The large oak tree has survived all those years because of its strong roots. Like the old oak tree, our family farm has survived for over a century because of our roots, our heritage.
The Maddox’s first settled in the Niantic, IL. area around 1907-1910. Charles and Cora Maddox, (my great grandparents) had been farming down around Noble, IL. on a 20 acre farm when they decided to move. They loaded their 6 children, horses, and all their worldly possessions on a box car and headed 125 miles north. They settled on a 240 acre farm that they leased 3 miles south of Niantic. There they grew corn, soybeans, hay, oats, and wheat.
In 1923, my Grandfather (Robert) got married and moved to the Lyman Farm northeast of Niantic. In 1930, they had one surviving son named James (my father). Grandpa raised cows, pigs, chickens, corn, soybeans, and wheat. I remember Dad telling me about grandpa’s egg route that he had, where he would trade his eggs for dry goods at the Piggly Wiggly store in Decatur, Il.
Dad and Grandpa farmed together for many years. They farmed approximately 600 acres with 2 Minneapolis Moline tractors. James got married in 1950 and had 4 children. In 1966, he built his own home a few miles north. In 1972, Dad decided to get involved in the hog business and put up a farrow to finish building. In 1978, after graduating college and getting married, I joined dad in the hog operation by putting up a couple more buildings. Soon after, we were farrow to finishing about 3000 head a year.
My father was always ahead of the times in agriculture. He was one of the first farmers in the community to drill dwarf soybeans and one of the first to experiment with no till practices. In the 1980’s through 1990’s, my dad, mom, and sister (Susie) established a business called the Prairie Patch. They grew and sold Native American wildflowers and grasses throughout the state to the soil and water conservation districts. Imagine that now, 30 years later, prairie plants are a big interest in buffer zones with pollinators.
I owe it to my dad for the courage and wisdom to look out past our blinders and take a chance by doing something a little different, something that nobody else is doing around here.
Thanks to my heritage, thanks to my forefathers, thanks to my dad for “plowing the way”.
Ted Maddox 3-30-2016