When Graeme Glaser of rural Peabody gets up each morning, he goes out to take care of his livestock. It is something he has done all his life as a career farmer and agriculturist - take care of things.
Since 1978 Glaser and his wife, Diane, have farmed in Marion County, raising crops and livestock. Since Oct. 1 this year, he has been hauling water to his 25 cows every other day, stretching resources to combat drought conditions in central Kansas.
“I am just trying to keep them out on grass as long as possible,” Glaser said on Monday. “These times remind me of the 50s, when we had three or four years of drought. We’ve had about two so far, so I expect another year or so before things turn around.”
Glaser has experience farming; he has experience taking care of things responsibly. When asked recently to fill a position on a Farm Service Association ballot for election to a committee that oversees farm programs, Glaser said yes.
“It’s a thankless job, but somebody has to do it,” he said. “I guess it’s my turn, my duty.”
Glaser understands duty. Prior to moving to Marion County in 1978, he worked for DeKalb in agriculture research at stations in Wichita, Dumas, Texas, and Elk City, Okla. He also served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, a 2nd Lieutenant during the Vietnam War.
“I was ROTC at Kansas State University in the 60s,” he said. “I was a survey instructor, but when they came through and needed us for the war, I was assigned to the 1st Infantry Platoon on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”
In 1966 Glaser served as a forward observer in the artillery division in Vietnam.
“I was embedded right in the infantry,” he said. “It was my job to call in artillery strikes as needed, which we did quite often.”
The Ho Chi Minh Trail was a network of roads built from North Vietnam to South Vietnam through Laos and Cambodia. Glaser was positioned on the main traffic road from north to south for one year, where the average life expectancy of a soldier was less than a week.
“I felt very lucky to get out,” he said. “Many of my very good friends didn’t make it.”
Glaser said he thinks about those friends often, almost every day, especially around Veterans Day.
“I’ve never been one to talk about it much,” he said. “If you weren’t there you just don’t understand it.”
On Feb. 9, 1967, the U.S. Army awarded Glaser a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement in ground operations against hostile forces.
After his term of duty was over, Glaser came home to a wife and child, and picked up life where he left off, in agriculture.
“They wanted me to sign up for more, and I did spend four years in the reserves,” Glaser said. “But I figured I’d done my duty, so I came home.”
After a few more years in Oklahoma, home for the Glasers became Marion County. They raised three children, crops and cattle on a farm four miles west of Peabody before moving to their current location north of Peabody just west of 110th and Nighthawk.
“There is not a lot of other places I’d rather be,” Glaser said. “It’s beautiful here. There are more trees in Kansas than in Oklahoma. Sure, it gets hot and dry, but not as hot and dry as Texas. It gets cold, but not for that long, and not as cold as further north.”
Glaser owns a quarter section of land in Catlin Township where he still runs a 25-head cow/calf operation. He has leased out his farm ground to younger farmers in the area.
“We’re slowing down some,” he said. “My wife and I like to travel to see our kids and grandchildren when we get a chance. We just recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a trip to Ireland.”
At age 70, he said he enjoys having more time to participate in church, community, and farm program activities.
“Part of my life has been really busy,” he said. “I didn’t always have time to serve as I wanted, but I think it is each person’s responsibility to serve in whatever capacity they can to keep our country strong.”
In addition to serving with the FSA, Glaser is a member of the Marion County Rural District Water Board. He and his wife are members of the United Methodist Church in Peabody.