Farming operations in Knox County vary in
size ranging from less than one hundred acres
to more than four thousand. The Hathaways, who own one of the largest farms
in Knox County, believe that increasing the size of their operation and
keeping up with the latest
allows them to "continue in this business."
Others, like Kathy
Grassbaugh, a dairy farmer from Howard Township, feel that part of the expansion
of their operation has been a result from outside pressure.
"I don't like the idea of getting bigger and bigger. I guess
I like the point we used to be at. I don't even like it that we have gotten
this big [nearly one thousand acres and one hundred
head of Holstein cows]. It is almost like the fun of doing some of the
things has been taken out because you are under so much pressure."
As the size of operations increases, many farmers feel their farms are
becoming more business-like. Kathy's husband, Dale Grassbaugh, feels this is
true. "You've got to look at farming from a business aspect now. Definitely
there is still a trend, a way of life, part of farming but you have got to
make decisions and they have to be business decisions."
Some smaller farmers, although occasionally feeling the pressure to
are in no hurry to become larger. Becky Shinaberry, who lives on
a four-hundred and fifty acre sheep and beef farm with her husband, Dennis,
three sons and Dennis' parents, is happy with the current size
of their family farm. According to Becky, the size of an operation has the
potential of effecting the character of the farm.
Once a family farm has increased in size, Becky feels that it is more
likely for the farm to slip out of the hands of the family and into the
hands of hired help.
She stresses that by keeping the operation at a medium size
they are able to keep it in the family which she feels
is important. "When you pull in someone who maybe wasn't born and
raised on a farm and is only following instructions and
doesn't have the foresight to see 'Well, if I do this it could have an
affect on something else later on for the crop' ... it kind of deters away from
the family farm ... To keep it all in the family for us
is just right."
It is for these reasons that the family farms of Knox County
differ so dramatically in size. For some, the need to grow
larger and larger is important,
something they feel will allow them to continue farming in the future.
For others, the need to stay small is just as important.
They believe that staying small
will preserve the character of the family farm.
photo credit: Gregory Spaid