By next Thanksgiving, young brothers Patrick, Tate, and Will Fahey will have a sense of satisfaction after farming their first harvest season on their own.
This year, they are thanking their friend and neighbor Brian Raleigh for making it possible.
“We all started farming when we were probably five or younger helping pick rock or do stuff like that. Pretty quickly thereafter Jim puts you on a tractor. You learn fast,” said 26-year-old Patrick Fahey.
While growing up, Patrick and his younger brothers, 19-year-old Tate Fahey and 18-year-old Will Fahey, helped their cousin Jim Glisczinski on his farm in Belle Plaine Township. The brothers enjoyed the work, especially using the equipment and driving tractors. Though their goal has always been to own and operate a farm full-time together, they’ve been pursuing other fields in the meantime.
Patrick drives truck, Tate is studying heavy diesel mechanics, and Will is finishing up high school.
“You don’t want to see yourself not doing farming in the future. I’m getting to the age now where I’ve got to decide either you get pulled too much towards a different job, or you try to make it so you can do both,” said Patrick.
The brothers told Jim they were looking to rent some land to get their feet wet in the business. A task that isn’t so easy in Belle Plaine.
“Most of the land surrounding us has been owned by the bigger farmers for decades. As they continue to get bigger, it’s harder for somebody else to get their own land because it’s so expensive,” said Brian Raleigh.
His parents, Bob and Sallie Raleigh, bought a small family farm just outside of Belle Plaine when Brian was five-years-old. His father milked cows from 1974 until 2000 and then transitioned to focusing on growing crops.
“I’ve always helped to make sure that our ground got taken care of with the help of our neighbor Jim Glisczinski,” said Brian.
And Brian returned the favor whenever he could, helping Jim on his land every fall.
“We’ve always just looked out for each other,” said Brian.
So when Jim mentioned that his cousins were looking for some land to farm, Brian never forgot.
“When Dad approached me before the fall harvest and asked if I wanted to take it over completely, I said, ‘No, but I know somebody who would.’”
He connected with the Fahey brothers who were eager to get started.
“It kind of found us. Jim looks out for us, and Brian was obviously looking out for us, too. We got a good first step here,” said Patrick.
“Thank you so much for the start and for not selling it to the highest bidder right away,” said Tate.
Though taking a step back from the 160-acre farm is bittersweet for Brian, he knows the land will be in good hands.
“Jim is going to be advising them on everything. Once they get entrenched into this, they’ll be on their own, but they’ve got a great teacher in Jim,” he said.
Even though there is no blood relation, Brian still feels like the farm is staying in the family.
“Neighbors helping neighbors in this section has always been a big part of our lives. That’s the key. We’ve always helped Jim and Jim has always helped us. If anybody needs help, we’ve always stepped up to the plate and we always get it in return. That’s why the decision was made to offer it to the Fahey boys,” said Brian.
This Thanksgiving, the Fahey brothers have plenty to be thankful for: family, neighbors, and many harvest seasons to come.