It has been a rough few years for farmers in western Kansas. Drought has taken its toll on many farmers,
Mike farms with his son, Tanner. They have a diversified crop operation just outside of Colby, where dry land wheat is the main crop. Although his parents encouraged Tanner to get a degree beyond his agriculture background, after he missed his first wheat harvest because of school, he knew he never wanted to miss one again.
Now back at the farm, Tanner and his wife Carla have joined the family operation and added land of their own. While Mike calls himself a 1st generation farmer because he took over the operation from his father-in-law, Tanner is the 6th generation in his family to farm.
“I learned to drive a tractor and combine long before a truck, and I learned to drive a truck when I was 9,” Tanner said.
If Kansas wheat harvest can be described in one word, Tanner says it is “tradition.” For the Brown family, wheat harvest traditions include meals in the field, with special dishes the entire family looks forward to each year. It is the joy and tradition of wheat harvest that brought Tanner back to the farm and motivates him to keep going even through the tough years.
“No matter if it is a good year or a bad year, I am truly enjoying the work that I am doing,” he said.
On July 9, 2013, the 25 billionth bushel of wheat produced in Kansas in the last 100 years was collected at the Brown’s farm. The entire harvest crew witnessed the event; Mike said he could not be more honored to be the host.
“Wheat has always had a special place in Mike’s heart,” said wife Jeanene.
Mike and Tanner are farmers because it is what they love, what they are passionate about, and is a lifestyle that has been passed down through their family for generations. Through the successful years and the trying ones, these two farmers will continue to run their operation with the same perseverance that all Kansas farmers have exerted in order to reach the feat of producing 25 billion bushels of wheat.
The 25 billionth bushel of wheat will be on display at the Kansas State Fair in Hutchinson, in honor of the Fair’s 100th year. 25 billion bushels would yield s more than 1 trillion commercial loaves of bread; that’s enough for each person on earth to have about 142 loaves of bread.