years old with a five-year Agronomy degree and it probably will be some day were the grand Ami degree is going to be very very helpful for a farmer just to stay alive and your other kids. My oldest son works down in Iowa with his uncle he is a man or hauling business. So he's related with farming. My second son repairs all kinds of trailers like wreck trailers like grain trailers livestock trailers that type of thing so he is hooked a little bit with farming my third son manages the he has a maintenance he manages the maintenance of great big hog confinement in Pipestone County. My fourth son has the economy degree and my fifth child is a girl and she is a nursing major at Mankato State University. So you're grateful you raise those kids on the farm. Yes. I am Marley is you hear your wife talk. Do you feel that emotional about back in 1986 or do you just sort of go forward and not look back much. (00:21:30) I guess I can to do the go forward. She's the one that was practical. The one that I always kind of thought. I was like the speedboat that would have ran into the rocks and she was kind of like the anchor that slowed me down a little bit and between the two of us we can to maintain about the right pace because I was always sometimes didn't think stuff out. I was just going to go go go and she was now we're going to better think this over and between the two of us that worked out well (00:21:58) and let's go back now and listen to your piece of tape again 15 years ago, you're in your 30s you and your wife are raising three kids make them 50 cows on your 400 Acre Farm. There isn't a woman in town that would live under the circumstances. My wife does. If the chief of staff Don Regan came out here he did he'd have to bring I think three Marines the best Marines he's got to get my work done because I know he couldn't do it just to do chores. It takes about 10 hours a day. Now that's that's not figuring any time for the guy that during the time of year that we spend in the field time that you would spend graining feed or other odd chores. I'm just talking about just the milking the feeding things we do every day that we have to do. You know if we get a sun couple hours off on a Sunday afternoon, that's that's considered a vacation. It's been three years four years since we had a vacation I think. And that would be a two-day trip up to visit a friend of ours. Yeah, that's where you were at 15 years ago. Do you remember how hard a life that was? Yep too much borrowed money. Could you sleep at night? Yeah, you were so tired right had to sleep at night. Yep. Has it gotten any easier? Yeah, you decide you're going to pay off your debts and only buy things that increase your income because you don't realize when you buy something what a load that puts on your income. The biggest difference people ask why this farmers making money and this other farmer isn't and it's because of what his money is costing him, you know, if he if he's got a dad that's got machinery and land there's a net worth tied up in there that the boy uses but the IRS never sees the money. It's a big push for the kit and some of the people that were lucky enough to buy land when it was two hundred dollars an acre and now it's worth 1,500 or 2,000 dollars an acre that's inflated net worth that they can borrow against and if they turn around and borrow its right away, it's cost them 10% So anytime you see a farmer that expands his operation. He's sticking his foot in the Trap. Because he's going to have to make more to pay that 10% interest as he goes now Marley talked about getting out of livestock because it was so labor-intensive. He couldn't do it anymore. You're still there milk in those dairy cows. Your wife couldn't come because she's home milk in the dairy cows. Were you just not willing to give up that part of farming? Is that the part that you love why I Like Cows, but if you want to make money, you have to stay with something that's labor-intensive like Fair wing sauce or or milkin cows. Old lamb just you only take one crop a year off of it's like stock cow. If you lose the calf. You've lost your whole crop. Where's the milk cow you you kind of dig in and you at least get the milk the calf everything else that goes with it. You know, you've got a steady job. I guess the other thing is when your homework and you are not spending any money, you know, like you don't have time to spend any money you go out for supper and drop $50 on a stake for you and your wife, you know, that people don't realize what some of us have to do to make that 50 bucks back. I'm Rachel Reba, we're catching up on some Farmers from Chan Aram be Township who we interviewed 15 years ago during the farm crisis. We are live at the Minnesota State Fair MPR shirts hats mugs CDs and more. It's all available at this Minnesota Public Radio booth at the State Fair stop by and pick up your favorite public radio merchandise including tempting items from A Prairie Home Companion Car Talk st. Paul Sunday and all things considered and don't forget to sign up for Arturo mower blower thrower giveaway. Look for a complete schedule of live events on our website at Minnesota Public Radio dot-org. We'll be back with more of Main Street after news and weather. (00:26:35) Thank you Rachel. Good morning. I'm here. Good afternoon. I'm Steven John orders to u.s. Factories were slightly higher in July. The Commerce Department says orders Rose 1/10 of 1% led by increases in demand for transportation products as well as in Furniture household appliances and Communications equipment. Economists had expected a decline the report helps stock prices move higher as Wall Street tries to recover lost ground after four straight days of declines. The