Farm Horizons, November 2010

McLeod Farm Family of the Year: Jonathon and Debbie Posusta

By Starrla Cray
Staff Writer

Just like the wheels on their tractors, life at the Posusta farm west of Lester Prairie is constantly in motion.

Jonathon and Debbie, along with Derek, 13, and Jenaya, 11, admit that farming can be a bumpy ride, but they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“I was born wanting to farm,” Jonathon said. “I always enjoyed helping Dad, and always felt that’s what I wanted to do.”

The Posusta farm has been in Jonathon’s family since 1901, and someday, Derek and Jenaya hope to continue the family tradition.

Derek enjoys doing “just about anything Dad needs help with,” from picking rocks in fields and learning to drive a tractor to sweeping out sheds and mowing the lawn.

“I consider it fun,” Derek said. “I just like doing the work on the farm because you always have something to do.”

Jenaya loves the space and freedom that country life offers. One of her jobs is to clean and pressure wash the tractors.

“They’re excellent helpers,” Debbie said.

Jenaya is learning to play piano and clarinet, Derek enjoys playing guitar, and both children are involved in the Glencoe Jr. Pioneers 4-H Club. They grew a vegetable garden this summer for the first time, which Derek said involved “weeding and eating.”

Dirt biking, four-wheeling, and fixing up an old barn are also a few favorite pastimes.

With creative, constructive opportunities for fun, the word “bored” isn’t used in the Posusta vocabulary.

“They don’t have X Box, video games, or cell phones,” Debbie said.

Farming is a family tradition

Debbie and Jonathon are thankful to be able to raise their family in the country.

Debbie grew up in town in Lester Prairie, but she quickly embraced farm life once she met Jonathon.

Jonathon has always known that farming was his career of choice. He took over the farm from his father, and gradually purchased additional land from neighbors in the area.

When Derek and Jenaya were little, Debbie remembers taking them in the tractors with their car seats. That “fieldwork-for-the-whole-family” mentality hasn’t changed a bit throughout the years.

“Jenaya usually comes with me, and Derek stays with dad,” Debbie said. “It’s a whole family effort.”

“I do my homework in the tractor,” Jenaya said.

Each season on the Posusta farm invites a fresh set of challenges and opportunities.

“There’s less stress in the wintertime, but spring is probably my favorite,” Jonathon said. “Just the start of a new season, I’m always optimistic and antsy to get out there.”

Winters are usually spent planning and researching for spring, while the rest of the year is busy in the fields. In addition to farm work, Debbie also works full time as a buyer/planner at Miller Manufacturing in Glencoe.

With putting up a new shed this summer, and plans to build a new house next summer, the Posusta household has been especially busy lately.

“It seems like there’s always something going on,” Jonathon said.

Today’s farming challenges

Keeping up with farming-related technology is a constant challenge. Jonathon’s combine has yield mapping, but he hasn’t invested in auto steer yet. Selecting the best seeds is also an ever-changing job.

“There’s getting to be so many choices,” Jonathon said, explaining that the type of seed can have a dramatic impact on yields.

“You don’t always get it right, but you try to minimize the mistakes,” he said.

Another challenge in farming is increasingly strict government regulations. A proposed bill from the Environmental Protection Agency, for example, aims to tighten standards on the amount of dust kicked up by American farms.

“It’s unrealistic. Dust is a natural part of farming,” Jonathon said. “You hope common sense comes into play somewhere.”

“They’re so out of touch with where their food’s coming from,” Debbie added.

The government’s role in farming is a universal issue, according to Jonathon.

“Livestock farmers, crop farmers. . . they’ve all got the same challenges ahead,” he said.

People need to know that farmers care for the environment and are good stewards of the natural resources they use, Debbie said.

“As more and more people are removed from the farm, the public having an understanding of what we do and how we do it is going to be even more important,” Jonathon added.

The Posustas are proud of their rural way of life, and they hope their contribution to America’s families will continue long into the future.

Recognized at Farmfest 2010

As McLeod County’s 2010 Farm Family of the Year, the Posustas were honored at Farmfest (located at the Gilfillan Estate in Redwood County) in August.

They were one of 73 families in Minnesota to be recognized at the ceremony.

The Farm Family Recognition Program has existed for more than two decades, and is sponsored and coordinated by the University of Minnesota Extension, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine.

All of the honored farm families have made significant contributions to Minnesota agriculture and their communities, according to the University of Minnesota Extension website.

The Posustas farm 1,200 acres of soybeans and corn. Jonathon has been involved in the Corn Growers and Soybean Growers associations at the county and state levels, and the Posustas are members of Holy Family Catholic Church in Silver Lake.

In Carver County, the Farm Family of the Year was Andy and Jodene Stuewe of Hamburg. Meeker County’s farm family for 2010 was the Buer family of Grove City.

To learn more about the Farm Family Recognition Program, or to see the full list of families chosen in 2010, go to http://mnfarmfamilies.cfans.umn.edu.

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