Positioned on Route 902 just outside of Lehighton, Pennsylvania you will drive past mostly fields and farms. Just barely off the right side of the road sits a farmhouse with an average sized farm in the back. During the fall season you may not even realize that it is there while driving by because the fall foliage is in full effect and you will often see drivers pass by without ever noticing due to some of the Maple, Oak and Birch trees that cover the house and the farm with their leaves.
Located in Mahoning Township at 1923 Mahoning Drive East, which is just outside of the borough of Lehighton sits Little Acres Farm. In the front of the property rests a rustic country house with two rocking chairs that occupy the front porch. On the lawn in the front of the house an old-fashioned wooden sign is stuck into the ground that indicates Little Acres Farm. Once you pull in around the back of the house and park and exit your vehicle there is a country feeling that makes you feel welcome. With leaves rustling in the air, a nice breeze blowing, farm animals running around making noise and one thing that a lot of people are not use to…peacefulness.
The man who is responsible for this setting came out from the back of his house wearing an old pair of jean overalls, a flannel shirt, a trucker hat and glasses. Myron Everett is the owner of Little Acres Farm and although for most of us we think that waking up before the sun is up is unheard of this is part of his everyday routine. At 66 years old, Myron still wakes up every morning by enjoying a cup of black coffee to get his day started and with his coffee in hand takes a short walk out of the house down the backyard and into the building to feed the chickens. I choose to interview Myron because he is a small-local farmer who prides himself on the work that he does. My family has also been friends of his since him and my grandmother went to grade school together so it was convenient to be able to talk to him.
Myron and I chatted as we took a leisurely walk down a dirt road that wrapped us around the field and the farm building. This setting was picture perfect as it was a crisp fall morning with a slight breeze blowing through the air with the sound of leaves crackling under our feet as we were walking and discussing his lifestyle. “So how did you ever end up getting yourself into becoming a farmer.” He was eager to start explaining his story, “When I was growing up as young kid only a few miles down the road my grandfather and father were farmers as well. So I kind of fell into it and I learned to respect and take care of the animals. I think it is just something that ran in my blood. I often thought about other careers but I don’t know if I would have been made out for school and I really didn’t have any other interests.”
We slowly transitioned into some deeper questions, as he seemed very enthused to explain to me how he became a farmer. “What really made you stick with farming and make this into your career.” “He said my family really gave me the confidence to do this because everything that I learned was from them. When I first began I was only learning about little things and I thought it was going to be easy and fun because at 9 years old I was allowed to drive the tractor in the field.” I chuckled at that statement and said “you were driving a tractor around the field at the age of 9?” “Yes I was, my father would let me drive the tractor through the field to pick up whatever was needed whether it was bails of hay or equipment that was used during that day. I also really learned to respect the animals and realize the amount of hard work that was put into producing the food that we ate, it wasn’t easy that’s for sure.”
“When did you start your own farm and what is the nature of your farm.” He laughed after I asked this question. “I started Little Acres Farm in 1971 which I know is longer then you probably imagined. When the farm started we only had a little bit of land out back behind the house, which provided enough room for some livestock. The size of the farm has grown over the years after I taught my son, Jeremy about how to properly farm just like my father and grandfather did to me. The land that Little Acres Farm occupies is about 30 acres.”
“So what foods/farming are you involved in producing” I asked because having to me what seems like an abundance of land should result is a lot of crops/produce. “We mainly deal with livestock mainly just sheep and goats. We will sell the hair from these animals because it brings back a pretty good turn on investment and it also doesn’t hurt the animals. We also sell hay and some other cash crops. Cash crops are just an agricultural crop that we can make a profit from. Potatoes, corn and eggs are the only cash crops that we sell.”
“How does your farming vary throughout the year?” I asked since we can experience some pretty harsh winters and cold months. “Mostly throughout the winter months are farming doesn’t really vary as much as you would think. We constantly put potatoes and eggs into storage so that we can continue to sell whatever we can and the sheep and goats breed during this time. I enjoy these slower months because it gives me time to be able to replace any of the equipment that broke down over the course of the year that we fixed quickly so we can keep up with all the work. The winter months are the time that everything gets fixed properly.”
