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Generational farmers, deep roots

The Wood family farm. All pictures taken by Allie Schiltz

And on the 8th day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, “I need a caretaker.”  So God made a farmer.

God had to have somebody willing to ride the ruts at double speed to get the hay in ahead of the rain clouds and yet stop in mid-field and race to help when he sees the first smoke from a neighbor’s place.  So God made a farmer.

These  words from Paul Harvey’s 1978 ‘So God Made a Farmer’ Speech ring true to every farmer in America, especially generational farmers like the Wood family.

The Scoop sat down with the Woods to gain some insight into generational farming and what keeps the family name going from generation to generation.

Carl Wilson Wood was the first of the C.W. Woods, then came Charles William Wood who named his son Clark Wilson Wood.  Clark has three sons, whom he named Caleb Woodson Wood, Colby William Wood, and Casey Weston Wood.  Caleb has one son, Charles (Charlie) Winston Wood, named after his great-grandpa, and Colby has two sons who are named Carter Wyatt Wood and Cash Waylon Wood.

Charles Wood, says “There’s now nine of us with C.W.W initials.”

Charles Wood, the oldest living of the C.W.W generation.

Charles is the oldest living with the C.W.W initials.  He’s spent many years on his farm, building up what him and his father started, to pass on to the next generation.

“I’ve been in this township for 85 years, I moved in the house I live in now in the year ’55 so I’ve been here 67 years.”

When asked what made him decide to keep with the family business, Charles said, “When I was ten years old, I was dreaming about driving a tractor. I was so anxious to get out on the field. Dad had an old steel wheeled Farm-All tractor, which I couldn’t drive at that age, but I couldn’t wait for the day I could.”

Charles eventually did get on a tractor, and he must have got pretty good at it because in 1952 he was named one of Missouri’s American Farmers.  When asked how he received the American Farmer award, Charles said, “You can have one American Farmer for each 1000 FFA members, and Missouri at that time had 12,000 so there was 12 of us who made American Farmer that year.”  His son Clark followed in his footstep and was named American Farmer in 1982.

So what makes a great farmer?  Charles said, “The thing that I’ve tried to pass on to my son is that it’s your reputation that matters.  It takes years to build up an honest reputation and for people to know who you are.”

This reputation has been passed on to his son Clark, who has in turn passed it onto his kids.

From left to right, Casey Wood, Colby Wood, Clark Wood, Caleb Wood, and Caleb’s son, Charlie.

Asked when he decided to carry on the family business of farming, Clark said, “I decided when I was a junior in high school.  I bought 80 acres of ground and that’s when I decided, I better farm.  I enjoyed farming, and running the equipment and I never thought of doing anything else.  But when I bought my first 80 acres, that’s when I really got involved in farming.”

Although farming has been passed on from generation to generation, the Woods stress that they never felt they had to become farmers.

“I never pushed my kids to farm,” Clark says.  I gave them the option and the responsibility of farming.  For me, farming gave me the responsibility of taking care of crops, and I wanted my kids to have that as well.”

Caleb, Clark’s oldest son, says “At twelve years old, dad gave me 15 acres that I got to take care of and decide what to do with.  I worked the ground, and learned how to do things on my own, with dad’s guidance.”

When asked when he decided he wanted to carry on the family tradition of farming, Caleb said, “I probably decided I wanted to become a farmer when I was five years old.  I’ve always loved being outside, working in the fields, and working with my hands instead of being inside somewhere.”

Will his son Charlie, who is seven years old, carry on the family tradition?  Caleb replies, “He says he wants to farm when he grows up, but we’ll see if he wants to or not. I’m not going to tell him he can’t.”

A picture of the family farm hanging in Charles Wood’s house.

The Wood family now farms over 2000 acres.  With the strong family bond that they share it’s no doubt the C.W.W name will continue for many more generations.