Kelley Brothers, Grant County

By Trista Crossley


For five generations, Chuck Erickson’s family has been farming north of Hartline, Wash., in Grant County, but they haven’t always grown wheat.

“Originally, we were orchardists. At the homestead where I live, there were 18 acres of assorted fruit trees. They had to bucket water to the trees by hand,” explained Erickson. “Eventually, my great-great-great-grandmother told them they needed to find something different to do because she was tired of bucketing water up.”

This year, the sixth generation at Kelley Brothers, Grace and Noah Erickson, learned how to grease and blow out the combines each morning during harvest under the supervision of their father, Chuck, his wife, Timi, and grandfather, Gary. From left are Gary; Grace; long-time employee Mana Victorino holding his daughter, Maddyn, while his wife, Megan Victorino, holds Marlee Jo; Timi; Chuck; and Noah.

Erickson is the fifth generation on his family’s farm, established in 1889 as Kelley Bros., which he runs with his father, Gary. They primarily grow wheat, barley and, occasionally, canola. Harvest is a true family affair with Erickson’s two children, Grace (13) and Noah (12), and his wife, Timi, all pitching in, along with their long-time truck driver, Mana Victorino.

Noah Erickson’s task on this particular day was to get as much dust off the combines as possible.

Grace Erickson tackled the greasing as her grandfather, Gary, looked on. Throughout harvest, the siblings alternated these duties, making sure the machines were ready to go each morning.

Erickson’s mother, Chris, helps with the bookkeeping and is a crucial part of the decision-making team.

This year, Grace and Noah got their hands dirty, literally, as they learned to blow out and grease the combines each morning. Grace also began learning to drive the combine. Erickson said he farms because it’s his heritage, and he hopes his children will continue the tradition.

Timi Erickson and her father-in-law, Gary, pause to discuss the best way to tackle a draw where wheat kept clogging up the header on the combine.

“This is what my family’s done for pushing 150 years. It’s an honor for me to continue that tradition, and I hope I’m instilling that same pride in my kids,” he explained.

Another family tradition involves hats.

“We have a harvest tradition that whatever hat you start wearing at the beginning of harvest, you have to wear all the way through,” Erickson explained. “On the very last day of harvest, it gets sent through the combine, and then we have to take a picture with the trashed hats. We’ve done it ever since I can remember, and I don’t have a clue how it started.”

The Erickson family ties to their Grant County farm stretch back more than 100 years. The farm was first settled in 1889 as an orchard, where 18 acres of fruit trees were watered by hand using buckets. Now the main crop is dryland wheat, with some barley and canola being grown.

The family trucks their grain to the HighLine Grain Growers elevator in Hartline.