(Jim) Good morning folks, welcome to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer, your host. But today we’re going to be bringing you a special edition with Eric Atkinson, who’s going to be introducing you to two new 2014 inductees of the Master Farmer/ Master Farm Homemaker Class.
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(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. I’m Jim Shroyer and now we want to introduce you to the Deardens. (Eric) There was never really much doubt that Larry Dearden was destined to farm. Upon graduating from Scott Community High School in 1973 and one year of agricultural courses at Colby Community College, Larry returned to the family farm southeast of Scott City for good. His wife Millie, also a Scott County native, she earned her education degree from Fort Hays State University and not long thereafter, she and Larry married and settled into their farming life. In partnership with Larry’s three brothers, and now son Clint, the Dearden operation now consists of 3,400 crop acres with a heavy emphasis on grain sorghum and wheat. Off farm, Larry and Millie have been highly active in Scott County extension pursuits, church and farm organization leadership and faith outreach with the Gideons. Millie also served as a special education para-educator for a number of years locally. The farm is exclusively crops now but that wasn’t the case as Larry was getting his feet wet in farming as a youngster on a place that’s been in the Dearden family for well over 100 years. What was the operation like as you were growing up? Was it a mix of livestock and crop production? (Larry) Yea, originally it was a mix of…we had milk cows, hogs, and beef cows. Slowly evolved more into the beef cattle. (Eric) Millie, bring you into the picture here, you are from Colorado originally, correct? (Millie) Yea, I was born in Denver, Colorado. (Eric) So how did you end up in west central Kansas? (Millie) My Mom and Dad both had family here. My Mom grew up over in Lane County and my Dad’s family was here in Scott County. And they were out in Denver and then they moved back here in 1970. (Eric) How the operation has evolved over the years as well, for one thing, as it stands present day, you’ve moved away from the cattle all together, you and your brothers in your operation, right Larry? (Larry) Yes, well the drought kind of forced us away. Clint and I had cows together and the drought, with no grass production, we couldn’t afford to keep the cows. (Eric) The place has gravitated toward all crop though at this point? (Larry) Yes, at this point we’re all crop production. (Eric) Dryland, irrigated, a mix of both? (Larry) We’ve got a little bit of irrigated, mostly dryland, wheat-milo-fallow rotation. Some dryland corn if we have a weed problem we need to address. We custom farm for one of my uncles, he’s now passed away, so now we’re custom farming for all of us cousins. So, it keeps us busy. We farm a little over 6,000 acres. (Eric) Now Millie, you have forged a career in education all the while, right? Tell us about that. (Millie) Yes, well I started out when Clint was in grade school, just subbing at the Shallow Water School. And then I got a job working with the special ed children at Shallow Water. And then when they closed Shallow Water down I moved into the elementary school, worked with the special ed kids, and then from there about, I think we decided, eight years ago I went to the county library and that’s where I’m at now and I do all the children’s programming, the young adult librarian and adult programming. (Jim) Stay tuned for after the break. when we wrap up with Larry and Millie Dearden.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm. Now folks, let’s wrap up with Larry and Millie Dearden. (Eric) Part of your operation Larry has been stewardship as a guiding theme in what you do. (Larry) We used to be strictly conventional tillage, and a fallow-wheat rotation and we’ve adopted for the wheat -milo-fallow rotation and no till the milo into the wheat stubble. If we have moisture after milo, we can do milo again, or go summer fallow and go back to corn. It gives you some options there. We’ve adopted from the fields, doing a third, third and a third, so that you’ve got a third of the field to wheat, a third of the field to milo and a third of the field to summer fallow. That helps break up the work load of the summer fallow in the summer and then the spring crop and the wheat harvest. We’ve switched to where we use liquid fertilizer and we put it all on with the planter at planting time. It takes us a little longer to plant, but with the fertilizer below and beside the seed, it feeds the plant and not all the weeds in between. (Eric) For the longer range perspective, you’re wanting to preserve this place for obviously your son who’s in the partnership, but maybe further generations. (Larry) Oh yea. Going more and more to be able to do no till. For the milo stubble we will try to work it two to three times before we plant wheat. That just gives us a better seed bed. (Eric) Millie, ask you to speak a moment to what you and Larry both have been involved with over the years and that is, to put it in this phrase, telling the story of