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Daughter follows in father's bootprints

Staff writer

A lot of high school graduates move on to college or a trade school, but after spending two years at Kansas State University, Sienna Kaufman decided to come back home and help her father, Tim Kaufman, at their ranch in Durham.

“I couldn’t stand sitting in a dorm room studying,” Sienna said. “I would come home every weekend. If there was a day I could come home, I was home.”

The Kaufman family has been farming in Kansas since 1912, when Tim’s grandfather came to Kansas from Russia. The Kaufmans grow corn, soybeans, wheat, and milo, and raise cattle. The chickens running around the property are from when Sienna’s college roommates tried to raise them in their dorm.

Tim and Sienna have been farming for as long as they can remember.

“She used to get in trouble and have to ride in the tractor with me,” Tim said, laughing.

“That was my time-out,” Sienna added.

She remembers helping her dad roll up fence.

“He put my brother and me in the old Chevy truck. He’d give us a two-by-four to put the gas on, and we’d roll it up and he’d make sure it was rolling up all right,” Sienna said. “That was one of my first memories. We couldn’t even reach the pedals. We would have been 4.”

Tim has similar memories.

“I can remember riding a tractor without a cab. I don’t know how old I was, helping dad,” he said. “We’d go out and that’s what we’d do in the summer. Farming’s a way of life. We did whatever needed to be done.”

Sienna grew up with a love for the outdoors. She was taught how to ride a horse before she could walk and competed in rodeos at 13.

“I just like being outside,” she said. “It’s the only life I’d ever want to live. If I had to choose any other life, it would be this —over and over and over.”

Now she’s living her dream — helping at her dad’s ranch on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and the weekend while on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, she’s a farm hand at the Harms Plainview Ranch in Lincolnville.

In the fall, she’ll put in 20 miles a day on horseback while helping the Harms, riding from sun up to past sundown.

“She has a love for livestock. I can see that in her,” Tim said. “She’s really good with the cattle; she’s really good on a horse.”

Sienna probably wouldn’t disagree.

“As long as I’m on a horse, that’s where I’m the happiest,” Sienna said.

Tim can understand her initial struggle to find her place.

“I think a lot of kids are like that,” he said. “I’ve got a son that just graduated from high school; he’s not sure what he wants to do. He wants to come back to the farm, but he doesn’t know if he wants to go to college, or tech school, or what he wants to do. It’s tough for kids to know at 18 years old what you’re gonna do for the rest of your life.”

“Especially now,” Sienna said. “Everyone goes to college, and it’s like if you don’t go to college, then they look at you differently. I went to college for two years and I knew it wasn’t for me; college isn’t for everyone.”

But it did give her enough time to learn that she wanted to do ranching like her father.

Last modified June 17, 2021

 

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