Kia and Kim Gamble and Don and Lois Martin

(Jim Shroyer) Good morning folks. Welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer your host and we’re in luck because it’s that time of the year that we honor the KSU Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemakers. Today we recognize Kia and Kim Gamble, and Don and Lois Martin, inductees into the 2016 class. So make sure to stay tuned after this break from our sponsors. See you in a minute.

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(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Now, let’s meet the Gamble’s. (Kia Gamble) Always had the love of the farm in my heart and it all started when I was about five years old, riding on an open cab combine with my dad. I thought I was in absolute hog heaven all day long, eating the dirt. (Eric Atkinson) Was it largely crops and livestock at that point? (Kia) Dad taught all the math and science here at Greensburg High School, and he farmed on the side, and it was just a dryland farm, wheat only. When I got into high school, I convinced Dad that we needed to plant some grain sorghum. (Eric) So you expanded in something of a burst when you took over his operation. (Kia) When we started in ’89, we started rotating in dryland corn, and sunflowers. As the irrigated side of the operation grew obviously we had the corn, and the soybeans, and the alfalfa, the wheat and that’s basically what we are still running. This coming year we’re going to be about a fourth corn, a fourth irrigated soybeans, a fourth alfalfa and a fourth wheat with a couple of circles of milo thrown in for our cowherd. (Eric) You have kept your hand in the cowherd for all of those years, mostly crops but a bit of livestock there. (Kia) A bit of livestock for all of the grass the family had or what we could rent, but grass was very hard to come by. The land that we put in CRP of my father’s has expired; we’re building a five-wire around it and expanding the cowherd. That’s my son’s side of the operation. (Eric) All told you have something along the lines of 9,000 acres, 7,300 acres roughly crops, the rest of it is pasture. You are a certified seed grower and have been for a while? (Kia) We’ve probably been doing it for 15 years. It was another way to add some value to the business and it was a way to conserve some irrigation water and that seed wheat business is huge now since we have the water banks set up down here. (Eric) Over on the crops, you have also ventured into food grade grain sorghum production at some point here? (Kia) That was about four or five years ago. That food grade grain sorghum was paying an 85-cents a bushel premium, compared to the non-food grade. The food grade grain sorghum will not yield with the conventional, but by the time you put the 85-cent a bushel premium in, you’re still left with more dollars at the end of the day. (Eric) I want to spend some time talking about, well it’s an unfortunate development but it’s a hallmark point in your careers as farmers, and that is the tornado in 2007. Your operation rests on the northern edge of Greensburg. Just either one of you, or both, talk about that day. (Kim Gamble) It was really a very typical farm day if you think back, because it was the 1st of May, so they were getting the corn planted, they were southwest of town. We knew there was supposed to be rain. (Eric) It took out virtually all of Greensburg and it took almost a direct hit on your place, did it not? (Kia) We still had a house that was salvageable. We had a roof over our heads once we got the holes plugged up where the chimneys fell off and went through. Once we got the windows boarded up, we still had a house. We still had a place to live, so we had a lot more than some of our friends and neighbors did. The worst part of it was the clean up, the absolute clean up. We had three irrigated quarters right on the north edge of Greensburg that we did not plant a crop on that year, because we could not get the debris cleaned out of the fields. (Eric) But you persevered. (Jim) After the break we’ll finish up with Kia and Kim Gamble, see you in a minute.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Now we’re going to wrap up with the Gamble’s. (Eric) After the clean up and re-establishing your farms, you had to replace a number of outbuildings and presumably a great deal of equipment. That took a while. Was it just diligence that let you get back on your feet? (Kim) Ignorance [laughs] it was a little bit of that. Adrenaline I think is most of it, because we were right in the middle of planting season, so I think that’s like you said, perseverance. One day at a time, doing what we had to do that day. (Eric) But that leads into one of the trademarks of your family, your operation. You are very devoted to civic responsibilities. Not only were you concerned and interested in getting your