Why I Farm: Jeff Pence

Greenfield, Ohio

To many, farming is hard work and not worth the risk. But to others, the enjoyment of caring for livestock and growing your own food makes it more than fun, it becomes a passion.

The garden alone is a game played with Mother Nature that equals anything a person can view on any of the TV sports channels. I’d say it is a combination of chess; wrestling and hide-n-go seek.

The thrills of a garden never end for those bitten by the gardening bug. Every season brings a new delight of anticipation, optimism, and rewards along with a touch of disappointment and the rare discouragement. Mother Nature doesn’t always play fair.

In the winter you start receiving all the seed catalogs and you are filled with excitement as you make a list of what you want to grow. Do you stick with only the time tested variety of tomatoes you’ve always grown or do you try a few of those new fancy name varieties that boast of a bigger yield? Your mind constantly reviews what you learned last year and how you will improve on the garden. Anticipation is the main emotion in winter because next year’s garden is always going to be the best.

Spring is the time to release the penned up energy. The dreams of a bountiful harvest seem to bring on new added strength needed to wrestle the garden tiller a little longer so you can add one more row of beans. One more row, no, let’s make it two more rows. But spring is also the time when the head games with Mother Nature begin. Is she going to dry up enough to sow some seed or will she swamp the garden with one more gully washer? When will the last hard frost hit so I can get an early start on being the first with a ripe tomato. Like chess, you are guessing her next move so you can plan yours.

Summer with its agonizing heat and dry spells don’t get us down as long as we are gathering baskets full of cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and sweet corn. Not only are we trying to keep the plants thriving through the heat, there’s the incessant weeds and bugs. And as soon as you think you’ve eradicated them all, a pigweed, unseen hiding under a grapevine next to the garden sets to dispersing a million seeds. A real gardener doesn’t fret, it will just add to the pigweed population next year which will be used to supply the compost pile or laid down after pulling as mulch. The bugs Mother Nature chooses to toss at us will feed the chickens, especially those huge juicy tomato worms. No checkmate this time Mother Nature, your move.

Fall is when we start to slow down. The air is cool and it is time to clean up the garden debris if we choose. Fall crops are thriving in the cool weather as the weeds and bugs start to slow down.  The race with Mother Nature is to get the corn in, which has dried on the stocks, before the weather turns wet. The kids are all excited to run out to the pumpkin patch to pick a pumpkin. The leftover pumpkins and squash are loaded up and sold in town. People are often telling us we sell our pumpkins too cheap, but we don’t garden to get rich. How can we honestly put a price on farming when we garden to live and we live to garden? ~~


I totally agree with you about Mother Nature! 🙂

I was working for a landscape company in the early 90’s & bought some straw from him. Probably the 1st time I ran across a truly contrary farmer. Lots of Ohio Pences, I guess. I enjoyed your post.

Brian, Probably distant family but I do not know them. Almost all us Pence’s in Ohio originated from the Adams County area. Our immediate clan moved north in the 1920’s but I returned to southern Ohio in the 80’s

Jeff & Tom, are you guys related to the old fellow that had the Walcutt Rd. farm in Hilliard?

I always knew that my son Jeff was born about 50 to100 years too late, when he was young in the 1960s I always save space in our garden so he could plant his melons. One of the best times of the year to visit Jeff and his wife Joy is in the fall when you can have the last of the garden for a real good meal, it just doesn’t get any better than that. Now he has his own small farm, fresh egg’s, berries and some fruit, this can give you peace of mind. God bless you and Joy, love you.

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