Dow is up almost 50 points. The NASDAQ is up 11. The justice department is urging the Supreme Court to reject Microsoft's request for a review of the antitrust case against it the justice department filing disputes. The software Giants claim that the case is ripe for the high Court's review the Dominican government says Little League star pitcher. Danny Almonte is 14 years old a finding that could strip his Bronx team of its third place world series title. The little league is expected to issue a statement sometime today. The police chief in Sioux City Iowa says officers have arrested a suspect in the slayings of seven people including a mother and five children authorities had been looking for a 23 year old man who they say new all seven of the victims. They described him as armed and dangerous a Stearns County District. Judge has ruled against a sink Cloud man who claimed officers kept stopping Him because he is black judge Paul why dick ruled today that there was no discrimination. He said officers were only doing random license checks of vehicles when they happen to catch a manual Matthews senior twice last year Minnesota's new welfare system is expected to officially end welfare payments to one state family tomorrow when the family hits the state's 60-month lifetime limit on welfare. The family is expected to be the first removed from the welfare system the state forecast mostly sunny and pleasant highs in the low 60s in the far north to mid-70s in the South continued cool tonight and into Saturday St. Cloud has 65 degrees at 60 in Duluth Fargo-Moorhead 61 this hour while in Albert Lea, it's 63 in the Twin Cities 66. That's a news update. I'm Steven (00:28:37) John. Welcome back to this Main Street special from the Minnesota Public Radio booth at the Minnesota State Fair. I'm Rachel riebe. It's not often that we're able to go back and revisit people we've interviewed, but that's what we're doing today 15 years ago. We aired a documentary on the farmers of Chana rambi Township seven families who live near each other in Southwestern Minnesota has Murray County. We've asked them to catch us up on what's happened in their lives since 1986 two of the farmers Marlin boots, man Ed heard have joined me here at the Minnesota State Fair others were trying to catch up by telephone. Our phone lines are open for your questions and comments as well. If you are in the Twin Cities, you can call us at 6'5 12276 thousand. If you're outside the metro area calls it 1-800 to for to 28 28. Gentlemen, when I listen to the chant Aram be Township documentary, I was struck by how honest you were by how much you shared by how personal you got. Are you sort of surprised when you listen back to it after you are you surprised as you were as vulnerable as you were back then? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely Marley. How about we weren't live then either. Oh, so that seemed a lot easier when you were just with the reporter in your farmhouse. So you had no hesitation about talking and telling him just where things were at with you. No problem. How about you Marley? (00:30:12) Well when Mark first came to me to do that we (00:30:16) talked and this was your idea we should (00:30:18) say well he had a different idea. That's just put it that way and we moved to this idea when we can come up with this idea. He had mentioned, you know, what it what are your neighbors thinking I mentioned one thing a farmer should never be Put in the deal where this is what my neighbor thinks you go. Ask my neighbor. He will tell you what he thinks if you asked any of my neighbors today, it's the same thing you want to know opinion. They will give you their opinion. They are not shy about that because most like I said earlier, I think that farmers are way more intelligent than we are given credit for and we know a lot about a lot of things (00:31:03) your reaction when you heard the finished documentary. (00:31:08) I took and listen to it and thought boy every time I couldn't think of something to say I said and a lot that's what I thought when I heard that (00:31:16) tape did people talk to you about and hearing you on the air? No, not really. No, everybody else kind of keeps their opinion of their self. It seems to me everybody thinks they're going to be a survivor. And 10% of us went out. Then next time the economy gets tough. Another 10% goes out and pretty soon you're down to the people that thought they were going to be survivors and now they're starting to worry too. Are you starting to worry? No. No, I know what what fate is going to bring. It's going to be you there with your wife and your dairy cows. No, we're going to go out. None of our kids are the farm. Is that hard you raise three kids on the farm you've lived on a farm. Is it tough not to see that continue in some ways, but I don't want my kids to have to live like this. Yeah. And if they can get an education and a good job, either your kids grown up now add where your kids at home. My oldest girl is 24 and massage therapist. My oldest boy is 21 and he's going to medical school. The boy that's 19 is in Marshall for graphic arts. None of them plan on farming. So are you 50 years old or almost 50 years old 48 in December? So how much longer will you be doing this? I mean if you could if you could write your future now Ed, what do you think? It would look like? Oh three years. You think you'll be out your early 50s? Yeah, I'll be done milking cows. So then what Marlins have given us your list of job qualifications, it sounds like you can do it all you can Plumb you can be an electrician. What will you do but I have no degree. Yeah, you know, I could I can take a diesel engine apart and come back six months later