agriculture. (Millie )Yes, we work really closely with Kansas Farm Bureau to do “The Voice of Agriculture.” And we go to the 3i Show and the State Fair and work at the booths and promote agriculture and try to get people to know the true facts of agriculture and try to address some of the misconceptions. What we really like doing is going into the schools and working with the children. (Eric) And each of your activities civilly and in community service, the list is very long, extension work, 4-H, Gideons. Larry, you’ve been involved with that as well? (Larry) Yea, our chapter here is not very big as far as numbers, but we try to make sure that we get to all the schools and all the hospitals and nursing homes and everything to get the Bibles placed where they need to be. (Eric) And you’re both involved in something called The Friends of Lake Scott State Park, which is not far from here. (Millie) Yes, Basically what we’ve done is we’ve rented the beach house from the State Wildlife and Parks. We only charge ten percent over what our cost is. And then all the money that we make goes back into the park. (Eric) And let’s speak about your son Clint, who is farming with you now and in fact, he’s raising his family just a few hundred yards up the road from your house, your home. And talk about his involvement and how significant that is to both of you. (Larry) We insisted that he go and get his degree in something and he chose… started out in wildlife biology and finished up in just a biology degree. And then through that process of getting his education, he grew and learned that he probably wanted to come back and farm. And his wife is from Holcomb, so it’s not that far away from the other grandparents. (Millie) And he’s involved with the community. He’s on the Soil Conversation Board. And he is the President of our Executive Board for Extension Council right now. And Jessica’s a third grade teacher at the elementary school. They just went off the Young Farmer’s and Ranchers Board for the state of Kansas in Farm Bureau. (Eric) And they’ve provided you two grandchildren whom you’ve extraordinary proud of . (Millie) Yes, twins, Addison and Chase. They’ll be two years old the 24th of February. (Eric) Last thing here, what this recognition as Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker means to each of you. (Millie) It’s a pretty great recognition, especially when you didn’t grow up on a farm and you came into it, to be recognized and to have that honor. Humbling, I guess that you would say, that they picked you to do it. (Larry) Well, it’s quite an honor. For me it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work. (Eric) And well deserving. (Jim) Stay tuned, for after the break when we meet Bill and Chris Pannbacker.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s my Farm. Now, let’s meet Bill and Chris Pannbacker. (Eric) Originally Bill Pannbacker set his sights on a career in animal health and in fact headed down that path following his graduation from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine in 1972. He was a practicing veterinarian in far northwest Kansas for several years. But the family farming and ranching operation near Washington, north central Kansas lured him home. He met Chris upon his return to Washington. Chris was the local newspaper editor at the time. They eventually married and settled into their agricultural life on what is now a 2,000 acre crops and cattle operation, including a medium size commercial feedlot that serves as one of the anchors of their enterprise. Their son Jake has now joined his parents in the operation. Daughter Molly is a school teacher. Bill talks about letting go of his veterinary practice to continue the Pannbacker farming legacy in Washington County that stretches back over 140 years. (Bill) Along in 1980 my Dad was ready to retire and I said I am needing a change, why don’t a try this and I’ll try it for a couple years, if it doesn’t work out, I can find something else to do. But that was 34 years ago so I guess it kind of stuck with me. (Eric) So you came back to the family farm in 1980 a bit of the history on this operation. (Bill) My Dad’s great uncle would be my grandfather’s uncle, bought a farm in this area, just across the creek, we farm it now, in 1878. And so we’ve been here since then, in one fashion or another. (Eric) We’ll be back to the farm in just a minute, but let’s bring Chris in and talk about her background. You actually grew up in northeast Kansas and attended Washburn University is that correct? (Chris) I was born in Clay Center and my Father worked for the Union Pacific Railroad, he was a depot agent and we moved to St. Mary’s when I was…in 1957. And my parents still live there. I’m the oldest of seven. I went to Washburn, was on the debate squad for a year, was the newspaper editor. I received my Master’s from Kansas State. While I was there I was an editing graduate teaching assistant. Also worked on the Collegian. And I went to work for the Marysville Advocate in 1980. And then in 1981 I came to Washington at the daily paper. (Eric) Is that how you met then, is you came to Washington? (Chris) Yes. (Jim) Stay tuned after the break as we wrap up with the Pannbackers.