operation back on its feet, but the community of Greensburg proper. Both of you were immensely involved in the recovery of Greensburg. Let’s talk about some of the things that you were in fact directly involved in. (Kia) As we got recovered here, of course, I was chairman of the School Board at that time and I still am and I had all of that responsibility. There’s two people in this community, one of them is deceased now, that really made a huge difference in our outlook in our lives. After the tornado when we didn’t have any businesses left on Main Street, Scott Brown and Dale Heft called me up. They came by and they stood and they had hashed the brain child of the strip mall that we have now have on Main Street, just a block on main street, Kiowa County United. And they pressured me really really hard, that Kim and I needed to give $50,000 to that project because they were putting $50,000 in. And their attitude was if they were going to go around asking people for money they’d better put their money up first and they did. Kim and I thought about it a lot and talked about it a lot. There’s lots of other things we needed to do. There’s lots of other places we could’ve spent the money. But when it all boiled down to it, you have to lead by example if you want to be respected in the community. And we had people that gave us $1, people that gave us $5 and people that gave us $20. But that’s a huge success story. (Kim) We talk about the tornado and people talk about whether it was a blessing or not, all the good things that came out of it. We understand that it was bad. People lost their lives. People lost their life savings. They lost things they’ve spent their whole life building. But I think you also have to look at what has happened for good as a result of it. You can’t just look at the bad. And we see a lot of blessings in what we went through. (Eric) You both are very much involved in, let’s put it this way, normal things. (Kim) [laughs] Yes. (Eric) Farm Bureau, Board of Education as Ki noted, CO-OP Board, Irrigation Board and so on and so on and so on, you’re very much involved. I want to spend a brief moment on something more farm oriented. Ki, a couple of years back you were the national winner in the Sorghum Yield contest, correct? (Kia) Correct. We entered in 2003. We actually had a national championship then and we also had the Bin Buster Award for the highest yield in the nation that year. And we’ve just been entering ever since and 2008 is the only year we have placed in the top three in the nation in some irrigated category whether it be conventional-till, reduced-till, no-till. We held the world record at 213 for quite a few years and then we bettered at 217 and that only stood a year when the gentleman from Texas got in the high 240s last year. (Eric) I want to talk about your young people as well here. Kasey is farming with you. We’ll come back to him, but Katelynn is a student at Kansas State University currently, correct? (Kim) She is. She’s a major in Kinesiology. She hopes to graduate December ’17. That’ll be a semester early and then in the spring of ’18 start Chiropractic School. (Eric) Now, Kasey is presently farming with the both of you, correct? (Kim) Yes. He’s learned some things at college that he brought home and he’s trying out on dad and they don’t always agree about the best way to do things but I think he’s going to grow that side of the operation. Our biggest limitation is grass right now around here. (Eric) But Ki it has to be meaningful for you to have the next generation come back and farm this place. (Kia) Absolutely. (Kim) He’ll be the fifth generation here. (Eric) Let’s conclude by asking you what your sentiments are upon being named Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker. What the recognition means to you? (Kia) I don’t think there’s any farm family in Kansas that does what they do for recognition. They do what they do because they love it. And we’re all living the dream to get out of bed every day and go do what we enjoy doing. This is one of the, probably without a doubt, the most prestigious farm awards that can be bestowed upon anyone in the state of Kansas. (Kim) I look at it — it’s a great honor to receive this award and I look at it as going forward. I feel like this might offer a platform for us to further be ambassadors for what the farm life and real life in Kansas is like. I feel that there will be opportunities for us to promote the way we live even more. (Jim) After the break let’s meet Don and Lois Martin.