A former city boy Jeff Megee has farmed land that has been in his family since the 1800s. According to Megee, he his son Joe and grandson Jenson currently farm nearly 850 acres of property.
He turned to farming full-time in 1989 following a successful career very different in nature.
The elder Megee and his son Joe recently sat down and discussed the journey and career they enjoy and, as they say, it takes a lot of work at the same time. Compounding the issues of this year’s seemingly never ending rain, the Megee home and property sustained extensive damage during the June 15 tornado that struck Rush County.
As fortune would have it, no one was home at the rural residence located in the 2000 block of Orange Pike when the F2 (130 mph winds) struck that fateful evening.
During the recent interview, piles of damage were still evident with trees toppled and broken around the once pristine farm house property and contractors working to repair the roof of the two-story home.
However, as Megee put it, “life goes on, such is the life of a working farm. There is always something to do, fix or repair,” he said with a laugh.
For a number of years, his family resided in the 500 block of North Main Street in Rushville prior to relocating to South Bend. Following graduation, Megee looked west to Iowa and continued his education at Parsons College, earning a degree in business administration. After graduating from college, Megee moved closer to his roots and moved to Fort Wayne, getting his foot in the door of the technological age and became a computer programmer.
In 1973, he returned to Rush County and took over some of the daily operations of the family farm.
A short time later, Megee’s parents retired and the day-to-day operations of farming became his and his son Joe’s.
When asked his thoughts on farming and the ag industry as a whole, he and Joe laughed and almost simultaneously said there are good and bad days.
In 1989 as his children grew and went off to college, to supplement the family, Megee went back to computer programming for a number of years and farmed as well until returning to farming full-time in 2005.
Through the years, changes have been seen in the ag industry, from paperwork and the size of farms needed to earn a living.
Megee is like most farmers in saying that a small acreage farm operation simply can’t support a family in these days and times.
The biggest change he has witnessed is the growth in the use of technology related to farming.
“When I started farming, we had tractors with cab,s but nowhere near the horse power available nowadays. Another substantial change from a conservation standpoint at least has been doing away with conventional tillage and as a result we don’t have near the erosion problems we use to have,” Megee said.
Both Jeff and his son wonder how farming all those years ago worked so effectively. The window of opportunity and getting out in the fields is getting narrower and narrower.
Jeff said that when he began farming, he used a four-row planter and a 16-foot disc.
“We farm a lot more acres per-farmer now than we use to. You use to be able to live on 160 acres of farm land,” the elder Megee said.
Currently, the Megee farm has multiple crops: corn, soybeans and wheat as well as livestock to keep them busy.
Jeff and his wife Betsy have two children, Joe and Jennifer.
Jennifer is an educator overseas teaching in Singapore, while son Joe and grandson Jenson work the farm with Jeff.
Working, owning and farming is a costly one and unlike other forms of employment, farmer buy retail and sell wholesale. According to the Megees, the farming industry has no control over what they sell for as a set price.
“We have to take what the market will bear or give us. Farming is no longer based on supply and demand anymore. It is much more speculative in nature,” they said.
All in all Jeff is pleased with the decision he made years earlier and said he enjoys many of the aspects of being a farmer and working. He continued by adding he will continue to work as long as he can and doesn’t look toward retirement anytime soon.
Aside from farming, Jeff has served the community he calls home in a variety of other ways: 20-years as a reserve deputy with the Rush County Sheriff’s Department and nearly 30-years as a volunteer with the Rushville Township Volunteer Fire Department, many in the capacity of fire chief. His wife Betsy is a Master Gardner and tends to her flower garden daily.
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