Some people say that the family farm has gone extinct, that corporate farming has taken over and the traditions and farms of our grandparents are gone forever. However, at Kejr Family Farms that statement just isn’t true. The Kejr family not only cares about the land, but about working it together, and sharing their story with others.
“It is important for the general public to understand the hard work, the care that is put into how we take care of the ground, the commodity once we harvest it, the dedication that farmers have to raise a quality crop that can be sold to those that have a need for it in the U.S. and around the world.”
Growing and harvesting wheat is a tradition that has been in the Kejr family for 3 generations. Today Joe Kejr and his wife Geena farm with Joe’s brother Mel, nephew Nathan and his wife Rebecca, and Joe’s son, Josh; a recent K-State grad. Together they run a no-till diversified crop operation. Joe and Geena live in the house that Joe grew up in and have enjoyed raising their kids in the same place. Joe sees the operation they have now as a partnership between his family members and takes pleasure in being able to share this lifestyle with his family.
“It’s just a great experience to be able to do what you love and have your family doing it with you. The times that you are able to spend together and the memories you create are something I will always cherish,” Joe said.
Joe’s decision to return home and farm over 36 years ago was about more than being the youngest child with no older siblings wanting to carry on the operation.
“It was the things that excite you about agriculture, that what you do changes on a daily basis, you move from harvest on to the next project, planting or getting the soil ready, working on equipment, getting ready to put the next crop in the ground, the opportunity to help feed the world, and to get to make the decisions in the day to day operations that brings the reward for the effort you put in,” said Joe.
With family at the heart of the Kejr operation a favorite memory of harvest was a difficult thing to pinpoint for Joe. He loves the long hours spent together with family and friends, the adrenaline of trying to beat a storm, the quiet peace and camaraderie of supper time in the field, and getting to share the experience of harvest with younger generations. He and his crew also love the challenge of trying to be the last truck to go through the elevator each day. At the end of harvest the Kejr’s try to have a big “last supper” at the house with everyone who came to help. Joe says that this is a great time to reminisce about all the excitement harvest has brought and allow several stories to be told about the happenings that harvest brought to their family and crew this year.
However through it all, Joe said that the best part of harvest is the family time. After 36 years of harvest, much has changed but that is one thing that will always be the same. The equipment may look different and offers a healthier and cleaner environment for the workers with cabs and air conditioning. They now have bigger headers on the combines and his farming practices have adjusted with the times but at its root this family farm’s tradition will remain.
“The long days are still the same, the family involvement is still the same, but at a bigger scale, we just harvest a lot more acres than we used to,” Joe said.