EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final installment in the 2017-18 series following a year in the life of a typical Ohio farm family. For the last year we followed the progress of the Delaware County farm family Stephanie and Zachary Taylor as they went through spring planting, the growing season, harvest and planning for the next year. This month: The heart of a farmer.
RADNOR — Not everyone has the heart to be a farmer, especially with so many factors playing against you. However, Zachary Taylor of Taylor Farms finds a way to push through.
“You’re always challenged, doing what I do,” Taylor said. “Part of that is meeting the challenges and exceeding them. There’s odds everywhere you look, whether it’s weather, markets, or finances — and you just got to put your head down and push through it.”
After a year of following the Taylor family through a typical year on the farm, planting season has come around again.
In March and April Taylor readied all of the tractors, planters and other machinery for planting. This year, they will plant less corn then last year, with the ratio at one-third corn and two-third soybeans.
“We had 150 more acres of corn [last year] than we’re going to have this year,” Taylor said. He added that they were fortunate to yield the crop they did for as late as they planted.
“If weather gets fit here next week, we can have planting wrapped up in 10 to 14 days, pretty easily, with no major hurdles,” Taylor said. “Get this crop off to a good start and hope to God that everything goes pretty smooth.”
Taylor finished hauling grain in early March, and now he is tending to his seed customers, who are ready to have seed delivered or are ready to pick it up. “It’s going to get real, real quick,” Taylor said, referring to his seed business.
The end of a hectic year
He described this past year as “hectic.”
“We had a lot of things against us last year,” Taylor said. One of the biggest challenges was machinery. Last spring Taylor was short a tractor and was waiting on the tractor to be delivered while other farmers had already started planting.
“It was warm, the ground was good. We were fit and ready and couldn’t go nowhere,” Taylor said. When they finally received the tractor, it broke. They then readied another tractor, and it broke. “We were constantly just trying to keep stuff together.”
But that luckily turned out in their favor, as most farmers had to plant twice last spring.
“When everybody else was planting for the second time, we were finishing our first,” said Taylor.
A bountiful harvest
He said that the greatest success from last year were yields.
“We had a harvest that we never thought that we were going to have when we finished planting on June 13,” Taylor said, explaining that they had a bountiful harvest. “If you’d told me on June 13 of last year that we were going to shell 200 plus bushel corn and cut 55 bushels (per acre) beans, I would have told you, you were full of it.”
Taylor said that for corn, this last harvest was the best they have ever had. He added that most of the soybeans were above average, too. He admits that the beans could have been better, but they were planted late.
However, prices weren’t great.
“John F. Kennedy said it years ago: the farmer’s the only one out there who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale and then pays the trucking both ways,” said Taylor. “And he’s about right.”
The Taylor girls
Taylor’s 6-year-old daughter, Shelby, received her two show pigs in April, which she will take to open shows this summer. Her first official show with pigs was in Louisville last summer.
She has also participated in the county fair shows for three years now. In addition to her pigs, Shelby has a miniature Hereford cow and two goats. “She loves pigs. She likes helping me in the barn,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s wife, Stephanie, has had a couple of 4-H meetings and her group of Cloverbuds has grown this year. The Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Program is for youth 5 to 8 years of age, of which Stephanie is a leader.
Taylor said that Stephanie gardens every year and this year they have added a small greenhouse to the garden. The location where she gardens is the same spot where Taylor’s great grandfather used to garden. Stephanie grows a wide variety of vegetables and already has pumpkins planted.
Life of a farmer
Although the Taylor’s had a successful harvest after a hectic year, he talked about what he would do if that wasn’t the case.
“There’s very few of us [farmers] out here who would continue to do this at a loss, just for the fun of it,” Taylor said. “I would like to think that if it came down to it and we had no money and I was losing money day by day, I’d still keep doing it. Maybe that’s called stupidity, or maybe it’s called love.”
This summer, look for an update on the Zachary Taylor farm family.