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Mixing homework with home work

By Staff | Oct 12, 2018

Austin Richardson, left, counts rows of kernels and corn maturity in his cornfield with his father, Roger Richardson.



VENTURA – Roger Richardson remembers a day when his family was on a vacation, spending time in a swimming pool at Kansas City.

Richardson said his son, Austin, who was 9 years old at that time, told him, “I want to buy a tractor.”

“You can buy a tractor, ” said Richardson to his son. “You’ll have to pay for it.”

His son thought Dad would buy a tractor and just pay for it.

Then Richardson told his son, “You’ll have to borrow the money.”

When Austin Richardson heard this, his dad said, “He turned white as a sheet.”

Today, the younger Richardson is 13 years old, stands 5 feet, 8 1/2 inches tall and is in the eighth grade.

He also owns a tractor – a Case-IH model 105U.

Father and son searched for a tractor that would be a good fit for Austin and found the Case-IH tractor at a dealer in Hartford, Wisconsin. They drove to Wisconsin in the spring of 2015.

The dealer told the Richardsons that area dairy farmers were suffering and that had impacted his business. He needed to sell a tractor. Since there was no trade-in and the dealer wanted to help a young farmer buy his first tractor, he made the deal especially attractive.

Austin Richardson had his financing arranged and wrote the first check of his life for $39,000. His father helped with an additional $5,000.

The younger Richardson’s lender did ask Dad to co-sign, which Roger Richardson did. However, the lender also told Dad that Austin’s assets might have been enough without the co-signature.

Austin Richardson is in his third year of farming with 14 acres of soybeans and 26 acres of corn. He owns three Angus cross cows and seven sheep.

Besides his tractor, he owns a four bottom plow, 16-foot field cultivator and has a half-interest with his dad on a planter.

And as an eighth-grader, Richardson is a student at GHV school, where he goes to class in theater arts, band and physical education for two and a half hours every day. He plays baseball and the baritone in band at school.

His mother, Shelly, home schools him for three hours each day on math, grammar, science, spelling and social studies.

“We squeeze lunch in between,” said Mom. “It depends if there are sheep loose in the yard.”

“I go farm with my dad the rest of the day,” Richardson added.

When not in school or farming, Richardson is working towards completion of being an Eagle Scout. He is about halfway there and is currently helping replace a double door with a stained glass window at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Ventura as his service project requirement.

Richardson is in his fourth year as a member of the Ventura Hustlers 4-H club. His projects have been in photography, wood working, beef calves, market beef, sheep and art work. He has served as treasurer of the 4H club.

This fall, he has worked with his dad, who operates the bagging machine for silage while the younger Richardson drives between the bagger and field.

He has also done custom work chopping stalks and raking hay.

At home he has drilled oats and succotash and run the combine a couple of years.

“He actually planted my row crop beans this year,” said Roger Richardson.

His plans after high school are no surprise.

“I’ll probably keep farming,” the younger Richardson said.

His education will continue outside the classroom as well. He has worked on a dairy farm for a couple days and wants to work for a lawn mowing service in the Ventura area.

He is learning mechanics and tiling from his dad.

Listening to the conversation between Roger and Austin Richardson, there are the predictable father-son exchanges, and there is the competitive talk between two farmers as to whose has the better crop or bigger yield.

But there is also the tone of two people who are farming as partners.

Roger Richardson told how that past summer when it was so wet, he sent Austin out to rake hay ahead of his baling.

As the field was just being done baled, it started to rain. Without Austin working ahead of him, Roger said the baling could not have been completed.

What does next year hold for the younger Richardson as he enters high school?

“Next year he’ll have his own operating note for 2019 inputs,” said Dad.

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