Thursday, March 13, 2014

We are Indiana Agriculture: Farming a Family Tradition for the Kelsays

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Liz Kelsay is no stranger to dairy farming.  The Real Farmwife of America grew up just west of West Lafayette.  Two of her uncles had dairy farms, and Liz grew up showing dairy cows in 4-H.

Liz and her husband are 6th generation farmers at Kelsay Farms in Johnson County.  Liz, her husband, Russell and 18 month old son, Rhett, farm with Russell’s grandmother, father, step-mother, brother and family.  They milk 500 cows three times a day and also grow corn, soybeans, hay and wheat.

In 1837, President Martin Van Buren land granted 80 acres to one of Kelsay’s ancestors, Benjamin Draper.  Benjamin then sold the farm to his sister Lucinda who later married Preserve Sefton.  The Seftons farmed for generations including Ruth Sefton, Russell’s grandmother.  Ruth married Joseph Kelsay and therefore the farm became Kelsay Farms.  Liz says, “I think the most interesting historical fact about the farm is that it has been passed down on the maternal side twice!”

The winter has been a tough one for everyone, but especially for farmers and livestock.  “During the brutal cold it was common for my husband to get home around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. after he made sure all or our cows were well taken care of,” Liz explains.   “This included checking that water fountains weren’t frozen, farm equipment was running, our milking equipment and lines didn’t freeze, new babies got extra special attention and that we could get our feed truck to all of our cows on top of a normal days work.  The cows depend on us to provide for them and that means 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  While it isn’t the easiest when he isn’t home in the evenings, we know the cows come first.  Not everyone is cut out for this lifestyle, and it isn’t easy or glamorous, but it is our passion and our heritage.”

If you have read Liz’s blog at all, it is transparent that she loves to spend time in the kitchen.  Liz feels that the kitchen is the heart of the home.  “I love feeding people.  I love the conversations that are had at the dinner table.  I love the memories that are made with our loved ones, and I love the nostalgia of making recipes that have been passed down just like our farm has.  As farmers we take pride in producing the food that families nourish their bodies with.”

Liz says that it is difficult informing the public about farming because we aren’t all connected to agriculture on a daily basis like our ancestors were.  “We don’t all have to raise the pig in order to enjoy the bacon.  It’s only natural that those who aren’t connected to a farm might not understand why we do what we do on a daily basis just like I don’t, and never will, understand computer programming and a number of other things.  The majority of farmers do what they do because we love it.  We love our cows, we love being outside, we love growing food and we want to be able to provide future generations the opportunity to do the same.”

You can learn more about Liz and her farmwife life by visiting her blog, Two Maids a Milking,  where she blogs with her sister-in-law, Amy and on the Two Maids a Milking Facebook page.   Also visit Kelsay Farms on their Facebook page, and at Kelsay Farms website.

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