NOTE: Over the next several weeks, our interns will each be writing a blog post about their experiences working with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks! this summer. Our first guest blogger is Brian Stout. Brian is the son of Iowa Learning Farms partner Rob Stout of West Chester.
Growing up on a farm, simply, was a lot of work. For a kid, summer and weekends were supposed to be for sleeping in, but there were more of those early mornings than I can count. My dad, Rob Stout, was a hard worker, as were his father and grandfather. Though I didn’t become a farmer as they had, I benefited a lot through learning what a bit of hard work can do for the earth and for you.
There was still some fun to be had, however. We had a hay mow with a rope swing (possibly the source of an occasional injury in my family). The farm could also be a
huge hide-and-seek area. Swimming through wagons of soybeans or corn was quite a different feeling than swimming in water. We had a pony when I was younger that I was small enough to ride on. My dad would even take me out for breakfast pizza after taking a trailer of pigs to market.
As a kid, I did not yet understand conservation practices. Without knowing it, I had actually taken for granted how responsible of a farmer my dad is. I didn’t realize that he was doing things differently than other farmers and leading the way to better conservation practices in our area. He started no-till on his fields in 1983, has been using cover crops since 2009, and just set up a bioreactor last year. He has a 9000-head hog operation and tests the manure and fields to determine how much manure to use as fertilizer, a job that I am sure kept me around enough poop for a lifetime.
When asked why he chooses to farm the way he does, following good conservation practices, and trying new ones, he simply says that it is the right thing to do. Until I started working for Iowa Learning Farms, I don’t think I even realized that, as much work as my dad puts into farming, he puts just as much work into making sure he is doing it in a way that will protect the earth and benefit everyone around him. I couldn’t name all the awards and recognition he’s received, but he doesn’t do it for that. He does it for the reward to the earth, knowing that it is our responsibility to take care of her, and for that I am very proud of him.