Carnival of Genealogy – Our Family Business Was a Wheat and Dairy Farm

My first thought when I read the  Carnival of Genealogy Challenge for August was “we didn’t have a family business, we had a farm…”

And then I re-thought, realizing that a farm always was (and still is, no matter the size) a business also, though some might say that  farming is more of a calling than a career, and for those of us who grew up on a farm, it’s more a part of our hearts than most brick or mortar businesses could ever be.

One of the sayings that I grew up hearing was “You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy.” (Same goes for many of us farm girls, too!)

When my oldest brother was just a toddler, our folks bought the farm where dad grew up with his seven (living) brothers and sisters, and dad’s parent’s, Elmer and Maud (McGinnis) Stocking.  My grandparents moved to the nearby town of Mayfield, Kansas with their youngest children and my grandfather Elmer continued his work as a mail carrier until his untimely early death from a heart attack.

Mom, Dad, and my brother Fred moved back to the Mayfield area from Arkansas City (“Ark City”) after they purchased the farm.  All of this happened before I was born, or as my brother Harold, Jr. “Fred” would say “before you were even a twinkle in Dad’s eye.”

Farmers then, and farmers now, wear many hats.  They must be amateur weathermen/women, watching the weather with an eye to scheduling their work.  Their planning, planting, fertilizing, field work, harvesting, and even praying for rain circles around what the farm land needs and when it needs it.

Farmers also need to be bookkeepers, grain marketers, have the ability to supervise their family as workers, as well hired hands if they have some, and during the summer, they often have to put in 60 to 80 hour weeks as well.  It wasn’t just sun up till sun down at our farm, it was before the sun came up till the job got done, especially during harvest.

I have always felt that I was one of the luckiest kids in the world, growing up on my folk’s wheat and dairy farm, with 160 acres running room for a back yard!  I grew up collecting tadpoles from the buffalo wallows in the pasture (yes, I said buffalo wallows!), chasing crawdads along the creek, roping calves I wasn’t supposed to, and dodging cow pies in the pasture while playing cowboys and Indians, or Yankees and Confederate soldiers with my nephews, who were not much younger than I was.

I also learned to drive a tractor, an old blue Chevy farm truck with a stick shift that my mom nicknamed “WobbleKnees,” and milk a cow by hand as well as with a milking machine.

I was responsible for watering the chickens, gathering the eggs, spoiling our purebred collie puppies and making sure the cats and dogs had food and water.

I loved helping feed the baby calves, and always, always fell in love with one or two each year, wishing they could be my very own pet.  I learned to back up straight (after I learned to drive a stick) by backing several hundred feet along a lane, and dumping a half-full milk can of water (about 70 pounds if they were full!) into the calves’ water tank to make sure they had enough water.

I helped hoe the garden, and helped preserve its bounty, enjoying the fresh tasting frozen sweet corn and the better than store-bought canned green beans all winter.

And, lucky me, with my work-at-home folks, I usually either had both my parents home with me, or I was in the field where they were working!

I loved growing up on the farm!



17 Responses to “Carnival of Genealogy – Our Family Business Was a Wheat and Dairy Farm”

  • My newly discovered great, great, uncle owned the Summit Fuel and Feed Store here in Denver. I guess he supplied the energy for both types of transportation at the beginning of the twentieth century in Colorado.

    • He would have, at that, Chuck! What an interesting discovery you’ve made! I haven’t always searched for occupations, as many of my ancestors have been listed as farmers, but my gr-grandmother did demo sewing machines as a young woman!

  • Enjoyed reading about your childhood, it sounds wonderful. In our county, the farmers are definitely businessmen.

    • Thank you, Carol! I’ve gotten sidetracked from doing much writing lately, just trying to keep up with two houses, two yards, helping Mom, and doing some volunteer work for the gen/hist society! I would be enjoying this summer so much more if it weren’t dangerously hot out here right now! I love being outside!

