EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a 12-part series following a year in the life of a typical Ohio farm family. Each month we will visit and report on the progress of the Delaware County farm family Stephanie and Zachary Taylor as they go through spring planting, the growing season, harvest and planning for the next year. This month: July proves to be a busy and varied month on the farm.
RADNOR —The life of a farmer never slows down.
Even in the middle part of the summer when fields are full, farmers like Zachary Taylor of Delaware County are spending their time juggling their lives and livelihood. For July alone, the Taylors had their trip to Kentucky, a Young Ag Professionals meeting, an upcoming trip to Indiana for training (Zachary has a second job as a seed dealer which he’s done for Beck’s Hybrids for almost 10 years) and that doesn’t even factor in the day-to-day farm needs.
April and May were not great months for a number of reasons, but in June, things started to look up. That brings the family just past the halfway point of the 2017 year, July, a good time to reflect and move forward.
Kentucky pig show
On July 3, Taylor, his wife, Stephanie, and their daughter, Shelby, were in Louisville, Kentucky for the National Junior Swine Association Summer Spectacular.
“With Rosie, which is the girl, I got 9th Place and Dozer, the boy, I got a ribbon,” Shelby said from her dad’s lap. The event was Shelby’s first time showing hogs.
“This is the only way technically that she can show hogs since she’s only 6,” Taylor said. As a fifth generation farmer, he tries to respond to and encourage any interests his daughter may have in a future in agriculture. “She keeps saying she’s going to be a farmer like daddy and nothing would please me more.”
A look at July
Thanks to weather and other issues, some of the year’s planting got off to a late start. “Planting season wasn’t what we anticipated,” said Taylor. “We went straight from planting beans to corn to cutting wheat, basically. Without much of a break in between.” In keeping with the theme of the season, things not going according to plan is just par for the course.
“The wheat got finished up on the 9th of July, the double crops got planted on July 11 — which I know that’s a tick on the late side. But we already had the beans designated for that area,” Taylor said. From there, the plan is to cut wheat and do some hauling, two primary things being last year’s grain and manure.
Aside from a wetter and warmer start to the summer, “July is busy but not hateful,” said Taylor. “For what it’s worth, I’m happy.”
Stephanie Taylor and family life on the farm
Stephanie Taylor works at Grady Memorial Hospital in nearby Delaware, where she does statistical data and administrative work for the Director of Surgery and the Administrative Manager of Surgery. She is there part-time, two to three days a week and has had the job for just over 12 years.
Although she attended Columbus State Community College for Business Management, she does have experience and a family background in farming. “I’m a 4-H advisor and I sit on two committees for the Delaware County Fair,” she said. She also helps with some of the farm-specific duties such as bailing hay, but the hospital job helps the family with health insurance.
“I was born and raised around farming,” she said. “So it’s something I’ve always known.” Part of the Taylors’ 2,200-plus acres consists of farmland that was Stephanie’s grandparents’ land; however, her grandfather has since passed away. Her parents have retired, her father from Honda and her mother from her photography business.
As with any relationship, being married to a farmer has its stresses. “It’s kind of like some of the doctors that I work with that are on call,” she said. “Sometimes it’s 10 at night, sometimes it’s two in the morning. You just never know.
“It’s our normal. I don’t know any other life or lifestyle I’d want to live,” she added. The couple’s passion for the life of farming is evident in all aspects of their conversation. For them, it’s not a hobby or something for fun, it’s their lives every day, all day.
“You got to put everything into it. Your heart and soul, blood, sweat and tears. All of it,” Zachary Taylor said. “You got to make sure you got a good partner.” Understanding the circumstances of farm life isn’t always easy. But the Taylors know in order to make any good system work, everyone has to do their part.
On the days Stephanie Taylor doesn’t work in Delaware, she makes lunch and dinner and on workdays, she does just dinner. “I’m a planner, I plan stuff way far out in advance,” she said. “Even for dinners, I do a lot of meal prep.” She tries to save and reuse as much as possible so that there isn’t any waste. The frugality and planning is a common theme that runs through their lives.
Still this year, the family is going on a six-day trip to Custer, South Dakota. “I planned the cabin in Custer nine months ago and kind of went from there,” she said. “I schedule out what we can do in a day.” Her goal always being to make the most of what time they can get away.
The second half of the year
In the coming few months, the Taylors will be looking toward the harvest with excitement and trepidation. The season always presents its challenges, but this time, Taylor is ending the summer short-handed. “We lost our hired man, so that’ll make things a little tougher,” Taylor said. But his focus is on the next things on his list. “We’ll be preparing for harvest, the grain system, combine, readying for hogs,” Zachary Taylor said. “August isn’t quite as hectic, but it’s busy.”
There is also hay to be made, field scouting, disease and bug pressure and, of course, beginning the planning for the next year. Taylor looks at it simply as the life of a farmer and that’s the only thing he wants to be doing.
Next month: Harvest preparations.
Rural Life Today writer Michael Williamson can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.