Trio of different local farms receive Hoosier Homestead awards

Aug. 28—A trio of Daviess County farms are being honored with Hoosier Homestead awards from the Indiana Department of Agriculture.

To qualify the farming operations had to be held in the same family and produce $1,000 in agricultural products.

The farms in Daviess County reflect three very different but active agricultural operations.

The state honored the Paul J. Ryan and Mary J. Ryan farm with both centennial (100 year) and sesquicentennial (150 year) awards.

"It started with Grandpa, then my Dad and his brother and then it was me and my cousin, but now I have taken over the operation completely," said Pete Ryan. "There were two families and between the two there was right at 300 acres. In the last 15-20 years it was mostly row crops."

The Ryan farm began in 1861 and like most farms has gone through some changes over the years.

"We used to have beef, dairy and hogs. We weren't really big in any of it. It managed to keep us kids busy," said Ryan. "It feels kind of nice. You get to thinking about it, there aren't that many families that have been that fortunate to have hung on this long."

The Ryan farm sits in the middle of Daviess County and even though it is small by modern standards, the owner hopes it continues.

"I would like for my son to get to the 200-year award," said Ryan.

The Graham farm was founded in 1841 and received a sesquicentennial award. The farm is still owned by the family even though they are not hands-on in the operation.

"The farm has been in our family for well over 150 years, passed down from generation to generation. We have two plots. One, we call the prairie farm northwest of town and the other is immediately east of town. It is a point of pride across our family," said President of Graham Farms Michael Graham. "I am now president of the farm. It covers 2,800 acres. All row crops. Through the generations it has seen a lot. We've had livestock and dairy. Cow/calf operation, there were turkeys and different things depending on what the farm economy was doing over all of those years."

The operation on both the east side of Washington and out near the White River is something that helps keep the family connected.

"The farm was passed down through the generations. The way we are handling it is that we have decided as a family to maintain the property, but we are not actively farming the land ourselves. We rent the farm to excellent active farmers," said Graham. "It is a point of pride in our family and it has done a lot to keep our family together to have something like that. It gives us a really good reason to work with cousins and relatives we might not get the chance to work with otherwise. We have family members from coast to coast now, as the generations go through, and the farm is a unifying piece of our family."

The Dove farm, founded in 1888 received a centennial award. The farm is in northern Daviess County just north of the North Daviess Schools and is actively operated by the family.

"We are a grain and livestock farm. We raise corn, soybeans and wheat and then we have a 100-head Angus cattle herd and we feed our cattle out in the winter time. We farm around 1,000 acres plus the cattle," said Rob Dove. "There are two of us, myself, plus my son Josh. We work it full time and I get a lot of help from my daughter and son-in-law. It's a family operation. It's deeply rooted."

Dove says that the connection to the land and animals is the key to the farm's longevity.

"I've been on the farm about all my life and my son has too. We get a lot of help from our neighbors," said Dove. "The key to it is the love of the land and the love of the livestock. We want to take care of the land and produce and we like to care for the animals. It goes back to my earlier ancestors who tilled the ground and it has grown and here we are today."

Dove says the farm is quickly approaching a 150 year of operation. He says he hopes to see it last even longer than that.

"I have a three-year-old grandson who just loves toy tractors and other farm-related toys. I think once you get it in your blood and you follow your parents and grandparents and you learn how to feed people, that becomes a driving part toward farming in the future," said Dove. "I think the small family farm is becoming more rare all the time. I hope we can keep this one intact and that we will have the generations after me that will do that. The land will always be here and I want my family taking care of it in the future."