Farming Fathers: Century Farmer passes more than just work ethic onto his five children

Shannon Marvel
Farm Forum

If there’s one thing Merle W. Leibel passed onto his five children, it’s work ethic. That’s why the 65-year Glencross farmer was nominated by his son, Chad, for the 2019 Farm Father’s award.


The Farm Forum agreed with his son’s reasonings on why his father was deserving of the award.

“When I told him about how he won the award, Merle got up and just walked out of the room,” his wife, Renee, said with a grin.

Merle has never been the type to get bent out of shape thanks to his calm, cool and humble demeanor.

“I didn’t know nothing about it. It’s great that they appreciate me and that they’d do that for me. I would have never given it a thought,” Merle said of the award.

“Dad has been farming his entire life and last year received the Century Farm Award as he is the third generation farmer. He has taught me about perseverance and managing the business for the ups and downs that are a huge part of the farming and ranching industry. My siblings and I would not be as successful in life if it hadn’t been for the lessons we learned from our father,” Chad wrote in the nominating application.

During the lunch provided to the family by Farm Forum representatives and various sponsors, Merle’s son Joseph delved deeper into why his dad was deserving of the award.

“The guy knows how to do everything. He knows so much he can’t even teach you everything,” Joseph said. “With this big equipment it can be a little intimidating. But if something is wrong, he’ll stop it and usually knows right away what’s wrong with it. He’s so smart about everything and he will always share that knowledge.”

On their farm near Glencross in Dewey County, Merle and his wife raise cattle and grow crops, and once upon a time ran a dairy operation until 1998 when Merle decided to get out of dairy business.

Joseph recalled when the family sold the dairy cows in December of 1998. “Honestly, I got off the bus and I didn’t know what to do. I don’t think dad knew what to do either. He would always have to come in from the field to milk the cows. But he did it long enough to get us where we needed to be,” Joseph said.

Now that Joseph is getting into cattle for himself, he’s never led astray when he asks for his father’s guidance.


“I’m starting to a little bit of my own cattle and he never tells me no and he’ll never tell me flat out that it’s a bad idea. But by the time you’re done having the conversation you know if it’s a bad idea and he’s gotten his point across. He’s just a wealth of knowledge and so willing to share it, with neighbors and everyone. I’ve got a couple classmates that are back farming around here and they’ll come up and get his advice on things. He gets along with everybody.”

His wife, Renee, is thankful for a husband that kept a cool under pressure and was there for the ups and downs of farming, even while being young parents.

“The first nine years we lived in a trailer while his parents lived in the house we live in now,” Renee recalled.

She commented on all the farmers and neighbor — both young and old — who stopped by to congratulate Merle on his award, saying that he’s always been there to lend a helping hand or words of wisdom regardless of blood relation.

Merle and Renee’s daughter, Tami, echoed her siblings’ thoughts on her father, saying he was always a hard working, as did their sons, Doug and Kurt.


“He’s just one of those guys that’s always there. He’s there for his family, his kids and his neighbors too. I mean, that’s one thing with my dad and that’s he’s taught all of us kids and one of the things that us kids have carried through, is helping your family, your neighbors and your community. He’s not a man of many words but he has a huge heart,” Tami said.

All five children have gone on to have successful careers in various industries, which Tami said is more evidence of their strong upbringing.

Farming Fathers: Century Farmer passes more than just work ethic onto his five children