A Farmer Forever: Letting Go and New Beginnings

More than 50 years have elapsed since I graduated from Big Sandy High School and 42 years since I finished my college education. But it was 40 years ago that my wife and I, and our 3 daughters (at the time), moved back to the family farm where both my father and I were raised. It’s hard to believe that in just two years’ time, the farm will celebrate its 100th anniversary—one hundred years since the marriage of my grandparents, Emmet and Alice Quinn in 1920, when they started the farm, and their family, together. For me, 2018 marks the beginning of a series of transitions, passing on many of the opportunities, from which I have benefited, to the next generation.

Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be a part of many businesses and ventures: Quiger Laboratory and Valley Toxicology in California, WindPark Solutions America here in Montana, and Montana Flour and Grains. And more currently: Kamut International, The Oil Barn®, Big Sandy Organics (Kracklin’ Kamut®), and of course, Quinn Farm and Ranch, all here in my hometown of Big Sandy, Montana. Each unique enterprise gave me the opportunity to make my mark and I look forward to turning them over to the next generation of good people. Currently, I am four months into my three-year transition to retirement—which may sound like a long time, but there’s still a lot to do. And I can’t really just give someone two-weeks’ notice.

The first phase of my retirement transition took place in April, which involved the bittersweet lease of my family farm to two bright and energetic young men: my former farm manager, Seth Goodman, and Chad Fasteson. Both, as you know, have been working with me for a few years and I have tried to teach them everything I know about organic farming on the northern great plains. I know they will do a great job and that they, and their families, will continue to enrich the community I still call home.

This particular transition, as I mentioned, is bittersweet. Taking a step back from the farm when it’s been such a central part of my life for so many years is quite hard. But it’s also a great joy to see young families join the community with the same enthusiasm of youth that I remember having when I returned home all those years ago. I look forward to the next three years and I will, of course, continue to keep you posted with each phase of my retirement transition—large and small.

For now, please join me in wishing Seth and Chad the very best as they begin their own organic farming endeavor as partners in their Sand Coulee Farm and Ranch enterprise.