and put it back (00:33:24) together by (00:33:25) memory. And wire a house Plum. Well anything you can think of I can just about do but I do not have a degree. So when you go looking for a job. You're going to be shoveling dirt or and a 50 year old guy has no business, you know competing with 20 year old kids not when he's done the work of three Marines for the last 20 years. So you will can you stay on the farm? Can you keep your house and some of the land? Yeah, but I mean, like I said, if you want to make money farming you got to be in something that's labor-intensive and when I turned 50, I think that's probably time to quit milking. And then I'll I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, but it's not going to be easy. No. Channa rambi farmer Merle heard told us that things were going pretty well for him on the farm until 1982 and interest rates skyrocketed by 1985. He called it quits. He sold most of his farm equipment and turned the operation over to his son. And that's where we were at with him when Mark style interviewed him back in 1986 in this piece of tape (00:34:40) best decision. I made in my (00:34:41) life. Mr. Quit farming them (00:34:44) because I still have the home place which my dad bought and 1938 and that'll still stay in the family this way drove truck last year and and Then after that kind of led up and along and August why then I took my old E8 caterpillar that I still have with the Dozer and I went and done some work in this disaster area where the tornado went through after that the neighbors down here. We're going to build a new Dairy (00:35:15) Barn. I helped work on that and then (00:35:19) I done there plowing in there. Cutting or silage and I pick the corn when the ground it in the saddle easiest year I ever had working for somebody else. Lots of times. I drove truck clear to Philadelphia and bank, but that's easier on the Constitution and farming get out quick while you got what you got left. If you can salvage anything get out of it. Because there's no future in it the way this new Farm (00:35:51) program. We have Merle heard on the phone with us now from his farm house in Chennai rambi Township. Mr. Her did you have any regrets about getting out of farming when you did (00:36:03) not one bit? That's the best thing I ever did. (00:36:08) Should you have done it earlier than you did? (00:36:12) Oh, maybe a year but up till then why it wasn't too bad. And but I have one regret that I help my boy get started farming now, I'd that was a disservice to (00:36:27) him. Why do you say that? Mr. (00:36:32) Hurd? Whoa, what future has he got he's his kids will never be able to farm and I tell them right now not to ever even think about it because there's just all they're going to do is pay a lot of interest and work their life away and me when your farm like that. Well, you don't pay much into Social Security's and you build an old Equity up, you know in our a or something like that and when it comes to retire way and they'll be kind of in a shape that I would have been in a five wouldn't equipment took another job. (00:37:10) Mr. Hurd, if you were told your son don't do is I'm doing don't follow in my footsteps. Don't go into farming when he have listened to you. (00:37:20) Well, he wanted to farm. So he was in partnership with me. So I just sold out and sold him the milk cows and sold our better Machinery off and he bought some cheaper stuff and he's got along pretty good. But you know and now he's probably 40 years old and don't own any land. He's got his cows and he's machinery and they got a pretty good life their rents more land besides mine, but good God when you look at the interest that they pay why it's terrible. (00:37:54) Do you help him on the farm (00:37:55) still no more as of a few weeks ago. I sold my last piece of farm equipment. I sold my Silo filling outfit and I went around filled silos for the neighbors. But now that's all gone to I'm going to take it easy. I'm 71 years (00:38:12) old. Good for you, mr. Her thanks for joining us on the phone today Marley Ed. Did your kids? Listen? Can you can you tell kids what they're going to do? Yeah, I mean they lived it. And so how did you go about talking to them edited? You never really have to say anything. Did they just see how you struggled? No, we always encourage them to get an education to do good in school. Yeah. And Marley, how about your kids Well, (00:38:48) Chad was farming with me and I have to be honest. It didn't work out very well. He paid too much interest the same thing that Ed would talk about Merle was talking about and he chose to do something different. I was very glad that he did in a way and yet when Ryan asked about starting farming, I do believe that it was good that he went to college that sounds awful, but it's like something to fall back on though isn't that terrible that we would go into farming and say well he has an education to fall back on and like you already know. It might not work in that a terrible (00:39:28) thing, but it's a tentative step into a (00:39:30) career exactly Kathy's aunt and uncle were down from Michigan they we're eating dinner and my aunt Kathy's Aunt asked Ryan what he planned on doing and he had just graduated from college and Ryan said I'm going to come home Farm look dad. And she said what you're going to waste your education and I got so angry. I don't I got angry right at the table. And I said, that's really what you think of farming. Isn't that you think we're all out here. Just wasting our time and yet when you go to a grocery store, the shelves are full. We have the best Supply food in the world and how does it get there? We do it and yet kind of a disappointment. I walked across the deal