There’s no bad day to be a farmer. When you love what you’re doing, there’s something to be thankful for year-round, regardless of the weather. That’s what Larry Dallas says. Even though the Dallas family has a farming background, Larry, who answers the questions here, and his brother are a rarity in being able to start from scratch to get in the farming business.

How long has your family been farming?

My brother, David, and I started farming in 1984. We rented 140 acres from a nice couple from Decatur. Our father was a full-time carpenter and raised hogs. He was not a grain farmer, so we basically started from scratch. I worked for another farmer, and David worked at a fertilizer dealer until there was enough ground for us to both be full time. That was in 1992. Our nephew, John, started with us in 2011. We all work full time on the farm.

Do you have any members of the family in the farm operation also working other jobs?

I do genealogy research, and our family were farmers on both sides as far back as I can find. Both sides of our mother’s family came to central Illinois from Germany in the mid-1800s. Dad’s family was in Illinois at about the same time, via Kentucky and South Carolina before that. We are glad they came to central Illinois.

Where is your farm operation?

Our headquarters is northwest of Tuscola, and we farm in Douglas and Champaign counties.

What does your farming

operation consist of? Is it strictly a grain operation, or do you also have livestock?

We grow corn and soybeans and a little hay. We don’t have any livestock. I fed a few hogs until 1998 when the market crashed and the hog business changed.

How have you seen farming change over the years?

As far as changes in agriculture — farm size has gotten bigger, and the equipment has gotten bigger. The advances in technology may be the biggest change. Our first planter had a monitor that only told the operator if seed was going through the seed tubes. On our current planters, we control the population from inside the tractor cab and map several variables as we go. Most of our fertilizer is spread with global positioning on 2.5-acre grids. There is more specialization, too. When we were kids, just about every farm had livestock and grew a bigger variety of crops.

Your farm equipment: Green (John Deere), Red (Case IH) or other?

Most of our tractors and the combines are Case IH. We run Deere planters.

What makes farming such a good vocation?

The best thing about farming is being your own boss.

The variety of work is great as well. We are pretty good at adjusting to what needs to be done on any particular day. Being outside is good, too, most of the time.

If you could change one thing about farming, what would it be?

As far as changing something about farming, we are very efficient in our operations today, but I am not so sure that rural life wasn’t better when farms were smaller and more people were involved in agriculture. It is pretty much heresy to say that.

What’s the best time of year to be on the farm?

Fall is great when you find out how your efforts for the year turned out. That said, every season is the best time of year. The way the soil smells in the spring, the feel of a cool summer morning and a crisp winter day are pretty good, too.

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