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Women In Ag Leonarda Arens Feeding the World can present huge challenges, but today’s farmer is well-equipped thanks to progress with modern innovations in technology. Today’s farmer is also equipped with modern farm wives who work hand-in-hand with their husband, filling planter boxes while caring for the next farming generation or bringing home the bacon from off-the farm income sources. Crofton farm wife Leonarda Arens has worked side-by-side her husband Joe on their family farm since 1981. “Joe’s parents were still farming on his home place when the neighbor’s farm came up for sale,” Arens said. “We are still very thankful we were in a position to make the move back to Crofton.” Joe’s parents welcomed them back to rural Crofton, and the couples worked together, sharing equipment until Joe and Leonardo made enough to buy their own equipment, piece by piece. They raised their two children on the farm and thanks to Grandpa and Grandma living one-half mile down the road, rarely had to rely on daycare for childcare. “It was so nice to be able to drop them off at Grandma’s if the need arose like helping Joe with planting or running for parts,” Arens said. Remembering the love Grandma shared, Joe and Leonarda made it possible for Grandma to stay at home on the farm until her death and cared for her the same way Grandma cared for her grandchildren. They are very grateful their farming life allowed them to give Mom the care she needed instead of putting her in a home. “We had a dream to farm and Joe’s parents were very supportive,” said Arens. It made possible for them to be with his parents as they aged and have a life they loved. Helping Joe with farming was and still is Leonarda’s career choice. She estimates she works and lives beside her husband 98 percent of everyday. “We do everything together,” Arens said with a laugh. Although Arens doesn’t drive a tractor, when planting season rolls around, Arens is out in the field, filling the planter boxes or helping with liquid fertilizer application. Sometimes they are in the tractor together – sometimes she sits in the pickup at the end of the rows, 20vHERVOICEvMARCH/APRIL 2018 waiting for the next stop for seed or a parts run. Whatever is needed. Sitting on the end of the row waiting for Joe does get boring sometimes Arens admits so she shared her favorite boredom buster and it’s not a game on an electronic pad. She loves cross-stitch, does some embroidery - but the real deal is cross-stitch. She irons her favorite design on a tea towel and tells Joe she can have one tea towel embroidered in one trip down and back to Kansas to see grandchildren. Arens loves country roads and the Spring planting season is Arens’ favorite time of the year. She loves the energy in the air and the weather while Joe looks forward to harvest time when a farmer harvests the summer’s crop and sees his accomplishment. For Arens, harvest is a very stressful time of year since it’s a time for pushing, racing everyday Arens feels, against the weather. When Arens was growing up on her family’s farm near Menominee, she remembers her dad, getting her on the tractor when she was about 13 years old. “I promptly drove right through a fence,” Arens said laughing. “My dad looked at me and said, ‘I don’t think we’ll have you drive a tractor,’ and so I did other farm chores like milking.” Arens knew when Joe and her started farming, milking cows was not going to be part of their farm life and Joe agreed. The couple raised hogs and ran some cattle for several years but now are grain farmers and enjoy the free time they have with their son and wife in Omaha who have two of their grandchildren and daughter and husband in Kansas City also with two grandchildren. Both of their children have careers but like Joe’s parents have a dream that someone, maybe even one of their granddaughters, will come back to the family farm. “We love what we do and wouldn’t change it for anything,” Arens said. “We work together as a team and have a great life.” When Holly Dickes married husband Eric, she knew just what she was in for and it didn’t change her mind. “I love the farm life – it’s wonderful and a great place to raise children,” Dickes said. Dickes was raised on a farm near Hartington and has fond memories of family life growing up there, so it wasn’t much of a leap for her to marry a farmer. She and her husband have only recently moved to the Dickes family farm near Fordyce, easing into farm life when Eric’s parents moved to a home in town and dad Gene slowly starts easing himself toward retirement. Eric is the manager of the Fordyce Coop in his spare time and Holly is a stay-at-home mom who also operates a small daycare with four children of her own. The couple is taking small steps, taking things slowly as they move into the family farm operation. Holly Dickes and her children

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