bought this bottle of water and I paid $2 for it, but I'm going to sell a dollar seventy corn out of the field. They sell a bushel corn for a dollar seventy, but I'll buy a bottle of water for two dollars. I mean, we just aren't in we're not where we have to be. I think everybody that Farms knows that that are the government program has bailed us out to degree and I hope people probably think it was like a welfare program and I have to be honest it probably was but without that program, I ain't sure a lot of us would be (00:40:51) here. Okay. Now this is a place where I think Ed is going to take some disagreement with you Ed. What do you have to say about that? Well in a welfare program the farm program used to be called the food Security Act and we had a reserve that we built up the government paid storage on it. If we had a crop failure, at least we had something in storage then we had butter cheese the government had that all stored away and we never seen the the market go from $10 last summer to $17 this year in a year's time, you know for dairy products the government. Was doing us a service by storing your future food supply in case of emergency now. They just they got the idea that we're supposed to raise it put it on a boat and somebody will take that boat load of corn or you know, if we give it to them whatever but the government then turns around and imports pork from anybody. That'll put it on a boat milk. If the people knew how much milk comes into this country from places like New Zealand. It's just a way of keeping labor down. We're going to the telephone now. We have Leroy from Stearns County patiently standing by Leroy. Good afternoon. Welcome to Main (00:42:12) Street, good afternoon. And you have a very interesting a discussion there and I just thought I'd share my situation a little bit. I'm a Dairy Farmer. I started farming in 1969 and I to have a college degree and I wanted to get into farming again in the economics of farming course. I started 169 was the same as right now the these told me you want to go back into farming with Mike education and farming was a little difficult in the late 60s, but then we had two good years in the 70s and got me well established. But even today now of course milk prices went up again this year and we are doing pretty good. We have I have lighter soil and I'm only getting a Half a crop but there you can sell wish that and so forth. But I like to comment on the change in farm program. I remember so well in the middle 70s we were running short on food and we had some weather disasters and then the government decided we have to increase our resource so we can withstand crop failures and so forth, but then reserves kept building up and became too expensive and then with Reagan we went had that the payment in kind deal to get our reserves down. And of course then that was an 83 we had not the best weather conditions and we ran short and corn the prices went up and buy the thing problem was who wanted to pay for the storage cost government was hard pressed on paying its bills and Why they wanted to get all this Reserve System and but the trouble I still feel that government should have some reserves. I think there's a good thing to sort of counter the we get bad weather and so forth, but it also built depressed prices and when prices fluctuate that in itself makes it profitable for Farmers to try to pay for their own storage cost and so forth and the present (00:44:41) program. There's a chance to respond to this Marley any comments you have about what he's saying to you agree with him. (00:44:49) Well, I think he hit on it a little bit and he had both did. You know, we have we have been blessed in this country with just astronomically good crops and in return the government has done a Really poor job of it. I mean we've had the surpluses which the gentleman on the phone said and also commented that that was with the reserve program was designed for but you know, I think we've come to the just the thought in life that food will always be here. But if we had a couple of really good droughts in this country, we would really be punished because of the fact that our government is not covered the food supply at all and add was talking about it was kind of cute. I also have Crux when butter was at the all-time low the all-time lows butter ever was we were going to Seattle and we were hauling imported butter out of Seattle to the Midwest where the butter is. Now, (00:45:52) how does that make you feel at? All that that really Burns me. It doesn't bother me. Now when milk is say butter is two dollars and twenty cents a pound wholesale if they would import a little You know just take the edge off of so the consumers get a break, but when milk is $10 a hundred and everybody is on the verge of bankruptcy and they're still importing products from overseas that really stings. Let's talk about some of the other Farmers from Chan Aram be Township kept catch me up with some of them Jean Shield. Actually. We were hoping to talk to Jean today. He now works for you Marley. (00:46:32) Well, I'll tell you what Gene chose at the same time probably that I chose to discontinue our Continuum. Excuse me, Jean chose to kind of quit he was going to try something else and he worked at a elevator and me and Gene have been friends for years and he's a hard-working individual and he wanted to change and from agriculture a little bit. And of course I was looking for some help driving truck and Gene works with With the truck, he again chooses all the loads pays attention to all the stuff. So basically I can continue doing my agriculture because if I had to do the stuff that he does I wouldn't have time. (00:47:18) Do you think he likes