By Robert Lucke
Kevin Springer is a happy man. That is strange considering the fact that he is a farmer and it has not rained or snowed for months on end. And he has winter wheat planted. And many of his neighbors have put their land into CRP and moved away.
But then he is a farmer and most of them are glorious optimists or they would have left the land years ago. Hence, he is a happy man.
Springer has farmed most all of his life. He started farming with his father, Fred Springer, then got an agriculture degree at Montana State University-Bozeman and bought his own land in 1983.
Springer lives on his land west of Kremlin with his wife, Lisa, and children Taylor, Cassy and Katelyn. He works as a salesman in Havre for Moodie Implement so he can continue to be in farming.
And he is not in the least uneasy with temperatures in the 50s in the middle of January.
"There is nothing to be nervous about," he said. "You can't change it. You just have to figure ways around it."
He admits this is as dry as he has ever seen his land.
In spite of poor prices, Springer continues to grow wheat on his land.
"Years ago we did some experimenting in alternative crops but found they were hard to market and we didn't have the equipment we needed," Springer said. "And then with two jobs, raising wheat is something that we can get done in a hurry."
Convenience is why Springer plants winter wheat.
"We put in a little winter wheat every year. We need it for rotation and it breaks up the spring work," Springer said.
Like so many others, Springer has thought of putting his land in in the Conservation Reserve Program, in which the federal government pays farmers to set their land aside.
"Everybody probably thinks about putting their land in CRP but I didn't buy the ground to grow grass," he said. "However, I just finished my taxes and that makes me think about it. But then I think that it is one of the worst things that has happened in this country. There is not even any place to rent if you want to farm and are just starting out, with the government paying probably around $35 an acre average to grow grass."
Still, making no money and having to work two jobs to farm, Springer would do nothing else.
"It must be in my blood," he says with a smile.
Not only that but he thinks his son Taylor will be following right along in his dad's footsteps.
"Taylor, who is 11, will walk 3 miles just to drive the pickup a hundred feet," Springer said.
Wife Lisa is a stay-at-home mom.
"She keeps us all going," Springer said. "She used to work in Havre doing hair but it was too expensive driving back and forth and we would have to pay for day care too."
Ask Springer the worst thing about farming and it takes about a half second for him to respond that it would be nice to get a fair price for wheat. He would like the government to get out of the wheat business but thinks that will never happen.
"And it really makes me mad to when our government issues trade injunctions to other large countries and will not let us sell our wheat to them. The country just buys it from someone else. That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it? he asked. "It would be like us not selling someone a John Deere because we didn't like them. They would just go and buy it somewhere else. Big deal.
What makes Springer happy is simply just growing things and figuring ways to make them grow better.
"And you always know that next year is going to be better," he said.