Union County Farmer Recognized as Iowa Good Neighbor Award Winner for April

04-26-2006 in Good Farm Neighbor

“Good fences make good neighbors.”  That is the slogan that Dick and Shirley Ide of Union County live by each day and one of the reasons they were recognized as the April recipients of the Good Farm Neighbor Award.

The Ides, who farm near Shannon City, Iowa, were presented with a plaque and proclamation during award ceremonies held on their farm April 21.  More than 40 attended including family, friends, neighbors and reporters.

“I was so surprised to be nominated,” said Dick who, with wife Shirley, manages a cow-calf herd and grows corn and soybeans.  “This is a great neighborhood and always has been.”

The award, presented by the Iowa Ag Radio Network and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, is given monthly to an Iowa livestock farmer who demonstrates through action what it means to be a good neighbor.   The Coalition to Support Iowa’s Farmers helps sponsor the award.

“They’re very deserving folks and we are thrilled for them,” said Vera Long who, along with husband Vernon, own property bordering the Ides.  “They’re just a really great family!”

“They have been wonderful neighbors for many years,” Vernon added.  “I wanted to let the whole state know that there’s lots of great neighbors in southwest Iowa.  Dick has been a mentor to me through the years; he’s very conservation-minded.  Dick’s always said that good fences make good neighbors, and that’s really true.”

Dick discovered his love for farming when he began working the land and raising livestock with his father and brother on the farm he currently operates.  He also discovered his true love – wife Shirley – while attending high school.  Shirley grew up just across the county line, in Ringgold County.  The two were married in 1955 and moved to their current home in 1959.  Being married over 50 years is something in which they take a great deal of pride.

Family is another source of pride for the Ides, who have three children and eight grandchildren.  Susan (Ide) White and her husband Steve live in Creston where she works as a nursing instructor at Southwestern Community College.  Barbara (Ide) Crittenden serves as the President of Southwestern Community College and, along with husband Steve, live in Creston.  Dan Ide and wife Barb live and Creston.  Dan is a firefighter in Des Moines.

“Dick has farmed his entire life, he grew up doing it; it just came naturally to him,” said Shirley when asked about her husband’s choice of farming as a career.  “He enjoys all parts of farming. He especially likes to watch things grow in the spring, when everything just comes to life.”

Farming, of course, is not without its challenges and changes.  Shirley said the long hours that one has to endure when farming has probably been the least enjoyable part of their years on the farm.

The Ides have also watched family farms grow larger and consolidate to achieve economies of scale and sale.  A decline in the number of farmers means they now have fewer neighbors today than in the past. And the growth of Iowa’s farms has transformed the machinery needed to tell the land, plant seed and harvest crops.

And although much has changed, Dick and Shirley note that the progress has been fairly gradual.  “We’ve adjusted well,” they say.

Shirley’s advice to young people interested in farming is simple.

“I would tell young people that farming is a good life, one that is very rewarding,” she said.  “You have to realize that the days are long and the rewards aren’t always financial, but each day you’ll be emotionally rewarded.”

She also has advice for other farmers on being a good neighbor.

“Help out when others are in need.  It’s important to recognize when your help is needed.”

The Ides are active in Platte Center Presbyterian Church, Union County Farm Bureau, and Iowa Cattlemen’s Association.  In addition to farming, they enjoy spending time with their children and grandchildren, camping and traveling.

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