A Few Lines for an Old Friend

This 1995 Cat 45 served Brenda Frketich’s family for 22 years. The photo on the left is of the day it arrived on the farm in 1999 (Kyle Kirsch, brother, and Patrick Kirsch, cousin are with it), and the photo on the right is the day it left the farm in 2021. Brenda sits with her husband, Matt, and daughter, Millie, between them with Auggie above Matt and Hoot behind Auggie. (Photos courtesy of Brenda Frketich)

Brenda Frketich of Kirsch Family Farms in the Willamette Valley of Oregon has been a long-time friend to me personally and to DTN/Progressive Farmer. She was one of our America’s Best Young Farmers and Ranchers in 2014 and has contributed to our work several times since.

She has, in years since, assumed management of her family’s third-generation farm. Farming with her husband, Matt, the business produces grass seed, hazelnuts, clover, wheat, vegetables and vegetable seeds on 1,000 acres. She is the mom of three young children — two boys and a girl — and is highly effective in state politics.

In her “spare” time, she publishes a well-written, humorous and thoughtful blog, NuttyGrass (find it at www.NuttyGrass.com). When NuttyGrass pops up in my email, I take a few minutes to catch up with Brenda.

Brenda’s newest NuttyGrass column dropped earlier this week. It was time to let someone go, she wrote. A something, actually, but as near a member of the family as anything can be. It was time to send the farm’s venerable Cat 45 down the road to a new farm. The family has operated this Cat — vintage 1995 — since 1999. It will be missed, she said.

“Farmers … we can tend to be … (well), hoarders seems like a really strong word to use,” she began in a video (on her Facebook page, Nuttygrass) accompanying her NuttyGrass blog. “We like to keep things around just in case we need them. But we have this tractor we just don’t need anymore. We’ve changed cropping systems, we just aren’t working as much dirt as we used to, so she is heading down the road to another farm.”

Its absence has left Brenda conflicted. “I know it might sound silly that we need a little closure with this tractor, but I do. If you’re a farmer, you’ll understand. If you’re not a farmer, just pretend you’re selling one of your children today. That’s how it feels … no, not really … but, kind of,” she said, smiling, a bit of wry humor as she worked through her feelings on video.

Brenda wrote a poem about her Cat 45, about how a piece of rolling steel and power becomes a member of the family. Here it is, in full. I think you all might relate.

“As our Cat 45 headed down the road and we said farewell

I took a deep breath and reminded myself it was just time to sell.

She’s worked our dirt for 22 years, at least 10 times over

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