James Westra from Beresford, S.D., grew up farming and continues today just 6 miles from where he grew up.
He and his wife, Katie, and their two girls have lived on their rural Beresford farm for the past 12 years. They raise about 25 ewes and 23 laying hens. They also grow corn, soybeans and alfalfa. Besides farming, Westra also works for Prinsco in Beresford.
As farmers get ready for planting season, Westra shares what he can’t do without this spring.
• Smartphone. Westra notes that while his smartphone does not link up with his family’s 20-30 year old equipment, it’s still handy.
“It’s great for troubleshooting. Chances are with a 20-year-old planter a lot of guys have already had the same problem so you can go online and search for the problem,” he says.
Besides looking up planter problems, Westra also uses his smartphone to look up current radar and weather forecasts and call for help if needed.
• Planter manual. He says he keeps the planter manual in the tractor so he knows what part to ask for when he calls the local John Deere dealership.
“You don’t want to look like a bonehead when you have a part that breaks down and you look at it and you’re thinking you’re calling into Pedersen’s (John Deere dealer in Beresford) it’s the round thing behind the other thing,” Westra says.
• Vise-Grip. He prefers to keep this multipurpose tool with him because it can help get him out of many situations.
“It can double as a hammer and the handle is perfect to dig down and check your depth,” he says.
• Orange Gatorade. “If you have an orange Gatorade, it tastes just as good warm as it does cold. If you’ve got it in the tractor, you’ve got something to drink and you have to stay hydrated,” he says.
• A few good women. Westra has his wife, his mom and an aunt nearby whenever he needs help, a ride between fields or something to eat.
“You have to have a few good women. They bring us lunch and snacks and Kate usually keeps food warm at home until I get home,” Westra says.