Sons carry on in family farm operation
Sherry Stowers, Kirklin, has vivid memories of her son, Jared, sitting on the tractor as soon as his little body would carry him there. He’d tell that tractor, “I’m gonna drive you someday!” Jared, she says, has put more miles on a vehicle, backing it in and out, than when it was running down the road.
While Jared was dreaming of driving the tractor, younger brother Clayton seemed to possess an uncanny ability to work with animals. “He can read them so well and seems to understand them,” his mom explains. “When he would work with our horses, he knew when to push them and when to pull back.”
This farmwife, who didn’t know all those years ago for sure if her boys would come back to the farm, has practiced a certain philosophy with her sons. “When you plant a seed, you can’t create the rain, heat or sunshine,” she explains. “You have to trust God for what the harvest will be. Planting seedlings of faith in a child is much the same way — you just watch them grow. Even if God takes something or someone, he is still there. To me farming is an open Bible, where the lessons come to life.”
• The Stowers brothers have loved farming since childhood.
• Their dad didn’t push them to come home to the farm.
• The family seems keenly aware of helping the community around them.
Alan Stowers didn’t want to push his two sons into coming back to the family farm. “It had to be their decision,” he says. But he’s glad both have decided to follow in his footsteps.
He understands his boys’ excitement about farming, and he’s glad they’re starting out on their own. But like their mother, he also believes it’s important for them to realize what God has placed in their hands.
“I want the boys to always remember everything we have comes from God,” Stowers says. “If it is a triumph or tragedy, I want them to be able to be still long enough to see what is going on around them, always looking for God’s hand.”
Faith, family, community
Jared and Clayton Stowers are quick to give credit to family and surrounding neighbors in Clinton County for support over the years. It’s proof that a sense of community runs deep within them. To Jared, it’s important to be just as giving to others. They have often been on the receiving end of kindness.
“Our neighbors have helped set us up and have always been there for us,” he says. “I want to be able to do the same someday.”
Returning to the family farm came naturally for each of them. They’re realistic about the challenges ahead, but immensely enjoy their careers as keepers of the land.
The boys give credit to others who have contributed to their farming efforts, including former ag teachers Matt Dice and Roger Carr. Both kept them under close supervision, instilling the importance of good recordkeeping skills and a better understanding about what it takes to farm. Carr still teaches at Clinton Central today. He shares fond memories of the Stowers boys.
“I’ve been blessed to have surrounded myself with some elite young people,” he says. “The Stowers boys are two of the finest. I’m personally very proud they’ve come home to farm. Sometimes we make a mistake and try to tell kids they all need to be doctors and lawyers. It’s OK in my opinion to earn a college degree and come back home. Too many times our best leave, and as small communities, we need them here.”
The boys consider their mother their best cheerleader and are grateful their dad allowed them to barter for use of his equipment to get started. They look to their dad as an example of integrity.
Clayton claims he and his brother want to be proactive, planning, researching and looking ahead. “We want to do what works,” he says. What would success look like for Clayton? “A nice field of hay, cows grazing contentedly in the pasture, and watching calves jump around on 5 acres,” he says.
Jared best expresses the realities and risks of daily farm life a bit differently. “The other day, I was driving and looked in the rearview mirror. I saw I had blown two tires,” he recalls. “I had to sit there, waiting for eight hours; my whole day was spent waiting. It was frustrating.
“When I finally got back home, there was a new calf, kicking up its heels in the lot,” he continues. The whole family, not just Jared, seems to be good at finding joy in the midst of trials. If they’re typical of the next generation of farmers, the future of agriculture looks rather bright, neighbors say.
McClain writes from Greenwood.
This article published in the September, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.