Farm living really grows on generations of Goetzes

2014-03-16T00:00:00Z 2014-03-16T00:02:07Z Farm living really grows on generations of GoetzesBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

Chris Goetz has at least one answer to the musical question: "How you gonna keep 'em down on the farm?"

Goetz and his wife, Christine, have five sons and a daughter. Three of the sons are involved with the family farm in Porter County, another son is a mechanic who works on farm machinery, and the fifth is president of a company that builds and sells irrigation systems for farms.

The family, along with his in-laws the Wyckoffs, own and operate Wyckoff Hybrids in Porter County. They grow and sell seed corn, soybeans, wheat, grasses and other cover crops.

"The secret is I took the boys out to work on the farm when they were young and taught them when they were at an age when it was fun and they were ready to soak up knowledge that farming was fun," Goetz said. "I made it a thing that was cool. My brother-in-law did the same thing."

The Goetz siblings are the fifth generation to farm that property since the first generation settled there in 1903.

"They are involved and excited about the business," Goetz said. "I hear some, when their kids are little, complain about what a tough job it is, and then they wonder why the kids don't want to do it. It's been a wonderful way to make a living.

"I'm working with my own sons and making a living. I'm not at the mill all day where they don't see me. They see me almost every day. It's a family operation, and we treat almost every aspect of it as a family operation."

Goetz said he started working on his future father-in-law's farm as a high school freshman in 1969, doing the "grunt" labor.

"I enjoyed being outdoors, and every day is a different challenge," he said. "I don't put ball bearings in a wheel all day every day. There's a lot of mental energy that goes into every day."

Farming has become a high-tech field in the last couple of decades. Goetz said he has a phone with the seven-day forecast and the current radar with him and a weather band radio in his combine and his fertilizer spreader. All the equipment has a computer.

The computers are connected to global positioning satellite systems that tell the machines how much fertilizer or water to spread anywhere on the farm, keep records of the crop yields and map it for study to see if areas need more care.

"Our younger people are challenged and enjoy the technology. They are all computer savvy and understand how to make it work. There's no one answer why they like the job. It could be the variety and the challenges."

As he approaches retirement age, Goetz said he is surrendering control of certain aspects of the business to the younger generation "because they do it better." Facets ranging from treating the seed, processing it and the sales have passed from his hands.

Matt Goetz handles the sales with help from dad, who said the job takes a full-time person to understand the market and what will be in demand from year to year.

"As they get old enough and are willing, I pass it on," the elder Goetz said. "There will be a day when I want to retire, and I don't want to leave a big gap when I do."

The sixth generation is on the way. It's a small army of 20 potential future farmers, but Goetz said the oldest is only 11, which is a little young to be doing more than little odd jobs.

"My kids were all driving tractors at 10 or 11 years old, but you can't do that now. They help with the small chores. We don't present it in a way that would turn them off. If you didn't believe in the future of the family, the country or our enterprise, you don't have any business being where you are."

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