By Connie Sieh Groop, Special to the Farm Forum
Editor’s Note: Six regional farmers were selected as 2018 Farming Fathers. More stories, photos and videos will be posted as announcements are made. See more at www.FarmForum.net/farmingfathers.
The heart-felt words from two young people nominating their rural Aberdeen dad for Farm Forum’s Farming Father contest won the hearts of those choosing the winners.
With a farming business along a gravel road just a few miles north and west of Aberdeen, there’s not a lot of traffic at Crawford MF&S. But one day, cars and pickups kept pulling into the yard and yet no one came in the doors of the business. Glen Crawford, 47, asked his office manager Amber Gillen, “What is going on?”
Soon Glen found out the secret that his family and co-workers kept from him. His kids, Garrett and Claire, had each nominated him as Farm Forum’s Farming Father. He was one of the five chosen for the honor that includes a sponsor-provided lunch delivered to the family and friends and an article and photos in the Farm Forum.
Garrett, 12, typed, “My dad is always getting up early and staying out in the field late and if he is not in the field, he is getting things like the planter or combine ready to go or doing other tasks around the farm. He is out late so he can get the job done, put food on our plates, and help feed America. My dad truly inspires me to put lots of hard work and dedication into everything I do. I am grateful for my father and his hard work. I truly believe my father deserves this award for all the hard work and dedication he puts into everything he does.”
Claire, 10, had a little different perspective: “My father works hard every day to get the planter, the air seeder and the combine ready. He works hard to help watch us when he is working and sometimes we even get to ride around in the tractor or combine and help him. Watching him work makes me want to work harder at school at sports and at everything I do. That is why I think my father should win this award.”
Glen’s wife Heidi noticed the contest in the Farm Forum and talked to the kids about submitting their dad’s name. The kids sat down and wrote out why they thought he deserved the award and each emailed their nomination to the Farm Forum.
Living on the farm is central to the Crawfords. Heidi related that when planning their future together, Glen asked Heidi, “If we got married would you live on the farm?” Heidi asked why and he said, “If we have kids I want them to grow up on the farm. I know it isn’t a guarantee they will want to farm, but it’s our best chance of showing them how great it can be. And if they choose something else, that’s OK, but it’s our best chance.”
Married in 2003, the couple moved to the farm which had belonged to his parents. Heidi adjusted to no pizza delivery and to having dirty cars from driving on the gravel roads. She said she can’t imagine living anywhere else. She is a Mary Kay consultant so is her own boss.
Commitment to the farming lifestyle stays with Glen and carries through to their kids
Sharing hugs with his kids, Glen said, “I am surprised and honored. It will take a while for it to sink in how special this is. It’ s a great way to celebrate Father’s Day.”
Amber Gillen, office manager, sees Glen interact with his kids every day. “I think it’s awesome that they wrote separate nominations. Their perspectives show the differences from being a boy to being a girl.” Glen thanked the team in the shop, saying they are a great help in helping him have time with the kids.
Glen’s brother Todd lives a few miles away. He said, “We grew up as a farming family and didn’t have to be told what to do. We did what dad expected and then we’d take time off to go to Richmond Lake.”
In addition to farming, their dad Aryle Crawford established Crawford MF&S in the 1980s in the yard of his home that Glen oversees today. The business builds and repairs custom stackmovers. He also set up Crawford Trucks which includes a commodity business run by Glen’s brother Leon. A third brother, Todd, works with Glen to plant and harvest 2,500 acres of their own and 500 acres of custom work. Todd oversees the farm including all the paperwork while Glen oversees the shop. Todd said, “Some days, I’d rather have it switched. When it’s planting time or harvest time, Glen is in the tractor or the combine.” This last year, Glen and Heidi developed Brown County Choppers, a business that specializes in clearing debris from shelterbelts.
Following in his dad’s footsteps, Glen is on the Agtegra (formerly Wheat Growers) Board of Directors.
For the past 45 years, Neil Schaunaman, has worked for Crawfords. He said he remembers Glen crawling around the shop floor in a diaper. “He’d get really dirty. I don’t know how his mom got him clean.” Neil oversees the shop and with the help of the other fellows, handles the workload when Glen needs to leave for meetings or to help in the field. Or to leave for his kid’s events.
Glen said with some shop repairs require extensive detective work. “Sometimes both Neil and I scratch our heads and are not sure what to do to fix a problem. When dad was here, he would always sleep on it and in the morning, he’d have a way to fix it. I miss having his help.”
As far as the business, “My dad believed making mistakes was how a person learned so he let me do my thing. And I learned.”
At the Crawford farm, the family motto is “work hard, play hard.” Both kids said they enjoy being with their dad when he’s farming. Garett is an early riser and enjoys helping which includes cleaning up machinery for the Brown County Choppers.
Special time with the kids includes watching Claire play basketball and seeing Garrett excel at golf. A favorite activity that brings dad and kids together is hunting. Both kids enjoy trap shooting.
Just across the road from the farm is a deer blind that offers special dad/kid time during hunting season. Glen explained, “At first, they’d sit in the deer blind with me for about 10 minutes and then get cold and want to go back home. I put in a heater so now we can sit in the blind, eat peanuts and tell stories. At some point, the iPads come out.” Last year, Garrett had a deer tag but didn’t get one. He’s looking forward to getting one this fall when he hunts with his dad.
With his kid’s devotion, Glen doesn’t need much for gifts. When asked, Claire said she would get her dad another dog, a Labrador. Garrett thought hard. “I’d want to get him something he really wants. Maybe a new planter.”
Growing up, Glen said their dad would miss events which frustrated him and his brothers. As they got older, ”We knew why. I keep it in my head I can miss some things but I don’t miss them all. I still miss kid’s stuff, but not as much as dad did. I learned from my dad by his example. When he had grandkids, he understood if I needed a day off. He instilled in us that when you had bills to pay, you worked and made sure you had everything done.“
Marie Crawford, Glen’s mom, shared, “I’m really proud of the kids for nominating their dad and of all the things they do with him. Glen’s dad Aryle enjoyed working with his boys. Glen does well with his kids. Men help more in the house which is different from when I got married.”
Paul Fauth of Dacotah Bank worked with the family for more than 25 years and joined in the celebration. He said, “Glen is hardworking and dedicated to his craft of farming and to his family, balancing his time with his wife and kids and activities. He’s a guy who can step up and handle all of that.”
Chris Pearson was one of those from Agtegra at the event. With the merger of two major cooperatives, there have been lots of meetings. “He’s professional and good to his family. I know he has a lot of support from Todd, Neil and the guys in the shop.”
From his heart, Glen said, “I think the one thing I have learned is that the hundred acres will always be there tomorrow, but our kids won’t be, they grow up way too fast! I believe every farming father deserves this award, I was the lucky one that had a couple of kids that wrote a letter. Thank you!”
Connie Sieh Groop is a freelance ag writer. She can be reached at [email protected].