Down on the farm: Family enjoys rural life

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

SYMMES TOWNSHIP -Running a family farm on the outskirts of Lawrence County may be hard work, but the Carpenter family would not have it any other way.

John and Linda Carpenter and their two children grow tobacco and hay on

40 acres of their 103-acre farm. Located along the northern edge of Symmes Township along County Road 210, the Carpenter farm is where "The Dart" found its mark this week.

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For Linda, who grew up about three miles away on a family farm just across the Gallia County line, hard work and farming has

been a part of her life as long as she can remember, through the good years and the bad.

"The Lord has always taken care of us and blessed us," she said. "Even with all the water this year and losing the hay and tobacco, I would not trade it for the world."

As she takes a break from walking behind a tiller grinding up the hard, brown dirt, the heat of the June sun does not seem to faze her.

"Farming is what I have always known," she said. "Even though I am tilling, it is hot and I am sweating, there is a cool breeze. I truly enjoy it."

So far, this year has been tough on the Carpenters and other farmers. They put a lot of the tobacco crops out early but lost about two-thirds of them, Linda said. She was out Wednesday trying to salvage what was left.

"It is not just us," she said. "Everyone up and down this creek lost all kinds of crops."

The Carpenters drive into Ironton when they need supplies. Linda said she definitely considers herself a Lawrence Countian, but the city life is just not for her.

"I lived in Ironton for a little while when I was young. The train noises and city noise kept us up at night," she said. "There is just nothing like the country once you live here."

The one thing that gets Linda to change the subject from farming is her two children - Jonda and Derek. Jonda is a senior at Shawnee State University who will soon graduate with with a degree in art education.

"She is not going to be a farmer," she says with pride in her voice and eyes. "But, she likes to help out with the farm work."

Fifteen-year-old Derek Carpenter makes time around attending high school at Symmes Valley and playing football to help his father who is a full-time employee of CSX Railroad. Despite the early mornings and late evenings, Derek said he does not mind.

"All of it is alright with me. I like being out in the sun," he said. "I usually come out in the morning about 8 a.m., go to football and then come out until 9 p.m."

He knows what he is doing on the tractor and moves bails of hay quickly across the field as the family dogs Rocky and Rambo run through the dusty field.

Having Derek in the fields has truly been a tremendous help, Linda said.

"We do not come in until dark," she said. "And we usually crawl to the door."

While Derek does not mind most of the work, he said that hands down worst part about farming is hoeing the tobacco.

Linda just laughs.

"He looked at me the other day and said, 'This has got to be sort of what hell is like,'" Linda said. "I said, 'Yeah, but you will not have a sharp hoe, the weeds will not stay cut and you won't have any water."