By John A. Ballentine
Featured speaker at the First United Methodist Church during the Kiwanis/Rotary Club 43rd National AG Day event in Kewanee on Tuesday, March 15, was Jeanne (Lehman) Harland, of rural LaFayette in Knox County. “Ag Day was created for the purpose to give agricultural people the opportunity to tell the true story of agriculture,” Jeanne stated as she began her speech.
Jeanne and husband Al own a beef production operation on their fifth generation farm, which was established in 1837, in northeast Knox County. They have a herd of cattle comprised of 85 head, 18 replacement heifers and three bulls. They have been in business over 40 years, maintaining a closed herd.
Speaking directly to younger people in the audience of approximately 45 people, who are interested in farming,
Jeanne explained real experiences on the farm with some advice for future farmers. “Agriculture is hard work! Things don’t always go right. The true story of agriculture is that education is important,” Jeanne emphasized.
“You need to learn everything that you possibly can. You never know when there is a need to know something,” she continued. “You have to adapt to your situation and come up with ideas on the fly. Some of them work, and some of them don’t.”
Jeanne told a 2002 harrowing experience when 20 head of their heifers and a bull escaped from their fenced farmland. The issue was when the cattle ended their journey across Stark County.
The herd reached busy Illinois Route 78 four miles east of the Harland farm and created a hazard to themselves and to motorists on that highway.
Jeanne utilized this example to drive home her point about adapting to the situation and coming up with ideas to capture the wandering herd.
She concluded by telling the audience, “Agriculture is a way of life that requires sacrifice. It requires long hours, hard work – but it brings a lot of satisfaction and great pride. We know that we help feed, clothe and fuel the world.”
Jeanne grew up in Toulon and has become active with various beef entities in her line of work. She writes a column for Illinois Beef magazine, which is also published in the Galesburg Register-Mail newspaper, plus a column for the Galva News.
In addition to raising beef, Jeanne plays the saxophone for the Kewanee Community Band and for the musical group Jazz on the Side. Through her work she has become a role model for young women who are seeking careers in agriculture.