End of an era

The Last Load

McBees bid farewell to generational farming

Members of the McBee family pose in a field during harvest this year. Four generations of the McBee family have worked the farm started by Jerry’s grandfather, Martin Z. McBee in 1902. This year marks the end of that generational family farming.
Members of the McBee family pose in a field during harvest this year. Four generations of the McBee family have worked the farm started by Jerry’s grandfather, Martin Z. McBee in 1902. This year marks the end of that generational family farming.
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This past October, family and friends of Jerry and Nancy McBee gathered to celebrate a bountiful harvest — and the end of an era.

Four generations of the McBee family have worked the farm started by Jerry’s grandfather, Martin Z. McBee in 1902. This year marks the end of that generational family farming. Though they were sad to see this long history of farming come to an end, Jerry and Nancy knew the time was right to do so.

Jerry and Nancy have experienced many joys, as well as challenges, during their 65 years of farming. Life lessons were plentiful on the farm. They learned how to be good stewards of the land and the animals, how to plant crops in faith and wait with patience. They felt joy and wonder as new life emerged on the farm from the tender shoots of corn and beans pushing through the soil, to the newborn hogs and cattle they raised.

For Jerry and Nancy, their greatest source of joy came from raising their five children, Mark, Connie, Jim, Mary and Bill, on the farm and watching them grow and mature. They worked hard together as a family, but also recognized the importance of setting aside time for fun and relaxation. Cherished memories were made from numerous boating and camping trips. Jerry fondly recalls the whole family pitching in to bale hay. The kids knew that when the last load was finished, they would go to Lake Holiday for boating and skiing. As they worked, Jerry often heard that hopeful question, “Is this the last load?” Eventually that last load was finished and their hard work was rewarded with time for pleasure. The McBee siblings credit their parents for being excellent role models, and instilling values that continue to govern their lives.

Over the many years of farming, the McBees have witnessed many changes. The size of farm machinery has increased from a mounted two row corn picker to a six row combine. Crop yields have doubled and prices increased. They constructed their own grain setup and remodeled a big red barn that has stood on the property since 1902. But some things remained the same — like the gratification that comes from a hard days work of tending the land and then enjoying the fruits of their labor.

Most of all, the McBees have witnessed God’s hand in everything. Prior to the celebration, the family attended church together and thanked God for the blessings of faith, family and farming. Afterward, as family and friends gathered around, stories were shared and many treasured memories of life on the farm were recalled. It was a day of mixed emotions, but the overriding feeling was one of deep satisfaction and contentment knowing they fulfilled their life’s work, for which they have been truly blessed with five children, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

For Jerry and Nancy, the last load is finished and they look forward to what the next season of life will yield.

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