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Born to farmPosted Wednesday, May 11, 2011, at 8:22 AM
According to his baby book, he was less than a month old when he took his first tractor ride. Inside the quiet cab, he snuggled on his mother's lap as his father plowed the farm garden.
By the time he was 9-months old, he would yell "Dada" anytime a green tractor drove by his home out in the country. The red ones, he knew, belonged to another neighbor.
By the time, he was two, the little farmer's interests were clear. He could sit on his parent's lap for hours looking at magazines and pointing out and naming each farm implement, ranging from a forage harvester to a cotton picker.
He was just 3-years-old when he calmly explained to his city grandma the difference between a tractor and a combine. Both his grandma's knees creaked when they got on and off the floor to "play farm" with the little operator, who had a large farm setup, consisting of plastic and lego cows, a few barns and two silos.
He was four when he announced to his pre-school teacher that his favorite colors were "John Deere green and John Deere yellow." She said it was the first time she had a student be quite so "specific." His favorite animal, he announced, was a cow.
He could and would ride for hours beside his father on a tractor, often "helping" by reciting bits of knowledge he had gleaned from watching hours of training videos, included with the latest farm equipment. "When starting a row with the baler always ..." he would say quoting the video word for word. The latest animated Disney video couldn't hold his attention as well as the sometimes dry, technical videos.
By the time he got to kindergarten, he had already carefully "cultivated, planted and harvested" thousands of acres of "his" crops on the living room floor of his parents home.
When he saw tractors parked in the high school parking lot one day, he announced he would someday join FFA, so he too could drive a tractor to school for FFA week. And he did.
Throughout his school career, not a teacher he had, or friend he played with, would ever doubt where his heart lie...on the farm, in the field and on a tractor.
Every picture, every story, every essay and every report centered on farming. It was his love and his passion and it never wavered.
Before he was big enough to plant in the real fields, he had a section in his mother's garden, where he planted his own field corn and soybeans. Carefully, sowed and seeded, his "field" boasted a pond and terraces.
When the proud day came and he was allowed to drive a real tractor, he was ready, having ridden countless training hours in the hope that someday he could do it "all by himself."
Through the years, he took care of bottle calves, show steers, heifers, kittens, dogs and a few other stray animals, always seeming to find his "fun" and "play" in working on the farm. Summers were spent more with "work" than with "fun." However, for the little farmer, the two seemed to be one in the same.
As time went on his interests of books grew from "Johnny Tractor" to "Farmer Boy" to fact-packed books ranging from "The History of Tractors" to "John Deere Tractors 1960-1980." His knowledge of all things farm, sometimes even stumped his father. There didn't seem to be a tractor fact that he didn't know.
As high school turned into college, the young farmer grew from a boy to man.
Armed with the knowledge that he could someday join his father on the farm full-time - right after he earned his college degree -- he tackled that job as he had all the others: with his best efforts.
He went "away" to college for four years, but never really left the farm behind, carrying it with him in his heart, as he always had. Any breaks, including those in spring and summer vacations were spent on the farm, never complaining, always eager to be back to work.
Last week, the now 22-year-old man walked across the stage in Maryville, Mo., receiving a bachelor's degree in Agricultural Science, with a minor in Precision Agriculture.
The following Monday he did the same thing he has done hundreds of times ... headed to the field. But this time, he did as an "official" farmer, taking his place beside his father and becoming the 8th generation of his family to farm in America.
Our greatest wish is that Bill's career choice is everything he ever dreamed of, hoped for and worked tirelessly towards.
Congratulations son. We couldn't be prouder.
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