Growing up in the country, often with only brothers and sisters for playmates, provides children with life experiences unique to rural living—playing in creeks, roaming pastures looking for adventure, hiding in the barn loft. Your immediate family can become your worst enemies, partners in crime, coworkers in the field, best friends for life … and sometimes business partners.
This is the rhythm of life on the Mahar farm, in Pike County, Missouri — has been for generations, and if all goes well, will continue for years to come.
Cliff Mahar, of Curryville, Missouri, has been involved on the farm for most of his life. Farming in the Mahar family goes back as far as the 1800s, only skipping one generation. His grandmother bought a small farm in Pike County, Missouri, in the 40s. As Cliff got older, he said he would visit her and help her maintain the large garden she had.
“Between working down south on a watermelon farm, and helping out my grandma here in Pike County, I felt like [farming] was what I really wanted to do,” Cliff said.
Taking the knowledge he had learned and the experiences he had, Cliff picked up farming once again for the Mahar family in the 70s when he was 20 years old.
“I like growin’ things and I like the cattle,” Cliff said.
Cliff’s son, Joe Mahar, of Frankford, Missouri, followed in his dad’s footsteps and has been a partner in Mahar Farms for 11 years now. He signed on during his junior year in college, and he said he hasn’t looked back since. Joe said it was his upbringing that helped him decide to continue the family’s legacy.
“We grew up farming our whole life,” Joe said, referring to himself and his brother. “We got to skip school to help Dad put in the first crop. It was an annual thing for the family every year. Just being with Dad and watching him do what he loves I think rubbed off on me. I think that’s when I unknowingly realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Joe stated that he believes in all things the farm teaches the younger generations. He said that he completely supports organizations like 4-H and FFA, but he also believes the education that comes from experiences on the farm are the best way to learn.
“Everybody’s out there, everybody’s pitchin’ in,” Joe said. “The key is starting them young, running equipment and getting them familiar with the logistics of the agriculture lifestyle.”
Both father and son hope the family oriented business survives the take over of big monopoly companies. The odds do concern them, though.
“A lot of people have family owned businesses and companies but the way of life seems to be fading,” Cliff said. “There’s fewer and fewer of us all the time because of the construction of conglomerates.”
Joe said he definitely agreed with his father.
“I’m worried it’s not going to be there,” Joe added. ” That’s what America was based on, the family values and generations passing down the legacy that each family before had worked hard for and cherished.”
Until that time comes, the Mahar family will continue to pass on the values and their work ethic to the younger generations in hopes that at least one will find their passion in farming as well.