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Now, let’s meet the Martin’s. (Don Martin) I graduated in 1959. I had the opportunity to rent a little bit of ground from someone before, from an aunt; I knew I was wanting a farm bad. (Lois Martin) I was from Southern Kansas, just north of Oklahoma. That’s where I lived, grew up and we had a farm, and I learned to run the implements around there. Eventually went up to Emporia, and went to college. That’s how I got acquainted with him. (Don) Before we got married we bought a farm together. The lawyer thought, “My goodness, you guys are sure of yourselves.” I guess we was, it’s lasted pretty well. (Lois) We got married and had six children. They all left and grew up and have families of their own. (Eric) Lois, did you think you’d be a farmer’s wife when you were growing up? (Lois) I don’t think I was thinking of it. I was being a teacher, was what I was at that time. I was teaching classes or information for the teachers, and that’s how I ended up somewhere- (Don) A Home Ec teacher. (Lois) As a Home Ec teacher. (Eric) But you didn’t mind giving that up to be part of the farm? (Lois) Well, I’ve used the information for 40 years now. (Eric) Don, talk about how you built up the farm over the years, then. Now you are operating around 4,500 acres, but did you plan on steadily adding on as you went along? Did you have a specific plan? (Don) After we bought that first 160 acres before we got married, I had a reputation. If folks wanted to sell their ground, they’d come and talk to me, and we’d work out some deal. Most of it first was on contracts that older farmers wanted to quit. We started farming operation with $4,500 that I’d saved though 4-H projects. The other thing was kind of unusual. I got to skin the dead calves and the steers, when the cow would die, that was my income. We could skin them and sell them at a place there in Clay Centre that would buy hides. We bought the first farm, and the farm crisis came in, interest rates went to 18%. One year later they called my loan, wouldn’t renew my loan. We was in a bad situation. (Eric) But you managed to build it back up. (Don) We started back over with some good help. (Lois) Eventually we got back. (Don) I guess we have 2,000 head in the feedlot at Washington, Kansas, and another 800 around here. (Eric) Being good neighbors has been part of your story, both of you. Working with the community on a lot of things, from Extension work, 4-H, you’ve done something called Community Sweet Corn that you made available. Tell about that. (Don) We’d always plant an acre or so of sweet corn, of course you couldn’t use that much sweet corn. We didn’t know anybody that wanted sweet corn. Tell them where the patch is. Just beat the coons to it. (Jim) After the break we’ll finish up with Don and Lois Martin.

(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm as we wrap up with the Martins. (Eric) You’re recognized for your work with the 4-H program not only on behalf of your kids but as volunteers locally and so forth. 4-H was a big part of your lives as well, was it? (Don) Lois was a 4-H agent here, a leader here for a number of years– (Lois) We are not sure, we were young, but I worked with him. (Don) She spent one year, one of the best years she ever had was up there with the County Extension Office. She was the Home Economics Agent for a year and really had a good time. She wrote interesting stories in the paper, had so many comments about the interesting stories that she would write every week in the paper. It was a highlight, I think, for– (Lois) I guess they read them. [Laughter] (Don) – her deal. (Eric) Let’s talk about your kids briefly, if we might. All six of them are very, very accomplished. (Don) Well there is, my oldest daughter is with the Kansas High School Activities Association in Topeka and she’s doing really well down there. She was a teacher for a while and coach. Then Scott is my second boy. He is a flour miller for ConAgra right now and travels all over United States. Then Angela was the next one, she is a dentist in Manhattan now and doing well. Then Steven was the next boy and he graduated K-State in flour milling and he just got transferred to Dallas, Texas, here this summer. We’re down to Melanie. She is a pediatric nurse in the Manhattan hospital down here and then of course there is Timothy, what would I do without him? I waited quite a while to get that last farmer. (Lois) He’s been a good person to work with. (Don) He is out of this world. He pretty much calls the shots today especially on the farm. I still feed the cattle and things like that but he’s pretty much in charge of the rest of the operation. (Eric) One last thing here, what it means to the two of you to be named Master Farmer, Master Farm Homemaker. What the recognition signifies to you Don? (Don) It’s unbelievable. I guess through our hard work at least that will be recognized in the state of Kansas. (Jim) Thank you for joining us on That’s My Farm and don’t forget next week about this same time, we’ll have more stories from farmers and ranchers from across the state of Kansas. See you then.

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