      I need to get back to writing more! I sure miss it, and I sure do love living vicariously about your travels and more at

      And yes, the farmers are definitely even more of business owners than when my dad was young, not to denigrate my dad. He was a successful farmer, and I should have mentioned he also took my brothers and went custom cutting for a couple of months each summer. Helped my brother’s bottom line for college!

      • Custom cutting, yep, business men! Another fascinating piece of your family history. Glad you carved out a small hunk of time to write this submission. I mean, really, the farmers were and continue to be the backbones of our country.

        • Thank you! I’ve thought of several more things I should write and add to this. Having been immersed in farm life as a kid, and many of my early class mates’s parents were also farmers, I tend to forget that now, after 50 years, that segment of the population, which was once more than half, is now around 2 to 3%. Amazing, really, but technology is to thank or to blame, depending of course on your outlook.

          That part of my family life changed radically when my dad passed away shortly before I turned 13. The cattle were sold and my mom went to school to become a beautician and then purchased a small beauty shop. My brother began farming then, and a year later, the other one took it over instead.

  • Of course farming is business, I knew that. But I didn’t realize all the many aspects involved in it until reading your post. What an eye opener for me! Thank you for sharing the story of your family farm and for participating in the COG. The next time I drive by a farm I’ll think about that family a little differently. Thank you for that!

    • Thank you for the kind words, Jasia! I so appreciate it! I love being part of the Carnival, and always plan to, but sometimes procrastinate just a little too long, and nearly did this time! There was so much more going on on our farm that I didn’t even touch on, but hopefully can another time!

      There are huge corporate farms now, and I imagine those are much more ‘big business’ but most smaller family farms will be much like ours in that the family loves their life, their land, and their animals very much!

      Thank you, Jasia, for hosting the Carnival!!

  • […] Stocking Kline presents Carnival of Genealogy – Our Family Business Was a Wheat and Dairy Farm posted at Family Tree Writer, saying, “Our family farm might have been a family business, but […]

  • What a lot of work farming is! My father grew up on a farm but his father died long before I was born so I was never able to experience time on a farm, something I so very much regret. I have to say I’m just a little envious of you…. And you sure grew up with a strong work ethic!

    • Farming is a lot of work. I was luckier than some, having less responsibilities than some I knew, and having more than others that I knew. I honestly felt sorry for kids who had postage stamp sized back yards and lived in town!

      I think it would be wonderful if kids today could experience what we did growing up in the country! Thank you for ‘stopping by’ to chat!

  • Joan:

    being a farm girl thru and thru, your story of your parents farm really hit home. Truly, a business. My mom used to say, “You know I would never go to Las Vegas and gamble $50,000-$100,000, but I do it every year on the farm — what with the weather, prices, and vagarities of life.” Thanks for a good read.

    • Joan, my mom used to say something very similar! She usually referenced gambling as being a sin, then added that farmers were the biggest gamblers of all. Later in life, she got where she loved going to Las Vegas for bowling tournaments so she could play the ‘one-armed bandits.’ She still likes doing that, just not as easy to take her to do it, now, though we really only have to drive about 15 miles to the new Kansas Star casino.

      Thank you for the kind words!

  • I agree – farms are very much a family business! Tons of work for the whole family.

  • Sherry,
    What a great story — I would love to ask for some advice about getting kids interested in family trees and tracing the occupations of previous generations! Would you mind emailing me? Thanks again.

    • I would be happy to e-mail you! I am fortunate in that my two granddaughters are both interested in family history, one quite a lot, actually. I tell them stories of their ancestors.

      I suppose it all began with us going to the cemetery over Memorial Day weekend to place flowers, and them both wanting to know “who are those people,” and so as we placed the flowers on the graves, I tried to tell them who they were. Example: “Here is your great-great-great grandmother Maggie McGinnis! When she was just a little schoolgirl, just a little older than you are now, living near Springfield, Illinois, her class sang songs for him, so she got to meet and sing for Abraham Lincoln while he was campaigning for President!” This is a great, true story, and one that my certainly got my granddaughter’s attention as she had read about Lincoln in her textbooks, and being half African-American, she knew that he had freed the slaves, too, so to find out that some of her family had met him was really special to her!

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