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Family blessed dad says as son joins the farm

Father Jim and son Tony Domnick farm together in rural Morris. Tony joined the family business after he graduated from Morris High School in 2013. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times.

From the time he was a kid and he rode along with his dad Jim on the tractor, Tony Domnick felt a part of the family farm in rural Morirs.

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He farmed alongside his dad while he was in school and officially joined the farming operation after he graduated from Morris Area High School in 2013.

"Basically, the words that come to mind is that it's a blessing....," Jim said of having his son join the farm. "As a parent, I kind of had that in mind."

Yet, he knew that it was Tony's choice on whether or not to continue farming. "I grew up with three other brothers and none of them came back to farm," Jim said. "I'm sure my dad probably has visions of all us joining the farm."

Jim noticed that Tony had a passion for farming early on. "They grow up beside you on the tractor and you see that desire to do it."

The father and son operate a crop production farm with mainly a corn and soybean rotation. They farm acres together and also have their own individual acres. The family also operates a seed business. Tony's focus in the spring is primarily with the seed business while his dad handles the planting of the family's crops.

Tony returns to the fields when spraying crop acres starts.

The variety of work is one of Tony's favorite aspects of farming. "You are not doing the same thing everyday," he said. "There are so many different things."

As a farmer, he gets to watch the progress of his crop. "...there's something about it, watching your crop and then you get to see what comes out of that crop"

"I think that's about exactly right," Jim said in agreement with Tony's description of his favorite aspect of farming. "It's definitely not montonous," Jim said.

The variety of each day also includes adapting to the changes in farming.

When Jim started farming he took one of the first agricultural related computer classes offered in the area. His son is very competent in the advanced technology used today.

Jim talked about the need to precisely steer the tractor and equipment when he was younger so the crop rows were straight. It was a point of emphasis from his father.

"Now, that's a non-issue," Jim said, as technology ensures the tractor and equipment follow a straight path.

As farming has advanced, "You always wonder what comes next," Jim said.

What may be coming next is exciting but can also be slightly daunting for Tony. "...everything is coming so fast and so quick that it scares me a little bit," Tony said.

He's willing to accept change and adapt but he doesn't want one of his enjoyments of farming to be eliminated. "I hope we are still driving tractors in the future," Tony said. He doesn't want to be in an office programming a tractor to operate in his fields in the future.

Because, while driving a tractor is part of the work, it's also part of the enjoyment for father and son.

If things get stressful, during harvest for example, Jim "jumps on a tractor and works ground for an hour or two."

While the Domnicks are prepared for more changes in the future, they do know their farming discussions are shaped by their own life perspectives.

Jim must think of retirement in his future and Tony is just starting in the operation. "As far as (looking) five years, 10 years, ahead and what we look at, I can see differences because of the age factor...," Jim said.

Jim still serves as his son's advisor but if the are any different thoughts on an idea, "at the end of the day you talk through it," he said.

The pair said they talk with mutual respect for opinions and with a shared work ethic and values. They like working together. They even spend leisure time together as recently, they spent several days ice fishing.

They continue to be busy with the seed business and in the fields. As Jim works he can't help but think of the future. "You have visions of your's hard to put in the right words." He knows that just as his son joined him on the farm, he'd like his grandkids to have the chance to do the same.

Editor's note:  This story was published on as part of the 2018 Farm Progress issue.  For more farm related stories click this link.