Tindalls honored with Century Farm award
By Jolene Stevens
Clark Tindall's family's agricultural heritage and history he says are things "very important" to him and his family.
The land is the source of all sustenance for everyone," he said. "This is I feel especially true when you farm and when you consider what everyone went through in the '80s when we had a period of time not nearly as good as now. That was a time I thought I'd never live to see us with a Century Farm."
Much to the contrary Tindall, his wife Nancy, a teacher in the Akron-Westfield School District and their daughter, Kathryn, an Iowa State University freshman, have this week been recognized as Iowa Century Farm owners.
The award presented Tuesday at the Iowa State Fair recognizes the family's ownership of an 80-acre parcel of farmland as an Iowa Century Farm through the Century and Heritage Farm Program sponsored by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship and the Iowa Farm Bureau.
The farm ground southwest of the Tindall's home farmstead and currently displaying a portion of his current soybean planting was originally owned by Tindall's grandparents, the late J. Clark and Cleo Tindall and was at one time later farmed by Tindall's father, the late Rollin Tindall.
His grandmother Tindall said had initially inherited the land from her parents, Frank and Mary Gable after early-day Tindall family members relocated to the local area from Sac County in the 1880's.
"According to the history of the land, it was initially given in 1856 to the state of Iowa," Tindall explained. "The state the same year transferred the farmland to Dubuque-Pacific Railroad for the building of a rail line, "possibly" from Dubuque to Sioux City.
A subsequent owner, John Kurtenacker, paid $640 for the entire 80-acre site. Later, in 1910 when Cleo Tindall's brothers, Art and Merton Gabel, family gained ownership of the land, their purchase price for the property was $18,400.
Tindall's admitted continued dedication to his agriculture heritage and life on the farm, and that of his wife and daughter, extends to his own approximately 1,000-acre "largely" he describes it as a 50/50 corn and soybean operation.
The major part of his farming operation is a conventional corn/soybean program, he said.
The operation currently also includes a 240-acre organic corn, soybeans and oats crop program in partnership with a Vermont investor whose family roots are in northwest Iowa, he added.
The organic soybeans are marketed largely at American Natural Soy, of Cherokee, primarily for organic livestock feed and corn at a Fremont, Neb. facility. A smaller quantity of oats is processed at a St. Ansgar, Ia. plant.
The organic farming program started nine years ago, Tindall said has been "fairly successful" for both himself and his Vermont farming partner.
He acknowledged such a program can mean extensive labor time and a required strict compliance to non-use of commercial organic weed control and more effective organic production rotation programs.
He feels, however, his returns on the organic crops "half again or twice as high" as those produced from his organic program "well worth" his efforts despite, he admits, some evidence of consumer resistance to organic food product costs ruing the recession.
"The program overall, however, I believe has been a good experience or as I sometimes say, experiment, I feel for both myself and the investor," Tindall added.
A past-president and active member of the Plymouth County Farm Bureau and former member of the Farmers Cooperative Co. Board, in Akron, Tindall said that while he's "very optimistic" long-term on agriculture, he doesn't overlook the possibility of some additional ups and downs in the near future.
"When things are as good as they are now, you sometimes expect the wheel to turn, and it wouldn't surprise me if we saw some harder times," he said. "At the same time agriculture and farming, if managed right, are always good. The steady history is that if you get through the hard times, both commodity and land prices are always likely to go up.
"Farming as it is right now is as good as I've seen it," he said. "It hasn't always been good. We had serious troubles in the '80s but we did get through them. We feel for the most part farming and living in a rural community has given us a pretty good life."
Tindall said above all he values the agricultural opportunities and values given him as a farmer.
"For me personally I feel I've been blessed by God in what we've achieved," he said.
"In farming while not taking away the importance of good management, I feel a lot of being able to be successful is just good luck. I like my grandfather in the 1930s was lucky enough that I did not have a lot of debt when the '80s hit. And, with the cycle of inflation I've been both blessed and lucky with things really working out for us. Our agricultural heritage is a big thing for us."