Farm life and the decision to retire

MURDOCK, Neb.- A Nebraska couple is closing out their 60-year farming career, as they look forward to retirement.

The decision to retire is a unique milestone for a farm family, and for Ervin and Mary Ann Stohlmann of Murdock, it's a bittersweet feeling. But they believe the time is right. "You kind of wish it wasn't here, yet you know you've got to," Mary Ann said. "It's been a good life, but everything has to change and come to an end, and that's part of it."

During a farm sale on November 24th, tractors, combines and other farm equipment were sold off. Some people came from as far away as Canada to visit the sale. It was a time for the Stohlmanns to reflect back on the joys and challenges of farming in Nebraska. "The first machinery we had we went two rows down the field. We cultivated those rows and got the ground all prepared ahead of time," Ervin said. "Now you've got 16 or 24 rows, and you go 6-miles an hour, and you don't till at all, and it saves the soil. It's good conservation. It's just changed drastically." Modern farmers mostly use chemicals today to fight weeds, but years ago, Mary Ann remembers cutting the weeds by hand. "We used to have to walk beans in the summer time, and we wouldn't go on vacation until we got all of that done. The kids knew that, and so we were up bright and early and had our corn knives and walked through the bean fields to get the weeds out."

The Stohlmanns say farming can be uncertain. "You depend on God for the weather," Mary Ann said. "You look at when the rain clouds come, or if they don't come. There are drought years, and you wonder whether you are going to make it through." And of course, there are challenges. "I remember back in the 50's when we had 3 years of drought. Then we had another period in the 60's. Those were tough years because you had no income but you still had the expense," Ervin said.

But overall, the family is happy for what they've achieved, and are ready for someone else to take over planting and harvesting. As for people getting into the business, Mary Ann had this to share: "It's a great life. The rewards are a lot. And if I gave one piece of advice, I would say, take God along as your partner, and you'll be fine."