by Carlie Jensen
Steve Smits was raised on a small beef farm, and he never believed he would be a farmer. But as four of Steve’s uncles, a brother, and both grandfathers were farmers, Steve would be the first to admit that farming was in his blood. Though his wife did not grow up on a farm, Steve never imagined they would be living three miles from her childhood home, on a farm and with four beautiful girls.
Their farm is truly a family farm. Steve and two of his brothers, his father, a father-in-law, two nephews, and even a son-in-law participate in the business. Each of the brothers head different branches of the farm: Steve heads the crops, Dan Smits is in charge of the dairy, and Mark Smits takes care of the heifer farm. Though each brother is in charge of their own department, they each assist in daily chores. Steve says, “Every day is interesting on the farm because each day presents many different tasks to be accomplished.”
Steve and Heidi Smits were married in August of 1990. Heidi always said she wasn’t going to marry a farmer, but she admits over the years “we’ve had it pretty good together.” The first few years of their marriage were pretty ordinary with Steve working quality control at Alto Dairy. Later on, the opportunity arose for Steve and his brother Dan to purchase a farm. Two days after the birth of Rebecca, their oldest daughter, the family closed on the farm that they live on today. Soon the craziness became too much for the family because Steve’s workday never ended. He then quit his job at the dairy and began to work full time on the family farm.
Steve owes a lot of the farm’s success to his grandfather, Andrew Westra. Starting at a very young age, Steve was bless¬ed with the teaching of a great work ethic and with the knowledge of raising crops. His father, John Smits, has also been their continual reassurance throughout the last 23 years. Finances were difficult in the first years on the farm, and if it was not for the constant positive encouragement from his father, Steve explains they don’t know where the farm would be today. Currently, Steve is in charge of the farming enterprise, growing a number of crops such as corn, alfalfa, soy beans, wheat, green beans, sweet corn, and peas. His favorite part is planting these crops and watching them mature throughout the grow¬ing period. Even during the off-season, Steve is busy working. He and his brothers spend their time finishing day-to-day responsibilities. Much of their time during off-season is spent planning for the next season, reporting, and tax preparations. Daily chores all year are done with the assistance of loyal and hardworking employees. Steve works diligently with 26 em¬ployees. He spends time training them with the proper equipment to do their jobs. During this training, the Smits promote employees to treat others the way they would like to be treated, to be stewards of the land, and to produce wholesome and nutritious products.
The biggest joy in Steve’s life is family. He has four beautiful daugh¬ters. Rebecca Vree is a 22-year-old elementary education graduate and was married last year to her husband Mitchell. Breanna is 20 and is current¬ly in nursing school and working as a CNA. Lynnae, 18, will be attending Dordt College this fall majoring in elementary education. Kaytlin, 15, attends Central Wisconsin Christian. All girls were in various sports that keep themselves and the entire family busy throughout the year. When Steve talks about his girls, he has a smile on his face. When I asked him how it has been over the years raising four girls, he laughed, and the descriptive word used was “loud.” There is never a dull moment in their house, and much is owed to their mother Heidi, who is a kid at heart. Steve says, “At times I am pretty outnumbered, but I feel extreme¬ly blessed by each one of my girls.”
Raising the girls on the farm was filled with laughs and fighting over whose turn it was to ride in the trac¬tor with dad. All of the girls helped with picking rocks, feeding calves, and other chores, and each time Steve returned to their house the girls would run out to greet him. With how fast-paced the farm work is and how very large the equipment is, the girls were unable to help with everything. Nonetheless, Steve spent a lot of time with them. With the busyness of life, Steve was still able to attend school functions and spent 12 years coaching basketball. He even taught each one of the girls how to drive. Looking back, his favorite memory is pulling his girls wake boarding behind the boat on the lake. When asked if the girls would take part in the family business, Steve says that at this time they have shown interest in other occupations. They are encouraged by their parents to pursue those other interests, and if they are ever drawn back to the farm, they are welcome to return.
Steve loves being a father and a farmer. Both are extremely rewarding. Many working hands go into their fam¬ily farm, and he is thankful for such great employees. The farm has grown a lot throughout the years. He gives thanks not only to his loving wife, beautiful girls, supportive family, but also his Heavenly Father. The Lord has been the reason for all of the family’s blessings. Steve understands the life of a farmer and says, “There are a lot of easier ways to make a living, but it’s the good life”.