The Carmony family business stinks

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sam and ross carmony stand by nuhn crawler
Sam Carmony and his father Ross stand by the Nuhn crawler. Ross Carmony founded Carmony Stock Farms, a custom application business in Wooster. He runs it with Sam and his other son Clint. (Rachel Wagoner photo)

WOOSTER, Ohio — The Carmonys put up with a lot of crap on a daily basis. It’s par for the course when running a custom application company.

Carmony Stock Farms has been professionally spreading manure for more than 20 years.

They’ve seen the industry develop from tanking and using irrigation using draglines and now an amphibious remote-controlled boat to agitate ponds.

A better way

Ross Carmony started the business almost by accident. He said he bought equipment in the mid-1980s to start spreading his own manure.

He raised hogs and farmed grain on his property just outside of Wooster, on Back Orville Road.

He put in his first manure pond in 1974 and hauled away the contents using a tanker. But that took a lot of time, Carmony said.

Next, they had someone come in an irrigate the manure.

“It cost so much to rent it, I thought I might as well buy it myself,” he said.

He bought irrigation equipment and began doing it himself.

His neighbors saw what he was doing at his farm and how fast he could empty a pond.

Using a tanker took hours because you had to fill it, drive it to the field, spread it, then drive back to repeat the process until the lagoon was empty. Driving a heavy tanker on the field risks compaction as well. Pumping it took minutes.

Neighboring farmers started asking if he could do the same for them, and things snowballed from there.

Getting serious

Eventually, Carmony got out of the hog business and rented his barns out to focus fully on the application business.

He continued to buy and build equipment and expand their capabilities.

They got injectors, mainline hose and then dragline hose.

Sam Carmony recalled his father using a toy tractor to strategize how to apply on a field the most efficient way.

“He was sitting there, and my brother and I were playing with our toys. He was playing around with a shoestring and a tractor trying to figure out how to do an entire field,” Sam Carmony said. Carmony Stock Farms was incorporated in 1995. They employ about nine people, including longtime employee Henry Braun, who has worked with Ross since 1991.

The family business

Ross’ sons, Sam and Clint, both found their way back to the farm to work in the family business after college.

Sam Carmony worked as a high school history teacher for about five years before coming back.

“I was teaching the same course six times a day to freshmen. It became factory work,” he said. “I feel like you need to be emotionally involved in what you do, or you’re not going to do a good job in it.”

Spreading manure is more than just running a tractor around a field dragging a hose or running a pumper truck.

“There are days I wish I was still teaching. There are days I am really happy spreading manure. With this, I get to do more problem-solving things I really enjoy,” Sam Carmony said.

Ross Carmony told his son a long time ago that no matter what business you’re in, you want to be the guy that can do it all. That comes into play often in the application and grain farming business.

“You need to know how to weld, how to work on a truck,” Sam Carmony said. “When things break down in the field, you want to be able to fix it and get back to working.”

Custom jobs

Now, they have five pump rigs and more than a dozen miles of hose, as well as other equipment to fit the various needs of farmers around the area.

Busy season is mid-March to mid-June and mid-September to mid-December. During that time they’ll be running four or five crews, Sam Carmony said. In the summer, his father farms about 700 acres of grain.

Getting into draglining can be cost-prohibitive for many farmers, Sam Carmony said. But they’ve been able to do it because they’ve added slowly to their fleet over time and built much of it themselves.

One of the more interesting pieces of equipment is the Nuhn lagoon crawler. The Carmonys have two of them. They’re not custom jobs.

The crawler is a remote-controlled amphibious vehicle that agitates lagoons, ensuring solids don’t build up on the bottom and can be pumped out with the rest of the lagoon contents.

A submerged pump and jets agitate, while a nozzle mounted on the front can be used to blast through crusts and build-up on walls.

It drives itself into the lagoon and back out of the lagoon while Sam Carmony controls it from the side using a rectangular remote control box.

“If you have a large enough pond, a stick agitator can’t reach everywhere,” he said. “The crawler has everything built into one.”

(Reporter Rachel Wagoner can be contacted at 800-837-3419 or rachel@farmanddairy.com.)

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Rachel is a reporter with Farm and Dairy and a graduate of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. She married a fourth-generation beef and sheep farmer and settled down in her hometown in Beaver County. Before coming to Farm and Dairy, she worked at several daily and weekly newspapers throughout Western Pennsylvania covering everything from education and community news to police and courts.

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