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Faces of Harvest: Ruthann Spare
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The best answer to a complicated question is often the most obvious. Take Ruthann Spare. Searching for a future career path in college, she spent summers working on the family farm in Ellinwood. Eventually, she realized that returning home and farming full time was exactly the lifestyle she was looking for.
“I did not know what I wanted to do for forever,” she explained. “I ended up just loving being back on the farm.”
She and her husband Aaron moved from Manhattan to Ellinwood in May 2015 after he completed an agricultural engineering degree from Kansas State University. The couple married in August 2014 and Ruthann said the year since “has been a little hectic.”
Ruthann now farms with her father and grandfather on L Bar Farms. Ruthann’s grandfather Vernon DeWerff started L Bar Farms as a dairy, but the cows were gone before Ruthann was born. Today, her grandfather still helps out as she and her father John DeWerff farm 14 quarters of corn, soybeans and wheat. Husband Aaron also helps on the farm after commuting home from his day job in Hutchinson as an agricultural engineer. With no livestock to watch in winter months, Ruthann also recently accepted a cheer and dance coach position at Ellinwood High School for this next school year.
Not a Great First Wheat Crop
Her first wheat crop home full-time has not been a great one. Ruthann explained that their wheat was planted extremely late and remains very short due to dry winter conditions.
“Our wheat just did not have a chance from the beginning,” she said. “Dad was just not even going to mess with it.”
But, then the farm received 10 inches of rain in May, salvaging the crop but adding issues with rye. As a result, Ruthann and her father waited to harvest their own wheat while she caught up with soybean planting and he cut wheat for a cousin and a family friend in need. Luckily, the custom crew that typically leases their combines purchased their own machines this year, so Ruthann and her father were able to pitch in and help.
As expected, Ruthann reported that their own acres yielded poorly, ranging from 20 to 30 bushels per acre. Despite low yields, she said test weights averaged 60 bushels per acre.
Proving Herself
Even with less than ideal results, Ruthann is happy to complete her first wheat harvest of many at home on the farm. As a daughter taking over a family operation, however, Ruthann said she feels even more pressure to do the best job she can. She recalled always connecting with working with animals or riding on the combine, but preparing to take over the operation someday is a larger challenge - and one she is ready to meet.
“Since I was a little girl, I have loved this life style,” she said. “I want to prove I deserve to be here.”