All in the family
story by Jonathan Holt
As the sun lowers earlier in the sky, and the leaves began to fall, many farming families start facing the same challenge — time with each other is scarce.
Many times moms are turned into taxi services, carrying kids, food, and equipment to their designated places. Dads put in long hours in the field, sometimes not seeing children except for waking them up and tucking them in at night. But families will be families.
John Kuegel Jr. owns and operates Old Lyddane Farm, one of two dairy farms left in Daviess County. In the 1970’s, there were over 70 dairy farms in the area. In 2003, there were less than ten, and now there are only two.
“To succeed, you have to have a child that’s willing to come in and do the same thing. If you’re going to do that, you have to prepare the business to accept that partner,” Kuegel says, talking about the future of his farming operation and his dairy barn. “Most of the kids that come up, they have done enough work on the farm, especially the dairy, that they don’t want to milk cows.”
The Kuegel family knows this story all to well. In the 1970s, the Kuegel’s had four dairies in the family. Each decade a dairy closed to either a lack of interest or plunging milk prices.
“Well I think I’m going to take over the family farm. My favorite part is when the silage comes in. I like the smell.” says John’s son, Josh, 11.
The Kuegel family, like most farming families, are forced to make time for each other during harvest months. John spends long hours making sure the crop is in before winter. Besides Old Lyddane Farm, John and his crew also mange some 13 other farms for the owners in the area.
No matter the hurricane of activity and work, the family has special moments built in, whether it is a picnic on the back of wife, Leigh Ann’s, car in the middle of a corn field, a fall hay ride, or the pizza dinner they enjoy every Friday night. The Kuegels throw out a blanket in their family room and sit around telling stories, laughing at T.V., and enjoying pizza from a local pizzeria.
“If the diary is the center, all the work we do revolves around it twelve months a year,” Kuegel said. “It gets to the point that when it’s seven days a week, well, we have always tried to have good help.” John credits his employees and the help they give as what allows the Kuegels to have the family time they do have.