Farm Families of the Year 2010, Jeff and Julie More: The Be Your-Own-Boss, family togetherness lifestyle

 When asked her favorite thing about the farming life, 11-year-old Jodi More didn’t hesitate, “You get to get out and do whatever you want and you are your own boss.”

 So, when Grandpa Alvis drives up to the house in the spring and says, “Let’s go out and pick up rocks!” Jodi finds herself experiencing more and more enthusiasm for these mundane chores that all add up to the well-run farm operation that three generations of her family actively take part in. Jodi, her two brothers and two sisters represent the fourth generation working the place in Mapleton, near Mankato, where the Mores raise Hereford cattle, corn and soybeans. And a little wheat for the straw, to feed the cattle.

 Julie echoes her daughters comment: “My husband and I both love the freedom (of farming), the big accomplishment, being your own boss. There is a lot of pride that goes into it. It is what you can build for yourself, what you can do, how far you have come since you started—you can see it everyday when you look out the window at the fields or walk into the shop.”

 Jodi has had four role models among her siblings, and right now, her older sister Jessica, provides a great example of total enthusiasm for the More family operation. At 17, Jessica is going into her senior year at St. Clair High School.

 “She’s Jeff’s right hand man helping with moving grain trucks, cleaning the bins, baling. She’s a jack of all trades,” said Julie. “She’d like to go into school to be a vet assistant.”

 Asked what he loves about farming, Jeff talks about what it means to be a family responsible for the care of animals and the raising of crops.

 “Just like any farm family, we’re always working together, doing chores, putting in crops, hauling the grain,” said Jeff. “We work together, eat together. You are pretty close to your family because you depend on each other for so much.”

 Both of Julie and Jeff’s sons have become trained diesel mechanics, which comes in very handy during planting and harvesting. Justin, 20, just finished John Deere Tech School in Calmar, Iowa, and has a job with John Deere implement in Truman, and Josh, 22, works at Arnold Implement in North Mankato.

 Jeff and Julie’s oldest, Jennifer, is a nurse working at Mason City Hospital, in Mason City, Iowa. Recently married, she and her husband pitch in on the farm when they come home.

 Asked what might surprise the average non-farmer about farming, Julie said that she doesn’t believe people appreciate either the amount of work or the amount of investment of time and money that’s tied up in a well-run farm.

 “The machinery, the seed cost, the chemicals—people don’t really understand what is invested in the grain and raising the cattle,” Julie said.

“One piece of machinery costs $150,000 dollars. We have to borrow that and hope the crop is good. Some of this corn might cost $200 dollars a bag. Even the crop insurance—it isn’t different from taking out insurance on your home—people may not realize we have to take that out on top of everything else. There’s the liability in case accidents happen to other people on our land. They don’t realize all this extra. It’s a big eye opener for a lot of people—the cost for putting everything in and taking it out.”

 Despite the uncertainties and the steep investment, Jeff and Julie and their five kids wouldn’t trade the farming life for any other. They are one of 73 families that were honored on August 5 at FarmFest, as a University of Minnesota Extension Service Farm Family of the Year for 2010. They have been chosen to represent the farmers of Blue Earth County. We are also proud that they represent the membership of Minnesota Corn Growers Association, a 6,000-member grassroots commodity organization.

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