Farming is ingrained into the structure of the Vanosdol family. Vanosdol Farms and Trucking has operated in Arlington since 1947.
“My grandmother and her husband purchased this farm,” David Vanosdol said. “My mother and dad bought it from her. We have been on this farm right here ever since.”
Farming is a family business for the Vanosdols.
David, 72, moved to the farm in 1952. He, his son Jason, 44, and grandson Joshua, 19, operate the family farm together.
The family grows corn and soybeans across 1,300 acres. They also have a hog operation, which produces between 2,800 and 3,000 hogs annually.
“I think being close to the land keeps you grounded,” David said. “We are strong in our church. I think that all kind of goes together. It is a little different life, but of course being farmers, we prefer it.”
The Vanosdols believe it is important for farmers to be involved in their local communities.
David looks at his role as a farmer as being a provider of food and fiber as numerous food and clothing items derive from corn and soybean products. The farm also sponsors high school sports locally.
The Vanosdols understand the critical role they play on the world scale as well.
“Without what we do there wouldn’t have been the E85’s, the biodiesel and the advancements of how to produce more, on less,” Jason said.
David likes having the ability to work with his family and be able directly influence his farm’s success.
David was able to farm with his dad, Robert, much like he does with his son and grandson today. He said the changes his father saw during his time farming were amazing.
Robert started farming by driving a team of horses. He was driving a four wheel drive tractor before he retired.
David believed he would never see such changes to the degree his father did.
“I thought I would never see that kind of change in farming. My gosh, I have,” David said. “In the sciences and electronics end of it, it’s just unbelievably different. We’re not the most up to date electronically, but we do have auto steer and mapping. So, we aren’t totally out of it.”
David believes most of these changes were for the better.
“The auto steer and mapping have made us more efficient to the fact that, when we go out and harvest a field, we are taking the same paths every trip across the field,” Jason said. “The mapping part of it has made it more efficient for the fertilizer end of it, because they spread the fertilizer to our maps. We are not just putting a flat rate on the field anymore. It’s adjusting as it goes across.”
Jason is service minded like his father as he has served with a local fire department for 25 years. He also enjoys the time he gets to spend with family.
“Not many people get to say that they have worked with their father or mother their whole life,” Jason said. “Being here in the family farm, in the family business, has taught me a bunch.”
The Vanosdols know farming comes with its own unique struggles.
“The drought of 2012 was an eye opener for me,” Jason said. “That was my biggest struggle, getting through the drought.”
David knows the financial aspects of farming have changed dramatically, as it takes more and more money to operate a farm.
David said farmers must also be willing to accept they won’t receive a paycheck every two weeks like many careers. It’s just a part of being a farmer.
The family has diversified what it does, because of the increased financial obligations of farming by trucking locally harvested crops to grain elevators. Jason spends a lot of time from fall through Christmas helping other farmers bring in their crops.
Joshua is the fifth generation of the Vanosdol family to live and work on the farm.
“It’s fortunate for him the first year out he got to see how tough this spring was to get things planted,” Jason said of his son Joshua. “You go out and try to plant something and get rained out and have to sit for two or three days. Not every year is that way.”
Joshua graduated high school this spring and has a desire to carry on the family tradition.
“We need farmers,” Joshua said. “It’s a good tradition and it’s fun.”
Joshua most enjoys the history and business aspects of farm life. He’s wanted to play a more pivotal role on the farm since graduating.
“I guess, getting more involved and becoming a bigger piece of this farm and taking over some parts of it and keeping the trend going,” Joshua said regarding where he sees himself in five years.
“I’ve told him (Joshua), you’ve got to be sure that’s what you want to do, but you don’t have to be sure today,” David said. “I encourage him and everybody else to stay on top of technology, agronomy and seed. It changes a little bit every year.”
Each of the Vanosdol’s has a passion for antique tractors. The family has multiple antique John Deere tractors and they often attend tractor shows together.
The Vanosdols enjoy the rich history the tractors represent. The hobby brings their family even closer together.
David and Jason gave important advice to the next generation of farmers, like Joshua.
“Be willing to get through the tough times,” David said. “The good times are easy to go through.”
Jason would advise up and coming farmers to be patient and stick with it.
The Vanosdol family would like to thank Mike Bradley for all his help on the farm. Bradley has worked at Vanosdol Farms since 2001.
“I thank God for the opportunity (to farm). Not everybody has it,” David said. “I ask for him to remove some of those stressful things, which that isn’t guaranteed. I’m getting close to my end of farming. I do appreciate it.”
“It’s what I’ve always wanted to do from day one, because I saw my dad and grandpa,” Jason said. “I got to work with my grandfather. I got to work with dad. Now I’m getting to work with my son.”