Name: Scott Stedje
Involvement in Agriculture: Last year my family celebrated 100 years of farming and ranching. I am the 5th generation to farm and the 4th to live in my house. Not only do we farm cotton, wheat and corn but also run yearling cattle and cow/calf pairs in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. I live in a small Norwegian community north of Gruver, TX called Oslo. For some crazy reason my family sold land in Iowa and moved down to the wide open spaces and break out farm land; land that was said to be unfit for human life in a report sent to the President of the United States at the time.
My grandfather had two brothers and during WWII they drew straws to see which two would go to war and who would stay home- and we wonder why they were called the greatest generation. My grandfather drew short straw and he stayed as the other two went to war. One brother was KIA in war and the other came back after it was over.
Another crazy idea they had was to drill water wells and irrigate farm. So this is why I spend hours working on sprinklers and irrigation motors.
What is Your Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: This is a loaded question because we all know there are discomforts in agriculture. Droughts, bug infestations, and the rising cost of equipment and inputs are just part of the game. Last year we had 3.29 inches of moisture and this year we have had .02. So I am not sure if I have had my most difficult moment, Lord I HOPE SO. 2011 will go down as the worst year farming since my great-great grandfather Stedje. We have no dryland crop, the pasture country never turned green and we could not keep irrigated crops from burning up from heat and wind. We all lost a lot of equity and banks started using a 4 letter word that is a little longer than four, Liquidity. But just like every other farmer, we pray for moisture and prepare to give them hell in 2012.
Another difficult moment was I had to take over the farm when I was a Jr. in college. My father made me pay for my own college so that means I was broke just like 90% of all other college students. The day before he passed away, December 23, I had given plasma to have enough money to go to penny beer. Boy is college rough. A week later, I remember sitting down and paying end of year bills. I broke down and cried like a little girl because I have never seen numbers that used that many commas. My family pushed me to graduate and 1 ½ years, later my uncle came up and handed me a check to pay off student loans. He said as he gave me the check “This is what our family does, your father would have paid off your college just as his father did when he graduated.
What has been you most joyous moment in Agriculture: I find joy when I wake up and look across the open prairie and see a momma cow drop a calf out; to smell the moisture in the air and know God is sending rain; to walk out into my field and pick sweet corn for super. Things move a heck of a lot faster now, but also a heck of a lot slower than other parts of the country. In the winter 2007/2008 we had 4 inch rain and then a foot of snow, good wet snow and stayed white till spring. I hit my first “home run” that summer; we averaged 66 bushels on dryland and 74 on irrigated. The original Stedje section 93, a dryland farm, did 83 bushels across the entire 640 acres. It was a great feeling knowing I was feeding more people than I ever had.
Name: Thomas Epting Age: 26
What is your involvement in agriculture: I teach agriculture science in a far West Texas town where each day seems to move at a pace that reminds me to enjoy God’s gifts and blessings.
I have been involved in some form of agriculture my entire life. I was fortunate enough to be raised on a 365 acre piece of land that has been in my family for more than 150 years and has been used for production agriculture the entire time. I have seen the area around my families land turn from fields of grain and pastures full of fat calves running around, into gated communities, apartment complexes and one acre ʺranchettsʺ.
I decided while in high school to become an agriculture science teacher because I understand that the majority of the population has little to no knowledge of where their food and fiber come from and I want them to! My mission is to give students the gift of knowledge about agriculture, and also to become great leaders who work hard, are ethical, fair, and honest in their life.
What has been your most difficult moment in agriculture: My most difficult moment in agriculture has been the death of my mom in August of 2002. I lost someone who was very important to me. After she passed away, I kept looking back at my past and I was angry. In my mind, I was at a stock show every time I got bad news about my mom and her fight with a horrible disease. From the time she got sick until she died, I felt like if I hadn’t been at a stock show, I could have been helping her fight. So I lost my passion for agriculture and what I was doing in it, I lost my goals. But with the support of my family and with God, I was eventually able to pick myslef up and get back into the way of life that I knew I was meant to live, and the way of life I had dreamed of.
What is your most joyous moment in agriculture: Like a lot of others, I have experienced several joyous moments in agriculture. One is know that I help provide opportunities for students to learn about the greatest industry of all and expressing that it is a great way to live. Others included knowing that every morning when I wake up, drink my coffee and listen to the sounds that God gives us, I am going to have a great day. The experiences in agriculture have taught me to work efficently, be independent and to live my life so the preacher doesnt have to lie at my funeral.
Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strenghten you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.