Lane Otremba, 17, is a student at Pierz Healy High School who has his future set in mind. Once he graduates in a year, he will go full-time into farming. He is a third generation farmer.
But he is also one to look at things realistically. He knows the challenges he is facing ahead. Besides taking over the family farm, he also has about a year to decide in what direction he wants to go.
Today, his parents Mike and Tammy’s farm is the home to cows, pigs and chickens. About 15 cows are milked and other youngstock is cared for daily.
The family also has 20 sows and one boar. Piglets are born year-round and sold as feeder pigs to those who want to butcher them. Others buy them to show at fairs and similar competitions.
But with low milk prices, Otremba is considering getting out of the dairy business and focusing solely on crop farming.
Another possible option would be to become a grower for a larger corporation. But Otremba knows even that has its disadvantages.
“If you get into that, you would have to get rid of your own animals because they don’t want theirs to possibly get your disease, if you have one,” he said.
Another disadvantage is that a larger corporation may not always see the amount of work the farmer puts in for a small portion.
“It would be nice to help bigger corporation barns run, but I also like the fact that I am the boss and can figure out what to do, not just be told. It’s knowing at the end of the day that it’s my work,” he said.
One thing Otremba is not afraid of is hard work. He contributes his hard work ethic to his parents. He knows that whatever hard work he puts into something, that is what he will reap from it.
His work ethic and passion for farming has not gone unnoticed by Ag Teacher Pat Tax.
“He is not afraid to try new things and his work ethic is so good. You ask him to do something, you can literally walk away and know he will do it,” she said.
Tax said that Otremba’s stubbornness will come in handy from time to time when facing challenges in the farm world.
“He sees the work that needs to get done and he just wants to do it. This past summer, he accidentally had a pitchfork go through his foot. He wanted to just bandage himself up and keep going, but his mom said no,” she said.
When it comes to deciding in what direction to take the farm, Otremba is also taking into consideration what the work will do to his body over time. Farming is a physically demanding job and he would be farming alone.
“I am an only child, so I don’t have any brothers to farm together with. I have some cousins, but they don’t want to go into farming,” he said.
Otremba is looking forward to the day he no longer has to go to school. He also appreciates the fact that his parents recognize his love for farming and don’t pressure him to attend college after high school.
“They understand that this is what I want to do,” he said.
Otremba prefers crop farming. While the future of the animal side of the business is yet to be decided, he plans to continue crop farming. The family currently grows corn, oats and alfalfa on the farm and that’s what he plans to continue to grow once he takes over.
Driving the tractor is his favorite part of farming. Otremba was 12 when he bought his first tractor, a 300 Farmall, after saving some money and working out a deal with the seller. A few years later, he purchased a three bottom plow, which he restored to working condition.
“It looks brand new,” he said.
Restoring tractors and other farm equipment is something Otremba likes to do for fun. He figures it is something he will do throughout his life and once restored, sell them and start on another project.
Already helping with preparing the fields and planting them, Otremba also started slowly taking over baling hay. Previously, it was something his Grandpa Harvey had done.
Close to his grandpa, Otremba said it was hard to lose his grandpa earlier this year. Harvey died Jan. 30.
Grandpa Harvey knew of Otremba’s plans to take over the family farm. It was something he was proud of, that the legacy he had started many years ago would carry on.