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The Jedlicka Family - 2009 Oregon County Farm Family

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Waking up before the sun shines to a fresh dew on the grass and the smell of hay bales in the morning is what many farmers in the area do. But, for some farmers it's a family affair with brothers and sisters helping out with chores and even the little ones getting their hands dirty in the garden. For this year's Oregon County Farm Family, the Jedlickas of Koshkonong, having the whole family help out on the farm is a normal part of their operations.

Dale Jedlicka, the man-of-the-house, was involved in farming from an early age. "I've grown up here in Oregon County and (farming) is all I've ever done," Dale said. "My family moved here in the late '60s, and I was born and raised here." Dale attended Koshkonong School.

Tonya, Dale's wife, is the agriculture teacher at West Plains High School. On days when she's not off with Junior Nationals or helping students show cattle, she's back at the farm helping the rest of the family with chores. She said when she's off with her students for an event, she considers that time her vacation because being a farmer is a 24-7 job.

Dale and Tonya were two local kids who hitched up. "I grew up at Rover, about four miles from where he grew up," Tonya said.

"Her dad used to shoe horses for us," Dale said. "I grew up knowing who she was but we went to different schools. She went to Alton. I went to Kosh. I'd known (Tonya's family) all my life."

"We started dating right after I turned 16," Tonya said. They've been married for 15 years.

The Jedlickas own or lease about 1,000 acres. "We run mainly purebred charolais herds and we have commercial cows, also," Dale said. The commercial cows are cross-bred. He said they background all the cattle and send them through a thorough vaccination program.

"We stress easy calving and high growth," Dale said.

"We sell bulls to commercial guys around here and market show heifers to kids in other states to show for show heifers," Dale said.

Speaking of show heifers, Dale and Tonya's daughter, Caitlin, 9, is involved in showing her cattle and with 4-H. "This is her first year showing," Dale said.

The family also custom combines during the summer for hay. They also sell hay to farmers who need it.

The Jedlickas also raise quarter horses that Dale trains to be rideable. "We'll see how the horse business goes after all this goes a bit better because I'm the one who does all the horse stuff," Dale said. What Dale was talking about, is that he's just getting used to working with one arm after a farming accident in July which left him with his left hand and cut off his arm above the elbow.

Unlike most families who would most likely view the sudden disability of a family member to be tragic, Dale, along with his wife and kids, seems to view the accident as more of a learning experience rather than a hindrance to the progress of their farm. "It's a new experience," Dale said. He said he's back to doing most of the things he would do before the accident and plans to keep farming.

"I'm not an inside person," Dale said about the issue.

"The farm isn't just me and (Tonya)," Dale said. "The farm's a family affair for us. I mean everybody's involved. My mom and dad (Tex and Betty), my brother (Mike), my sister (Melody Simpson) and her family (husband, Robert, and daughter, Teanna Simpson), we're all here on a daily basis doing something."

When Dale goes off to sell cattle or show livestock, part of the family stays at the farm to keep things going and make sure the animals are well fed and taken care of. "If we need them on sale day or show day at shows, they'll drive that day to where we're at and we all come home together," Dale said.

"If (Dale) and Mike both have to go (somewhere), his sister and her husband usually feed in the morning, and (Dale) and I will usually take care of stuff in the evening, depending on who gets home from work the earliest," Tonya said.

He said the family sells stock calves mainly at the sale barn in West Plains, but purebreds they sell across the United States. Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky and Kansas are among the states Dale said he has sold purebred cattle to this past year. "Some of (the farmers) come straight to me and then other ones all go to consignment sales in different areas," Dale said. "We carry cattle all over the country."

This year the Jedlickas planted a garden. While Dale and Tonya said Caitlin wasn't too enthusiastic about getting her hands and knees in the dirt, her little brother, Cody, 3, was all over it. "Cody, he'd play in the dirt all night, and he'd help me," Tonya said.

"Cody just wants to do anything we're doing," Dale said. "If the truck starts, he wants to be in it going to check cows or he's on the four-wheeler going to feed (the cattle)."

Cody and Caitlin also have their own little farm industry going with goats at the family's other farm.

"We're all very active in the farm," Dale said. "This is what I would call a true family farm because everybody is involved with no outside help."

"Anything you're doing in farming, you can never have too much family or good neighbors," Dale said. "Good family and good neighbors are priceless."

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