Stark County couple working to keep farming in the family

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NAVARRE, Ohio — Farming is a family affair for the Wentlings — they each have their own jobs on the farm, but, at the end of the day, it’s the Stark County family’s teamwork that drives their success.

It started with Bob and Gloria Wentling and now agriculture is a part of their children’s and grandchildren’s lives, as well.

Started early

Bob started in farming before he was out of high school. He was a sophomore in high school when a neighboring farm came up for rent. Bob started farming, and farmed that field on shares for 15 years.

When he and Gloria got married, he was farming a total of six farms. Then, in 1975, Bob and Gloria were able to purchase 40 acres of land with a house and they began to fix it up.

Bob served as a township trustee and on the board of directors for a credit union, but farming was always in his blood and he never drifted away from it.

4-H benefits

His love of agriculture, he said, started the same as his boys’ — he raised steers in the county 4-H program. He added the Wentling family bought cattle from the same farm in southeastern Ohio for over 38 years until the farmer died.

Now, the only cattle on the Wentling farm belong to his oldest son and are sold as freezer beef.

Bob said he can’t say enough about how 4-H benefited him and his children. He said each of them raised steers and sold them through the 4-H sale at the fair every year — and 10 years of steer projects paid for each child’s first two years of college.

The Wentlings’ oldest son, Bill, is a full-time farmer in the operation. The youngest son, Andy, also farms part-time and has a full-time job off the farm.

The middle son, Rick, is a chemical engineer who works for DuPont out of state, but enjoys coming home every chance he can get.

Their daughter, Pam Haley, also has her hands in agriculture. She is a crop adjuster, very involved with Simmental cattle and lives in West Salem, Ohio.

The Wentlings farm a total of 1,200 acres, mostly a combination of beans and corn, in addition to 100 acres of wheat and 75 acres of hay.

They also complete custom work for others. They do a lot of round baling for some farmers, planting corn for others and high-moisture corn shelling.

Equipment

The farm machinery is conglomeration of different types of equipment, owned mostly by Andy and Bill.

The farm started out with 30,000-bushel storage and an in-bin dryer and a stir-rator. Then, they added another bin, giving an additional 25,000 bushel in storage and a stand-alone dryer in 1994.

“Every year, we have bought something and have paid for it then,” Bob said. “We’ve been very fortunate.”

The farm does do some forward contracting for grain for fall delivery, however most soybeans are sold straight from the field.

Smooth operations

“We’ve got our own jobs we’ve got to do,” said Bob.

Bill is in charge of planting and Andy is in charge of spraying crops.

They make sure the soybeans are sprayed twice since they use a no-till method. They spray before planting and then, once beans are growing, use a foliar spray. Altogether, they cover 2,000 acres with the sprayer a year.

Bob said spraying liquid fertilizer provides a great number of benefits for their operation because it is spread over such a large area. There is less handling and more time spent on application.

Niche marketing

Another way the Wentlings make their operation stand out is through the sale of ear corn, which many hobbyists purchase for squirrels or other small wildlife. They sell 30-pound bags and most months, they sell between 40 and 50 bags.

Throughout the year, they also sell straw, which is often purchased by landscapers, or even by homeowners doing yard work or for a dog house. They move between 200-300 bales a year.

Future

Meanwhile, the Wentlings believe the future is in their children, and their goal is for the farm to stay in the family. They are doing this through an estate plan they have already set up so that the farm will go to Andy and Bill when the time comes.

“We’ve had a good life. We never made big money, but we have always been on top,” Gloria said.

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