Our Friends in the Field: Inside the Life

Extending farm’s legacy “more exciting than seven dollar corn!”

“Hopefully a guy getting into farming has a big dream,” says fourth-generation farmer Charlie Kollasch of Algona, IA. He adds, “And hopefully that dream isn’t about becoming independently wealthy.” Charlie, a lifelong Iowan, considers patience his most important farming lesson.

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The benefits of farming with a big little company

If you spent a day with Bill Maczuk at his farm in New Haven, MO, you’d probably say he worked really hard at his job. He’d disagree with you. “It’s not really a job—you live it. There’s never been a single morning when I’ve woken up and said, ‘Oh man, I’m really dreading all that work.’” Sounds like a man who really loves what he does. Besides, he says, “I’m too independent to work for someone else.”

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3rd-generation Hawkeye not one to dwell on the rearview mirror

In his 41 years of farming, the most valuable—and hardest—lesson that third-generation farmer Roy Plagge has learned is to accept change. “You can’t be stuck in your ways, because the only thing that’s for sure is that there’ll always be change, and looking in the rearview mirror doesn’t do anybody any good.”

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The abiding value of putting in the hours and keeping good people around you

“I always knew I wanted to farm,” declares farmer Stephen Sork, 45, from his southern Illinois farm. The third-generation grower has been following his dream “since I was old enough to drive,” and looks forward to one day passing it on to his children. When he does, he’ll have a lot of accumulated wisdom to pass along; wisdom that he learned from his predecessors: “You’ve got to save through the good times. You’ve got to put a little back.”

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For lifelong farmer, succession more than business—it’s continuing a way of life

In the fall, Merlyn Hegland spends more than 700 hours in his combine, harvesting fields in central Iowa. Catch him at the right time and you might find one of his six grandchildren riding with him.

While the technology may have advanced over the years, the experience itself is similar to what Merlyn enjoyed as a boy. Some of his earliest memories involve riding on a tractor with his father, who grew up on a farm in Norway.

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