Quincy brothers are fifth generation to farm
In the Wallace household, fall is for football, winter is for wrestling, spring is for FFA and summer is for the county fair.
It’s a rigorous schedule, but Cade, a high school senior, and Tanner, a sophomore, can’t imagine life any other way.
“We’ve been doing this for a while. I wasn’t born in a barn, but close,” joked Cade, who went to his first Grant County Fair when he was only a few months old.
The brothers live on a small farm with their family, which includes younger brothers Payden, a seventh-grader, and Brody, a fourth-grader, as well as their parents Mike and Kelly Wallace. Mike is the agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Quincy High School and Kelly teaches physical education at the high school.
“Mike and I both value raising our boys on the farm,” Kelly said recently. “Our farm is small, but it has taught a lot of responsibility. I’m proud of how hard they work.”
Fifth-generation farmers, Cade and Tanner are two of 79 students participating in the FFA program at Quincy High School. Cade serves as the chapter’s president. This week, the brothers and their peers are celebrating National FFA Week.
Kelly described her oldest son as organized and meticulous, always striving for perfection and trying to get better. Tanner is more laid back, she said, but still excels and goes out of his way to help others.
Tanner is “mellow yellow,” able to calm the most unruly calf, while Cade is very mechanical and from an early age enjoyed jumping on a tractor, Mike agreed.
“They both do pretty well with other skills, but their personalities help them with different aspects of farming,” Mike said.
“I’m proud that they are just good people,” Kelly added.
The Wallace family has 14 acres of hay. The boys run the tractors, change the water and do the swathing. They usually get three cuttings, letting the fourth grow to pasture for their livestock.
“Once in a while, they get calls from buddies to help run balers or swathers, but most of the time we’re slammed with what we are doing,” Mike said.
The Wallaces have 40 head of beef cattle and 12 quarter horses. They also have a flock of 20 Rhode Island Red and Barred Rock chickens.
“We get attached to the horses, because we don’t sell those,” Tanner said.
“We just maintain the cattle,” added Cade.
The farm keeps the brothers busy. Some mornings are early and some nights are late, but there are a few breaks, said Tanner.
“We have it down to a system,” Cade said. “It’s just our nature. We’ve lived on a farm our whole life.”
Because farming is in their blood, it was only natural the boys started showing livestock when they were 6 and 8 years old.
“We did pigs for two years, then we went to steers,” Cade said. “The hardest part about steers is halter-breaking them and calming them down.”
“Sometimes you get lucky and get a calm one,” Tanner said.
The steers they hope to show in August just turned a year old. They plan to start working with them in a few weeks so they will be ready for the ring come August. The steers usually go for around $2,000.
“They are 18 months when we show them,” Cade said. “We sell them at auction and make a profit.”
“Those calf checks will help a little bit with paying for their educations,” Mike added.
In the Wallace home, calf season is timed to follow wrestling season. Mike is a longtime assistant coach for QHS, and both brothers wrestle. In fact, Cade finished sixth last weekend in the 2A state competition in the 182-pound division.
In March, the Wallaces are expecting some 20 calves. The family takes turns checking the herd at night by flashlight, to make sure none of the cows are having trouble.
March is also when FFA competition season starts up. This spring, the brothers will be completing several Career Development Event competitions, called CDEs by the kids. They usually compete in livestock judging, meat judging, horse evaluation, parliamentary procedure and dairy products in the spring and tractor driving in the fall.
“We are hoping to place in state in a bunch of them,” Tanner said.
The brothers said being able to make new friends and travel is a great part of being in FFA. Both were able to attend FFA Nationals in Kentucky last fall.
“It’s not just for farm kids,” Cade said of FFA. “It’s for anyone who wants to join. There is plenty that doesn’t have to do with farming.”
Cade was able to use the welding skills he developed in FFA to weld a metal frame while on a mission trip to Haiti last year during spring break. The brothers joined 20 other teens from the Quincy Free Methodist Youth Group who traveled to Haiti during spring break to build a generator house at an orphanage.
“It has made me more confident, taught me presentation skills and increased my knowledge of agriculture,” Tanner said of FFA. “If you have some knowledge of agriculture, there are so many careers open to you.”
And, for their mother, Kelly has seen the boys learn just as much from their failures as their successes. There have been times when things haven’t worked out, such as when a steer died before fair or was unruly in the ring, or the boys didn’t place as well as they hoped.
“They’ve learned a lot that way, too,” Kelly said. “Not everything goes right all the time, especially with agriculture.”
Both brothers said they would like to have agriculture-related careers. While Cade has been accepted to Washington State University and the University of Idaho, he isn’t quite sure which he’ll attend or what he’ll major in, although he thinks it will be agriculture related.
“There is a lot of pride, but it’s sad it’s gone so quickly,” Kelly said of the time her boys have participated in FFA.
“I’ve watched them progress from tiny boys in front of steers to being showmen in the ring. This year will be strange. It’s Cade’s last fair.”
Mike said he doesn’t worry when he’s away for trainings because he knows his boys have things well in hand. He’s especially proud of how his sons have dealt with having their father as their wrestling coach and FFA advisor.
“Cade especially was really gracious, being the first,” Mike said. “I was intense when they were younger. It is hard to be the wrestling coach and FFA advisor and be the dad.”
He’s also excited to see what the future holds for his sons.
“I’m really thankful they’ve been surrounded by so many people who have influenced them in such a positive way and helped them become who they are,” Mike said. “It will be intriguing to see what comes next.”
— By Rebecca Young, QVPR contributor