his life driving truck? I called him earlier this week the middle of the morning and I said, is this a good time to talk? I called him on his cell phone. He said I'm on the freeway outside of Los Angeles. This would not be a good time for me to talk. But does he like the trucking life? (00:47:35) I think it's I think he likes it. But it's like any other jobs. It has its ups and downs, you know, he went to LA and went up to pick a load up and it fell apart and he had us in a day or two and I'm sure if you to talk to him right at that time. He probably wasn't real but I think he likes it. He gets out gets the see some country. I do believe and I hate speaking for other people. I do believe that and he's excellent. I will put it that way. I can't tell you what he thinks but I can tell you does an excellent job of it. He does a fan. Tastic job of what he does (00:48:07) now Baba Stafford was one of the other Farmers that we interviewed back in 1986. He was Raising sheep. He was the only one of the seven of you that were raising sheeps. He was also milking cows and growing crops on a hundred and sixty acres of land in Chana rambi Township in the original documentary. This is what Baba suffered had to say. (00:48:27) I enjoyed out here a farming life is the best place. I've seen growing up and best place to raise a family and I enjoy farming I always have really the main thing is, you know, the birth of life, you know on the farm, you know, we call casts sheep, you know has lands or self arrows, you know it it's always a Wandering bringing new life, you know into the into the world more or less kind of makes you forget. You know, what What is happening in the world, you know in sit back and you on his put a smile on your face. Once again, I worked in town for several years before I started farming because there's no way that I could get started on my own, you know in my folks have helped out and I've watched what I bought in got good deals and I'm still surviving so far. (00:49:25) Yeah. I'd like to continue to keep this, (00:49:27) you know, our family farm, you know, my grandfather moved here in 1914 and my dad he took over in early 40s, and I've took over now in the early 80s and I'm hoping down the road that my son will be able to take over for me here to you know continuation to keeping the farm in the family. But you hear a lot of family farms that that are being lost anyhow, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I'm not going to give (00:49:57) up. So tell us about Bob occifer. She still farming. He's a classic example of a guy that works in town so he can get enough money to afford to farm. There's an amazing number of people that have off arm jobs and just so they can afford to farm and it's not so they can afford to live on the farm place. There's still working there. Now that's part of it though. I mean they all got a couple of beef cattle or stock cows or something that they're you know, so they're still farming but they've got this 825 job in town that gets their health insurance. Pays the bills the heating bill all that incidental stuff are benefits a huge issue. You told me Marlee your wife went to work off the farm not because she wanted to were she had to do it for health insurance. Is that huge now in farming today? (00:50:55) I've just finished the one thing about Bob. He did make the step over to full-time far. I mean he worked his way hard. He worked at ibp worked at a packing house and in like he had said, you know, he had a work your way to get started into farming and you know, he did too and he made the step which is once you say rare Ed, I mean most are very rare very rare. I mean, he did a pretty good feet. I am also was born and raised in town and started farming. So that was kind of my work for my uncle's actually my uncle's did help me get Farming. I can't say that they didn't sold. I'll tell you what, you know, that's even and actually even Andy Goes Dad run a milk calling business and stuff. And did your dad ever firm on on the place you live in (00:51:45) and he was there till 64. Okay, and then we moved to town and he drove truck and in 71 when I graduated I wanted to go to be a veterinarian and it was just a matter of timing that back then you could borrow money and buy something and it inflated so things turned out differently for you. We're out of time here today Marlon boots Mahan dead heard. Thank you for being with us today. Thanks for sharing your stories. This special Main Street radio broadcast is a production of Minnesota Public Radio. Our Engineers are Cliff Bentley at the Minnesota State Fair. Our producer is Sarah Mayer. The executive producer is Kate Smith, Minnesota Public Radio reporter Mark style produced the original documentary on the Chana rambi Township farmers in 1986 and provided assistance for this broadcast. We'd like to invite You to visit the Main Street website go to Minnesota Public Radio dot org and click on Main Street. You'll be able to hear this broadcast as well as other Main Street reports the address again, Minnesota Public Radio dot org, Minnesota public radio's Main Street team consists of 13 reporters at MPR bureaus across Minnesota. I'm Rachel rebe. I'm Deborah bear coming up on sound money this week managing a mutual fund portfolio in these uncertain Times Sound money Saturday morning at 10 again Sunday afternoon at 5:00 on Minnesota Public Radio. KN o WF M 91.1 It's 66 degrees. It can o WF M 91.1 Minneapolis st. Paul Twin Cities weather today calls for sunny skies a high of 74 degrees tonight clear skies and cool temperatures down in the mid 40s for Saturday partly cloudy skies a high of 76 degrees currently in the Twin Cities. We have 66 degrees. It's one o'clock.