*Story by Tammy Schneider, Donny’s wife
Growing up on the farm all my childhood I learned early what hard work farming was. In 1986, Donny partnered with his dad to farm 320 acres of irrigated land. In 1988, Donny’s dad passed away and the real learning had begun. He was able to keep the current leases on the farmland, and with a small machinery loan from his dad’s estate and a loan from the bank, he was up and running.
32 years later the farm has grown to around 2,000 acres with much of the success coming from our local bank First National and now Points West. We had a bank that believed in us and were able to grow to where we are now.
When Donny first started there was not a single pivot on the farm. We have grown but the technology has evolved also. Now all our sprinklers have remote control with an app. The time savings with remote control has freed up our time to be more efficient. He gets notifications if one is stopped and that is the priority for the day; to keep them going to water the crops. The only downfall of remote control is the 2:00 am text to alert that one is not running.
Farming the past 7 years has been challenging. I’m not sure how much longer the ag producers can sustain these markets. You keep hearing of the food shortage and starving people, but the commodity prices are cheap and it’s hard to make a living. You need to find your niche and look for ways to be more efficient to survive.
This is his second season of growing hemp and that has come with its own set of challenges. To grow hemp for the oil market is very labor intensive. Hand weeding, harvesting, hanging, bucking, and then find a reliable processor to turn the flower into crude oil. Not to mention the risk of the crop goes non-compliant, meaning the THC level is above the legal limit of .3%. if that happens the entire crop needs to be destroyed. The state has a random drawing on who gets tested for THC levels.
The Schneider’s have turned some of their crude CBD into 1oz. bottles of CBD oil. They mix it with coconut oil and vitamin E to make the bottles. It has been a slow process to get to this point with many lab tests later to get the best product they can. It is marketed as CBD40. The name coming from hemp grown on the north 40. Donny thinks there will be a market for hemp in the future because it has so many uses. He would not recommend growing for oil, but the fiber is the future. The infrastructure is not here yet to process the fiber for big ag.
Donny and his wife Tammy have two sons Bradon, and Kallan. He says they have had conversations of them taking over the farm someday. They have been farming for 32 years and getting closer to slowing down. Bradon went to West Virginia after high school to work as an apprentice in the electrical field. He helped build a federal prison there. Kallan went to Wyo Tech in Laramie, Wyoming to learn auto upholstery. He opened his own shop in Ovid for a couple years and has since moved to the Denver area to work for Pilatus as an interior finisher for new jet airplanes. Donny is not sure if he will come back to the farm, but they have had the conversation. Bradon now is on the farm helping and renting a few acres of his own. They feel this is the best way for a young person to get started because it takes a lot of capital to start on your own nowadays.
Most of the land is owned but a few acres are rented from others. One of the landlords stopped by when they were working on a pivot. When they were done with the repair the landlord stuck around to talk. With so many acres to deal with the days get short and there is not much time to stand around and chat. There are more sprinklers to deal with. Donny gave them some of his sweet corn and off to the next job. They raise 4 rows of sweet corn for family and friends to enjoy.
Donny serves as a County Commissioner, so he spends much of his time in the Court House in the mornings if he is not in a meeting. That leaves Bradon and their hired summer helper McKenna to deal with all the happenings until his return. Donny credits their success to Points West for believing in them and allowing them to grow as they have dreamed.
Points West has been fortunate to be able to bank Donny and his family since 1988 and look forward to supporting the Schneider’s for many more years.