Farming Fathers: Help of mentoring farmer gives Mansfield man opportunity to follow passion
Mom helps kids get their 'dad fix'
A drive to farm began at a young age for a Mansfield man when he helped his grandfather.
That interest grew through the help of a mentoring farmer to help this young father realize his dream.
In her nomination of Andrew Scarborough as Farm Forum’s Farming Father, his mother, Clarene Stern of Aberdeen, wrote, “I am so proud of this farmer. He started from absolutely nothing. He milked cows for a farmer when he was 14 years old, tried a couple of other jobs and when he was 16, started working for Larry Krause. He continues to work for Larry and has been farming on his own for several years. Andy and Amy have built a new house and he’s started a new tire repair business along with farming. The Lord knows how hard farming is on tires. He sells and services tires to several customers.”
Farm Forum agreed and honors him as one of four Farm Forum’s Farming Fathers this year. Dinner was delivered to him and his family plus those who work with him. The Farm Forum crew met at the 60’ x 120’ shop in the farmyard of Larry Krause west of Mansfield, one of the three locations where Andy and crew work. Andy received a plaque and those gathered provided info for this story, published in the Farm Forum.
Andy, 36, and his wife Amy married in 2006. They have three kids: Aiden, 10; Kylie, 7 and Alec, 4.
Amy said the kids love farm life and spending time with their dad.
“The kids all love to ride in the tractor with dad, for sure," she said. "Anytime Andy drives in the yard, the kids are there to get their ‘dad fix.’ With his schedule, some days it’s hard for him to see the kids but we try to make it work. I’ll run them out to the field so he can bring them home with him when he’s ready to quit.”
Andy’s sister, Sommer Stern, also nominated Andy.
“This farmer is my brother," she wrote. "He is always working hard in and out of the field. He has a wonderful wife and three kids. It’s hard work. He spends as much time with the family as he can. He treats his employees well and they enjoy what they do. He is a wonderful farming father who deserves to be recognized.”
Some days, Sommer will show up with coffee drinks or pizza. With a smile, he said this is her way of helping and he says he always appreciates food.
Andy started working for Larry as a farm hand when he was in high school in 1997. This will be the 22nd harvest and Larry has shared a lot about farming with him.
Through the years, Andy has taken on more responsibilities. Andy and Amy purchased land of their own in 2008 and started Scarborough Tire LLC in 2016.
This year, he and his crew handled about 15,000 acres, which include cropland, cattle, pasture, CRP and hay land.
“Most of it is Larry’s land and some belongs to my younger brother, Anthony," Andy said. "In the last year, the operation downsized, concentrating on the ground closer to home. Some land is around Eureka, Ipswich, Frederick and there is some in Minnesota.”
As retirement approaches for Larry and his wife Letty, they leave much of the field work to Andy and crew.
Larry said Andy averaged 2,000 hours a year when working for him in high school.
“Andy asked me if he’d work for me for 10 years, if I’d help him start farming and that’s what I did," Larry said. “Andy is honest, hardworking, intelligent, kind, caring with a positive attitude that I have rarely seen. Anyone would be proud to call him their son.”
Larry said he runs a fairly large operation and is in his 50th year of farming. Of all the help he’d had, Andy is one of the top two or three individuals who have worked for me.
“If there isn’t a place in ag for him, there is something wrong with the system, that’s why I helped him.” Letty added, “And he is a great father.”
The crew includes Andy, his brother Anthony, Jason Lehr, Mike Artz and, when needed, Justo Lopez. Several part-time helpers assist during harvest.
When we visited, they were applying spray to cornfields for weeds. Then they will spray the sunflower ground before planting.
“Larry wants to get some acres of sunflowers planted so that’s what we’ll do.”
The wet spring had challenges. Around Mansfield, they had 30 percent prevent plant. Some other areas were drier.
Amy works at Reunion Student Loan Finance Corp. in Aberdeen.
“I get to farm because my wife has a good job in town,"Andy said with a big smile on his face."That’s true of a lot of guys I know. If she loses her job, then we’ll be done farming. Amy does what she can to help but with three kids 10 and under, she has her hands full.”
Amy understands the kids need to “help” dad with farming.
“For Alec, the most important part is packing snacks to take with him," Amy explained."After about 20 minutes, the snacks disappear and he’s ready for me to move on to other things.”
Andy said, “Alec will tell me, ‘Call mom and tell her I want to be done.’ "
Kids ask a lot of questions and Andy admits, “I usually don’t have all the answers. I don’t know if there is an answer to some of them. Little Al asks 'How does the combine shoot the corn into the wagon? Why do you spray weeds?’ It’s constant and it’s important to answer as he remembers.”
“I don’t know if my kids will farm or not,” Andy said. “Now, little Alec likes to farm and really likes to be with me when I fix tires.”
The tire business started when Andy was fixing tires in the field and considered others were in a similar situation. These locations are a long way from a repair shop and, in 2016, he set up his business.
His main tire shop is about 6 miles north of where we met and where the Scarborough family lives. They have a mobile unit for fixing tires in the field.
Jason (JJ) Lehr started working for Andy in 2012 and said Andy is pretty laid back.
“He’s all about getting the work done and not making a big deal," he said. "There are some busy times in the spring in the fall but in the summer and winter, life is pretty family oriented.”
“He’s a hard worker, working sunup to sundown, sometimes even past that,”Andy said of JJ.
Justo Lopez began working for Andy in 2010 and now has retired, but is on call for driving the tractor during the busiest times. His least favorite thing to do is drive truck and clean out grain bins.
“I just love it," Andy said of why he farms. "Seeing the first black dirt turned in the spring thrills me every year as does the smell of the first cutting of alfalfa.”
Amy said, “You have to love what you do to work that many hours.”
As he’s learned the ins and outs of farming, Andy credits others.
“We work with some pretty good people," he said. "The bank, seed dealers, chemical dealers, the insurance agents, crop insurance people, they make it easy for us. They and the good neighbors we have are always ready to help. That’s a big part of it. Until I started farming, I didn’t understand how things worked. When I started on my own, I found all these people who can help you. We work with some of the best.
“The people I credit the most for my success are Larry and Letty; they are the most important people to me in my farming career,” Andy said. “They believed in me from the start and they still do. They gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of farming. Without them doing this, it would be nearly impossible to achieve. It’s not possible for me to thank them enough for what they have done. They have always been there to help me along with helping other people. That’s the type of people they are.”
“Andy deserves to be noticed,” Clarene said. “He’s really done well for himself. I’m proud of him as his mother. He’s always been a go-getter. I don’t help with the field work but watch the grandkids.”
She noted the older kids are involved in soccer. When they go to Sioux Falls or Minneapolis for games, the couple always find something else for the kids so they can have fun. On a recent day, Aiden told his dad he wanted a climbing wall. Andy got the wood and he built it.
“Andy has come a long way. Farming is definitely his job with heavy demands in the spring and the fall, Clarene said. "Nominating Andy is special to me because this boy grew up with me as a single mom since he was 5. He inspires me because he shows you really can make your dreams come true when you set your goals. He is a fine man.”