Harvest: Faith, family and farming

Gideon and Alaina Foged watch from the combine as grain augers into the truck. (Provided photo/Abby Foged)

 

By Adrienne Douke
Empire Press Correspondent

Farming is a family legacy on the Waterville Plateau for members of the Murison family. They are, from the top, Braydon Murison, sixth generation, Max Murison, sixth generation; Brad Murison, fifth generation; Don “Duck” Murison, fourth generation; and George Murison, sitting on the tire, sixth generation. (Provided photo/Nikki Murison)

As the 2019 wheat harvest is underway, farm country sees lumbering combines crossing the fields and augering the wheat into waiting wheat trucks and semis.

Farm families are putting in long hours to get their crops silo-secured. Many wheat farms on the Waterville Plateau have farmed for generations and they share the belief that this work is more than a career choice — it is a way of life.

Fourth generation wheat farmer Don “Duck” Murison remembers, “We worked seven days a week. We wanted to get as much of the crop into the silos to offset the inevitable breakdowns, bad weather, or fires that could ruin the year’s work. We wanted as much put by as we could get.”

Murison recalls a life spent in the field, in the shop, and driving semis to raise and harvest wheat. The Murison family began farming their ground in 1889.

“I liked the work, fixing the farm machinery that needed repair or servicing,” he said. “I was 13 when I first drove a D-6 Cat pulling a combine for harvest. It was hard work.”

The first time Murison drove the Cat he wasn’t quite tall enough, so he had to put his feet on the diesel tank and pull the steering clutch, side lever down.

“For a minute, I couldn’t see where I was going, not until I set up again,” he said.

Farm hours are dawn to dusk. Murison recalled, “In those days (there was) no air conditioning. We had open cabs, and I remember dust — lots of dirt and dust.”

Before there were rock pickers, he added, “We picked rocks by hand. It was hot, sweaty, dirty work.”

Farm kids worked hard and did not complain, Murison said.

“It never occurred to me to tell my father ‘no’,” he laughed. “Working as a family was important to our success. Laziness wasn’t an option.”

As a young man, Murison had another career choice in electronics. “I enjoyed it,” he said, “But when the company promoted me, it meant relocation to Bridgeport, Connecticut. I turned it down, I didn’t want to live in Bridgeport, Connecticut.”

Wade Foged is a fourth generation wheat farmer and says, “It’s a time-honored tradition to sit in your father’s lap and drive the combine or the truck. I remember how I felt up there as a kid and now my children sit in my lap and do the same. it’s an unexplainable feeling — passing on the family farming tradition.”

Wade’s wife Abby notes that farming can be a humbling occupation.

“One big storm can wipe out your whole crop, one huge breakdown can change your financial situation but — like farmers everywhere — we persevere. We put our efforts into the hope of next year’s harvest — there is always next year.”

Now, two more generations of Murisons are working the fields. Brad and Nikki Murison, who were both raised on the farm, moved back to the family farm in 2004 to continue the farming legacy.

“We knew it was the best way to raise our children,” Nikki Murison said.

Farmers are by nature fiercely independent, possessing tremendous willpower and self discipline to get the job done. They rise each morning and tackle whatever obstacles are thrown at them, whether it is a flat tire, a broken sickle, or a broken combine. No two days are alike. In one day they might drive the combine, harvest the crop, then drive the truck and pull drills to plant the next crop — always with an eye on the next job.

Farming is a love of the land and taking care of the fields with the best possible farming practices for future generations to work the land. Farming is working alongside immediate and extended family members to plant, tend, weed, fertilize, spray and store the crops.

Murison has 44 years of farming to his credit and says he wouldn’t trade the farm life for anything. “I’d do it all over again,” he said.

“Smell that dampness when the sun begins to set?,” Murison said after pausing a moment to reflect. “That’s country. It always brings me back. Those are the best memories.”