Harvest Heritage: The Schrader Family Farm

Local News

CHARLEsTON, Ill. (WCIA) — Many farm families today do a lot more than just raise corn and soybeans.

Jeff and Jill Schrader, who farm east of Charleston have a family labor force.

“We’ve got my oldest, Drew is 19,” says Jill Schrader. “The one in the yellow, our middle, Nate is 16. And Chet is 14. Drew attends Lakeland college and Nate and Chet are at Charleston High School.”

“This year I wasn’t in the combine hardly at all,” Jeff Schrader. “Just the boys were in the combines, we were truck driving and doing the other work.”

That other work expands from his farm to helping others and soil conservation.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve tripled our acreage so its grown a lot, we cut back on cattle,” says Schrader. “We switched to other operations like demolition work, some dirt work. We try to do all of our own dirt work so terraces, clean them out, fixing them, building new ones, done a few pond buildings and stuff like that.”

One major effort is removing lime from the Charleston water treatment plant and spreading it on farmland.

“We’re running three tankers and soon as we get done farming we’re spreading it on our fields and some of the neighbor’s fields,” says Schrader. “They furnish some of the labor so it works out for both of us.”

Even though she is a teacher, Jill is an integral part of the operation.

“The teaching profession really is perfect for something like that and for farming it really is, having the summers off,” says Jill Schrader. “That allows me to be home at a decent hour to get feeding done for cows, get meals to tractors, and those types of things.”

Why do they work so hard?

“We just don’t like to sleep around here, I reckon,” says Schrader. “It’s fun, enjoyable, it’s just part of farming.

“Once you got it in your blood, you’re there.”

As the future of the operation, Jeff Schrader says he just wants to pass it down to his boys.

“If they’re interested in it, just let them take it over and see how far they can go with it.”

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