Jeff Decker has come to accept the fact he has to love farming even when it doesn't love him back.
Jeff and his brother, Randy, are third-generation farmers who have spent their entire lives working the land and working with livestock in what undoubtedly is a labor of love.
Decker Farms began in 1947 when their grandfather, Lawrence Decker, purchased 47 acres near Maysville to raise watermelons and also have dairy cows. Melons were an important component to the farm as melons still are grown today on the farm.
"We planted the melons by hand in the early days, "Jerry Decker (Jeff and Randy's father) said. They sold the melons to chain stores in the 1950s.
Sales to chain stores diminished over time, but not the demand for the watermelons. In 1968 Jerry took home melons that didn't make the grade. He stacked the melons by a tree on his property along Highway 57. That stack of watermelons caught passerby's attention, and Jerry's wife, Carol, found herself thrust into the melon-selling business.
"Initially, we sold a lot of melons to traveling peddlers," Carol recalled. Produce sales were good then and have remained strong, despite the opening of I-69.
Business was so good that Jerry built a produce stand for her that still is in operation today. The stand offers tomatoes, corn, squash, watermelon and zucchini as staple items.
As the produce stand business continued to grow, so did the family farm. What started at 47 acres has grown to 550 acres. The 550 acres are used to grow corn and soybeans, and they also farm an additional 1,200 acres. The acreage is located in both Daviess and Knox counties.
The increased acreage has resulted in even more work.
"It is challenging work," Jeff said, adding, "and the reward rarely is monetary."
The reward almost is indescribable to those who have no farming background. Jerry, Jeff and Randy all agree they feel fulfilled when they are out in the field.
"Sometimes we wonder why we farm, then we get into the fields and we have our answer," Jeff said.
Time in the field is abundant during planting and harvest time as it is not uncommon to have 100-hour work weeks. To farmers, they can rest when it rains.
Rest is not in the immediate future for any of the Deckers as they plan to continue to provide produce for the stand and continue farming.
"It's simple," said Jerry about farming. "You just gotta love it!"