“How many people are employed by you?” His response was very surprising and I was pleased that I asked it. “I have no employees. I do all of my work by myself with some assistance from my son who offers his time to help when he is not doing work on his farm as well. I also have my grandson who will come and help to keep things up to pace if we slowly start to fall behind, which doesn’t happen that often. For the most part though it is just myself tending to the crops, taking care of the animals. It does take longer to get things done but I don’t mind I just keep going at it because I know it has to be done.”
“How many hours on average do you work days usually consist of?” This question was very important to me because I know this type of work is not easy and takes hard work. “Well in the winter my work days are usually about 8 hours or so but that sometimes varies. Usually once I have all the equipment that has been fixed I don’t really have a whole lot of other work that needs to be done but I stay busy finding things. In the spring, summer and sometimes in the fall is when I really make up for mostly an easy couple months during the winter. During this time, work days can last anywhere between 14-16 hour days. These couple months get very long and strenuous and it starts to take a toll on my body especially each year that I get older.”
“What is your biggest concern with your business?” I was waiting to ask this question so with wide eyes I listened and wrote down very tentatively. “I’m not really concerned about that much because with the contracts that I have for the crops that doesn’t concern me a great deal and I have always believed in whatever happens in life it is for a reason. I would have to say though that mother nature does concern me even though it is something that all farmers have to deal with and unfortunately it is something that none of us can control. We take whatever happens and hope to prevail from it.”
“What are you feelings about organic farming and do you sell anything organic?” I was curious to hear his feelings and what he thought. “I don’t like organic farming because I don’t think it will ever take over the normal food supply. I can buy a regular 100 lb. bag of potato seed for the price that I can purchase a 25 lb. bag of organic potato seed. I understand where people come from with going organic but for smaller farmers like myself it is too hard to do it. I don’t have anything against organic farming but it is just something that doesn’t fit into my farming lifestyle.”
“Where do you get the foods from that your family consumes?” I was really interested to see where a farmer gets produce that they do not farm themselves. “The potatoes and eggs we farm is what we eat all year round and never have to buy them because we have storage for them. Meats and poultry we buy from another local farmer who deals with that and than for vegetables and things like that if we cannot buy them from a farmer’s market we will go to the grocery store and get the things we need. We really try to avoid that because we know how much work and effort goes into farming that we like getting our foods from other farmers as they do with us.”
My last question that I asked was “if you could change your life into something else would you?” “I wouldn’t give up everything that I have done since I was a young kid. While it would be nice to be rich, I know I have a better respect and knowledge about hard work and what it takes to make an honest living. I worked hard, my family worked hard, and now I see my kids and grandkids doing the same thing in their everyday lifestyle and that makes me proud. In my eyes anyone could get lucky and get rich but to work long hard hours takes a certain someone and that is why I wouldn’t change a thing. I wanted to do this my whole life and I stuck to it and I have no regrets.”
After such a long in-depth conversation that Myron and I had I could tell when the interview had come to an end that he seemed very pleased as did I with how well everything went. I was grateful that he had allowed me to come to his place and allow me to see what all went into farming and actually question him and get some very good answers. He said to me once we had finished “I just wanted to thank you for coming and interviewing and sort of seeing how it is from my perspective. This was the first time that anyone has ever asked me to do anything relative to this for them.” I was definitely taken back by him telling me that and I felt that there was a very pleasing moment for him that he seemed very overwhelmed with.
As we wrapped everything up and the interview drew to an end I thanked him and let him know how much I appreciated him taking time out of his schedule to meet with me and answer all the questions I had. I could not have been any happier with the whole interview, Myron was so helpful with everything. He really provided a good understanding of a lot of different aspects of farming that at sometimes may be overlooked and he also really made me think about my outlook on life and what I want to do. Like he said “in my eyes anyone could get lucky and get rich but to work long hard hours takes a certain someone and that is why I wouldn’t change a thing” and that really gave me a different perspective. Leaving this interview I not only have better knowledge from a farming perspective and the amount of work that it takes just to make a living but also on life itself. I could see why a small farm that is run by essentially only one person is very successful in a relatively small area. He showed whatever you want to achieve in life has to be worked hard for and he made that very clear throughout the interview.