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CCFB News» January 2019

Downwind"Family Legacy"

01/01/2019 @ 9:00 am | By Bob Rohrer, CAE, FBCM, Manager


When I was young, I remember my grandfather working constantly, farming from sunup to sundown. So why did he take time off during his busiest season to be the first person to ever take me, his young grandson, fishing? Equipped with a Bamboo pole and worms, I remember catching two massive 5-inch bluegills.


Thank you, Grandpa! I have loved fishing ever since. I wonder if he realized the impact it made on his grandson. Now, 50 years later, I get it. A grandfather’s “family” legacy?


When my kids were younger, their grandfather (my Dad, the Farmer) created and held a tractor driving competition on the farm. Now in their 20s, my kids still remember the experience with great fondness and argue about who won the competition and the title of “Best Tractor Driving Grandchild”. A grandfather’s “family” legacy?


In December, my daughter sent me text message asking if I thought I’d have time or would want to make a “tyke tower” for my grandson Evan. It is a good thing she sent me a photo of a “tyke tower” because I had never heard of such a thing. Basically, it is an enclosed stepstool so that a young child can stand at counter level safely while serving as “mama’s little helper”. (Apparently, a child standing on a chair at the kitchen counter is no longer an approved helper device.)


  It took me less than 5 seconds to respond, “Of course!”


Examining the tower photo my daughter sent, I estimated dimensions, sketched a plan, picked up some pine lumber and hardware, cut and assembled the tower, sanded and coated it with polyurethane, all in 3 days. Why can’t I be that efficient and driven by the other numerous projects on my list? A grandfather’s “family” legacy?


Family and legacy…what’s carried from generation to generation? Love of the soil? Work ethic? Family relationships? Nature and the outdoors? Independence?


Farming is truly a family legacy with unique traditions and lifestyles that continue today. Statistically, well over 90% (I’ve seen numbers published as high as 97%) of all farming operations in the United States are family-based. Unfortunately, the unpredictable farm economy over the years has caused some young people not to return to farming as their profession, eroding the number of farmers in our country.


The fact that today’s farms are mostly family-based surprises people. Many farms are incorporated due to multi-family involvement, liability protection, tax structure, and other small business reasons while maintaining family-based control, direction, management, labor and involvement (and legacy).


I was thinking about family and farm legacy when I recently attended a Farm Bureau colleague’s funeral. During the service, so many wonderful stories were shared that demonstrated the impact that Bruce had within the Farm Bureau organization, the local farming community, and on his family. During the service, in a unique moment of the ceremony, time was taken to baptize Bruce’s newly born grandson. From sorrow and mourning of the loss of Bruce, came the uplifting celebration of another generation. A grandfather’s “family” legacy.


Across farm country, grandparents, fathers, and mothers continue their farming legacy through intergenerational family connections, traditions, stories, and by sharing farming responsibilities with sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, grandsons and granddaughters. Many times, a farm is held within the family for centuries, becoming an important part of the family legacy.


My family still farms the land that my grandfather and great grandfather farmed. While I am not a farmer and my kids don’t farm, farm visits and carrying on the traditions and values and stories of family and the farm will help ensure the Rohrer family legacy of farming does not need to end.


For Evan’s first birthday, as grandparents, we tried to implant early “farm legacy” through farm books and farm toys (not real subtle). Now, I’m pretty sure my grandson wants a bamboo fishing pole for his 2nd birthday. I believe I can find time to help him catch a bluegill. A grandfather’s family legacy!

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