In Lincoln County, Josh and Katie Steward’s dream of establishing their first generation wheat farm has become a reality. It remains to be seen if it’s a dream shared by their children: Jack, 12; Sadie, 9; and Gracie, 4.
“This was Katie and mine’s dream,” explained Josh. “If they don’t want to do it, can we support them in another way? We encourage them to see what else is out there. We’d love to see at least one come home, but if they didn’t, I think we are okay with that, too. We understand that this is what we wanted to do.”
The Stewards started farming in 2011, when they were able to lease land from retiring farmers, Jim and Sue Els. In the intervening years, they’ve increased their leased acreage and upgraded equipment. They grow mostly dryland wheat, although this year, they put a couple of acres into canola. They are considering transitioning to a no-till system. Josh’s father works on the farm, and their children, especially Jack, help out. Josh said the biggest lesson he’s learned is that you can’t control everything.
“I’m learning that some things just happen. You just have to make changes and go along with it, like calling an audible in football,” he said.
“Being efficient with time and equipment,” Katie added. “I didn’t realize how much that was going to play into it.”
As harvest 2023 wrapped up, the Stewards said they are focusing on increasing their efficiency, following the advice of Dr. David Kohl, a popular ag speaker and writer, that better is better before bigger is better.
“That’s where we are at now, trying to figure out how to get better,” Josh said. “We’ve got the acres, so it’s how to be more efficient and be better at what we do.”
The Stewards are active on social media, posting pictures of their farm life. They say it helps them connect with people and hopefully debunk common farming myths, like farmers drown their wheat in Roundup.
“A lot of people don’t understand where food comes from, or what it takes to get food to the grocery store,” Josh said. “There’s lots of false information out there. There’s been a few people I’ve had good conversations with. I hope they went away with a better understanding (of farming).”
Follow the Stewards on Facebook at @StewardFarmsInc and Instagram at @stewardfarmsinc.