80-year-old farmer throws in the towel
Despite having polio at age 11, which left him with aches in his legs every morning, Robert Neuwirth of Lincolnville has farmed all his life. He began working with his father, John, at age 12 and hasn’t stopped.
Until now, that is.
He has decided to lease his 480 acres of land to a neighbor.
“After doing it for so long, it’s hard to give it up,” he said, “but farming has become a rat race with farms getting bigger and bigger. My machinery is getting old, and even used newer equipment is expensive.”
Neuwirth said some changes are hard to take.
“The way things used to be done, there is no comparison,” he said. “Roundup was all I needed to kill everything. I saw a list the other day of 184 chemicals that can be used for weed control.”
Neuwirth’s grandfather homesteaded in the area in 1886. He moved to another farm in 1901 that still is in the family. Neuwirth’s son, Duane, lives in the farmhouse.
Neuwirth and his wife, Rose Mary, have lived on their farm two and a half miles west of Lincolnville for 57 years. A tornado went through the farmyard years ago, and they worked hard to restore it to its original condition and improve it. Neuwirth takes pride in keeping an immaculate yard.
Duane works at AGCO in Hesston. He was helping his father harvest soybeans this week. Neuwirth said Duane was not interested in taking over the farm.
“Why should he give up a good-paying job for this?” he said.
Neuwirth doesn’t know what he will do to fill his time. He doesn’t have any hobbies. He wouldn’t mind having a simple job if one was available.
He helps care for Rose Mary, who has beaten cancer four times since she was 29. He also is involved in his church in Pilsen.
He has resigned himself to quitting the farming lifestyle.
“I decided to give it up and call it good,” he said.
Last modified Oct. 24, 2018