Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

March 8, 2008

Farming tradition

SYRACUSE, Ind. — With nearly 7 inches of snow and ice recently covering each of the fields belonging to Bobeck Farms, Arlen Bobeck of Syracuse had plenty of time to reflect — not only on the farm life his great-grandfather passed down, but the future he leaves to his two sons and their families.

Six generations of Bobecks have worked the fields in the southeastern corner of Elkhart County since the 1880s, and today, few similarities in practice or product remain.

Arlen’s great-grandfather Nels immigrated from Sweden, purchased land and cleared it before sending for his family. Arlen’s grandfather was 7 when he arrived in Indiana, and the operation has expanded since then.

“I can’t imagine what my great-grandfather would think of farming today,” Arlen said. “His farm was 120 acres. We don’t know for sure if he started with all that or not, but his operation was very different than what we do now.”

The practice of “family farming” Arlen described — where every home had livestock and crops to sustain the family as well as product left over to sell for profit — has all but disappeared.

“When I was young, we milked cows, had farrow to finish hogs, sheep, horses and chickens,” Arlen said. “Crop rotation was important with corn, wheat, hay, and we put the animal manure on the fields as fertilizer. That’s the way everyone did it.”

The value of the era Arlen’s father Virgil raised him in, as well as the era of his grandfather and great-grandfather, was the value of community and helping one’s neighbors.

“When I look back, one thing that meant a lot to me and formed my life was that we worked as neighbors. Today, you hardly know your neighbors,” Arlen said. Farming communities were much like extended families years ago.

Text Only
Local News

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.

Goshen City Council member Dixie Robinson is asking residents to make an effort to clean up their yards this spring. The city’s Dial-A-Truck program is available to haul trash away. Do you think there are more unsightly properties in Goshen this year than five years ago?

Yes, I have noticed more problem properties
No, I have not noticed more problems
I think the problems are about the same as always
     View Results
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers