Wheat harvest is a very important time of the year for winter wheat farmer Jason Ochs and his family.
“This is one of our two paydays a year. We get fall harvest and wheat harvest.”
Jason Ochs farms with his brother and kids in Hamilton County, Kansas. While he runs the farm, his brother, Justin, has a full-time job at a local grain elevator, and helps with the farm during busy times.
While the brothers are farmers at heart, they also love the community they live in. Because of this faithful dedication, the two brothers and their wives also own and operate a local pizza parlor in their hometown of Syracuse, Kansas. For them, it would be a shame for their neighbors to lose another eatery because no one could, or would, would step up.
“Harvest can be stressful, rewarding and exciting. There are all kinds of emotions going into harvest for sure,” Jason says. “There’s so many unknown factors when it comes to harvest that when you can go, you better go, working hard and long hours just to make sure you get that harvest in.”
He says some years are better than others, but even in the bad years he knows he is right where he is supposed to be. There have been times when his fields have been hit with hail storms right before harvest. Other years have brought extreme drought. But the good years make it all worth it.
“In the good years, it’s extremely rewarding, knowing that you put this little seed in the ground and it grew. Mother Nature rained on it. Then you have this bountiful harvest at the end.” Jason says, “I can’t even put it into words, how exciting it is for me to see that happen.”
“Being a farmer, you gotta be extremely optimistic, and you have to have the love of farming in your heart. It will kill you if you don’t.”
He knows that farms have gotten bigger, but the increased size and the diversity it brings is needed for modern farmers. “I think many people think farms have commercialized. I am a much larger farm than my grandfather and my father, but the acreage is needed in today’s agricultural world…as far as to generate enough revenue to keep the equipment going, to buy new equipment, to possibly purchase some ground. But I would say the majority of all farms are family farms.” In fact, the National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Census of Agriculture reports that nearly 96 percent of the farms in the U.S. are family farms.
Jason says, “I’m happy that my family is willing to be involved. We joke and have fun. We all know things need to be done, and everybody sees something that needs to be done. They jump in and take care of it.”
Family is important down home on the farm. Jason’s kids love the farm and someday want to come back to it. While they each have individual interests, like wanting to be a veterinarian or loving to work on dune buggies, they all want to someday farm the same ground that their father, grandfather and great-grandfather did. Those acres are like a honing beacon to farm kids. The soil gets in your soul, and no matter where you go in the world, there’s a voice in your heart that wants you to plow it.
“I don’t know how I got so blessed.”
Making the World Better
Farmers like Jason and the Ochs family work every day to make the world a better place.
Jason says, “I want this world to be a better place when I leave because of what I did. I am going to do everything I can to make the ground better. To raise my kids to be better than I am. Every generation should make this world better, and some don’t believe that’s possible, and I completely believe it’s possible. Not just agriculture, every aspect of this world. We can leave it better. So I want, in 50 years, my grandkids to say, because of my grandfather, this world is a better place. So I’m willing to work hard, continually educate myself more every day to make that happen.”