(Jim) Welcome back to That’s My Farm as we wrap up the session with Bill and Chris Pannbacker. (Eric) Bill, let’s talk about the operation present day then. Cattle and crops? Just go over the scope of the place if you would please. (Bill) When I came back, because my practice was basically a cow/calf practice, I bought a few cows and so we started a small cow herd. As the operation grew we were kind of switching a little bit from raising quite a bit of milo to raising more corn. There was an opportunity to purchase a feedlot, a small feedlot, permitted for 950 head. We ended up purchasing that feedyard, that facility in 1996. We’ll feed most of our feed grains through the cattle at the feedlot. And the other thing that might… I think is probably our niche is that because we buy our calves in the fall, and some we graze, some we’ll feed as calf feds. We don’t have the shrink of going to a sale barn, we don’t have the expense of merchandising cattle and we don’t have the three or four day adjustment on feed. And so if you pick up three or four days of efficiency at $2.50-$3.00 a day that’s what, $10 or $15 dollars a head that I can economize on, that other folks can’t. Now one of the things that I do watch to monitor our performance is focused on feedlots. It’s a compilation of sales and cost of gains of probably between two and three hundred thousand head of cattle a month. And I measure that. That’s my standard that I measure against to know that I’m…my cost of gain are in line with what industry standards are. And as a rule, we’re pretty competitive with the big outfits. (Eric) Chris talk a bit about something that you’re now involved with more or less full time, the PEO organization. What that’s about and your role in it? (Chris) Well, PEO is a Philanthropic Educational Organization, about 250,000 members in the United States and Canada. And I’ve been employed by Kansas State Chapter as the Executive Secretary since 2001. I enjoy working with the membership. I do quite a bit of convention planning. And the great thing is that we’re helping women get an education. Everything from graduating seniors to PhD candidates. Women who had their education interrupted and are going back. (Eric) Well, let’s talk in the remaining time about your two children and Chris we’ll let you do the honors initially anyway. Jake is now back and is in partnership with the two of you, is that correct? (Chris) Yes, he’s joined the operation. Jake went to K-State. He has a degree in elementary ed. We told him to get a degree and if he wanted to come home to the farm, we’d talk about it. Because we didn’t want him to feel obligated. Very involved in the community. He’s involved with 4-Her’s. Molly and Jake are 13 months to the day apart. Molly teaches 5th grade in Wamego. She was married in June of 2013 and Ty is a Riley County Police officer. (Eric) Last thing for the both of you, each of you, this recognition as Master Farmer/Master Farm Homemaker signifies to you? Let’s start with you Bill. (Bill) I guess for me it’s more of a reflection on honoring my mentors. The people who along the way have helped me. A good balance between family life and business life and community service and my parents would be my… of course, they’re our mentors. (Chris) I was amazed. It was an honor to be asked to apply. (Eric) Well, congratulations to both of you for the recognition. Again well deserved. Thank you. (Jim) Well, I hope you enjoyed today’s That’s My Farm. And don’t forget, we’ll be back next week with another issue of That’s My Farm.
Closed Captioning Brought to you by the Kansas Soybean Commission. The Soybean Checkoff, Progress Powered by Kansas Farmers.