When Mike Barnes started farming in central New York in 1978, he had seven cows. “I worked my way up from there,” he says. He and Tammy met through Future Farmers of America while they were in high school and were instantly connected through their commitment to farming life. “I just knew I could never work inside,” Tammy says. Several decades, one farm, three kids and five grandkids later, they maintain an enduring love for the outdoors and working in agriculture.
The couple did not assume the next generation would take over, but they believed that their daughter and two sons benefited from growing up on the farm. “They learned a work ethic and the value of money,” Tammy explains. “We always said that if they did want to come back, they had to go somewhere else first.” Then one day, Tammy recalls, “Jed said, ‘Pops, what do you think? Is there room for me to come home?’” Once Jed indicated interest, Jacob wanted to join him and the brothers formed a partnership with their parents. Although Jessica, the eldest, works at a local school, her mom says, “She can be found on the [hay and corn] chopper whenever she can get out there.”