Originally published as part of the Mountain Workshops, a weeklong photojournalism workshop produced
by Western Kentucky University. The 2010 workshops were held in Elizabethtown, Ky. >> View the full picture story.
The oil was all over the place, but Steve Rogers smiled.
His fire-apple red tractor was on the fritz. The problem was in a hard-to-reach spot. But after some finagling, he had it working again.
Steve runs his family’s 1,800-acre farm now that his father, Bud, and mother, Martha, are retired.
Steve has a daughter, Sarah, and two sons, Adam and Phillip, that are studying agronomy at Western Kentucky University. His boys grew up riding with him in combines and tractors. They recently bought their own farm not far away.
Farming is like gambling, Bud said. The summer of 2010 was especially dry, and Bud harvested his soybean crop about a month early.
“Timing and weather are everything in this farming,” Bud said.
Steve’s house is about 200 yards from his parents. It’s convenient, because his mom will often fix lunch, and his dad will drive it out to him while Steve’s working the farm.
Steve is handing down lessons of farming to his sons — a rite of passage once common for all Americans that has given way to urban expansion and sprawling mega farms. Steve used to take his sons with him from chore to chore, but now they plan the day’s work in the morning and split up.
“They go their way and I go mine,” Steve said, “and they’re on on their own.”