(Editor's Note: This is the first of six profiles of this year's class of Master Farmers/Master Farm Homemakers. The profiles, as are the stories in the magazine, are presented in alphabetical order.)
For Kevin and Barbara Alpers, pure joy is seeing all three of their children come home to the small Stafford County community of Hudson to raise their families surrounded by cousins, grandparents and great-grandparents.
"Our farm has changed and grown and things are a lot different than they were even 10 or 15 years ago," Kevin says. "We've diversified with a wide range of crops. But the best crop we ever raised was those three kids."
Their oldest son, Tyler, graduated from Kansas State University in 2003 with a degree in ag economics and came home to the fifth generation of Alpers farming in Stafford County. His wife, Leah, got her undergraduate degree from K-State in 2002 and her Physician Assistant degree from Wichita State in 2005. She works in general surgery at Hoisington and Great Bend hospitals. They have three children, Braxton, 8, Easton, 5 and Brecken, 10 months.
Daughter, Tabra, graduated from K-State in 2004 with a bachelor's in food science and continued her education at the University of Arkansas, where she obtained a master's in food science in 2006. She works for ConAgra but is lucky enough to be able to work from home. Her husband, Shawn, has a degree in biology and works in flour production for Hudson's hometown flour mill, which produces Hudson Cream Flour. They have two children, Ryer, 4 and Bowen, 1.
Daughter, Taci, graduated from K-State in 2010 with a bachelor's in early childhood education, and obtained her master's in 2012. Her husband, Tyler, graduated in 2010 with a degree in 2010 and got his doctorate in physical therapy at Wichita State in 2014.
After his graduation, they returned home where she took a job in the local school system and Tyler works in the local hospitals as a physical therapist. They have two daughters, Liddy, 2, and Maris, who joined the family in December.
For Kevin and Barbara, seeing their grandkids grow up the way their children did, surrounded by family, is the ultimate reward.
Along with family, the Alpers family is surrounded by history.
Kevin and Barbara live in the house were Kevin grew up on the farmstead established by his great-grandfather. Once a small, one-room home with an attic for a bedroom, the house has been remodeled and enlarged through the years to become the large five-bedroom, three-bath home that it is today but the original framework of the original 1880s house has been showcased in the large, open kitchen.
Their home stands within sight of the Stafford County Flour Mill, which is also interwoven into family history. It is the buyer of the family's hard red winter wheat and their contracted white wheat which becomes the Hudson Cream Flour sold across the country.
Their farm includes diversified acres in wheat, grain sorghum, soybeans, alfalfa, grass hay, rye, sudan and forage oats, along with a herd of beef cows and stocker calves.
Advice to young "wannabe" farmers
Find a mentor; you will need help.
Communication is important; make sure to say what you want and expect.
If you don't know, ask questions.
Treat farming with respect and gratitude. Whether it be soil, equipment or livestock, showing respect for all things around you can be a major contributor to success.
Be prepared to make decisions and take charge of what needs to be done.
Make sure you LOVE this occupation. If you don't, you won't survive.
Meet the Master Farmers:
Kevin and Barbara Alpers