Feeding Farmers. It’s not often you hear that phrase, it’s usually the other way around. We’ve all seen the bumper sticker that says, “Did you eat today? Thank a farmer.” But how often do we think about the one feeding the farmer?
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, 97 percent of the 2.1 million farms in the U.S. are family-owned operations. The one often feeding that farmer is also a pivotal part of the family farm. She is not a 9-to-5 kind of person, her day begins and ends when all other needs are met. She is tackling spray records and stereotypes. She is Farm Mom.
Jill Blattner, of Twin Bee Orchards in West Michigan, is one of those inspirational farm mothers. She has been farming 130 acres of apples alongside her husband, Tony and their four children for over 21 years. They actually grew up down the road from each other and ended up at Michigan State University, where Jill received a degree in education. She spent her early years as a teacher until her time was needed at home and on the farm.
It didn’t take long until she found her niche within the family business. She handles everything from paying bills to hiring employees. She is often found out in the orchard scouting or measuring apples for precision crop load management, you’ll even see her loading trucks during harvest. During the off season, Jill spends time substitute teaching in her local community. She has found that many of the skills used in the classroom still apply in the apple orchard.
Her secret to a successful family farm? It’s all about being flexible and working together. Jill and Tony have raised their children to understand the worth of a family farm. She explained, “It’s hard, all the pieces have to fit together. We instilled the value of hard work to our kids early on, so it would be easier for them to understand in the future.” Jill credits much of her success as a Farm Mom, to her mother in-law Terry. “It’s nice to have someone walk alongside you in this journey.” She is thankful for the time that was invested from the beginning because it has shaped her into the wife, mother and business partner she is today.
Her advice to the next generation of Farm Mom’s, “Don’t lose yourself in it all.” Jill explained that you have to find a balance each day. “If you don’t take care of yourself, everything else will fall out of place.” During the busy stressful days, always find something to look forward to when things slow down.
This mother’s day, on behalf of Wilbur-Ellis Company, we want to say Thank You to all the moms out there who are raising up the future leaders of our agriculture industry. Without you, much of the success we have today wouldn’t be possible. Thank you for providing the fuel for our farms, it goes way beyond the dinner plate. This Sunday, be sure to find a way to express the gratefulness you have for the mother in your life.