Trukas are Farm Family of Year

—Receive Kiwanis award at recent FFA banquet
CRESCO - Joe and Jane Truka of Lime Springs were honored by Cresco Kiwanis Club at the Crestwood FFA banquet as Farm Family of the Year for 2023.
The farming gene runs deep on both sides of the family. Joe grew up on a farm outside of Lime Springs, while Jane (Landswerk) grew up on a farm in the valley near Kendallville. The two met in high school and got married when he was 20 and she was 19. “We started farming right away,” said Jane, “and that first year we had a crop failure.” That didn’t stop them from continuing. 
Slowly the family grew to three daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, Cindy (husband, Andy Gooder, and children Natalie and Max), Vicki (Ted Schmitz with Leo and Molly) and Stacy (Nathanael Dohlman with Lexus, Walker, Neva and Silvan).
Trukas started farming with his dad. Joe went to the bank and borrowed $15,000. With that, he was able to purchase a herd of cows, a tractor and a disk. The machinery was borrowed back and forth. “I was the muscle, and he had the equipment,” Joe smiled. 
In those early years, they worked hard. They started with milking cows, then had a farrow to finish set up and raised corn and beans. In between, they had feeder pigs, cows and calves.
In 2006, the next generation followed the family tradition of working together by crop farming. “I wanted to get out of the labor business,” Joe joked. 
Stacy and Nathanael took over the livestock business, which includes 3,000 head of hogs in 2016. She looked at her parents, “You farmed with your dad. Now we farm with you, and now the grandkids are getting involved.”
“We farm together, but separate,” explained Joe. “We are not a corporation, but we work together on a daily basis.”
Between the two families, they have about 1,200 acres. Joe has also rented ground for many years from the O’Byrne and Drtina families. Jane feels working on the farm keeps him young.
Trukas bought their current farm, just south of Davis Corners in 1987 and moved into the home in 1988. As time and money have allowed, Trukas updated their house three times.
Over the years, Joe and Jane operated their farm to be efficient and diversified. “Now farms are more specialized,” he said. “Practices have changed. Now there is less tillage.” In addition, Jane worked outside the home at Fareway and Winnebago for about 10 years.
With the grandkids getting more interested in what is happening on the farm, harvest season is always busy. “All the grandchildren come and show up to help in the fall,” Joe said. “They ride in the combines and talk on the two-way radio!”
The Dohlman children are the third generation of those participating in FFA and 4-H. Joe was a member of Crestwood FFA and Nathanael took the class at Riceville. Now granddaughter Lexus is in FFA. “She came home one day and said she was the only farm kid in her FFA class,” said Stacy. As farming has changed over the years, so has FFA, which has many more girl members than in the past.
Stacy and their kids are also involved in 4-H. Both the organizations help prepare members for public speaking and other life lessons.
The three Truka girls grew up on the farm and helped with chores. They have taken that knowledge and work ethic with them as they started their own families and careers.
Stacy went to school for conservation, which is helpful in farming and in her position as Financial Service Representative at CUSB Bank - Lime Springs. Nathanael took Ag Mechanics at Calmar. He also works full time as a maintenance manager at Next Generation Pork in LeRoy.
Trukas have seen many changes in farming since they started nearly 50 years ago.
“It is much more risky, difficult and expensive to start farming now,” Joe stated.
“We are pretty fortunate to have so many local services and goods sold by independent businesses — banking, hospital, hardware, farm stores, co-ops, machinery dealers, etc. It’s all real close, and we take it for granted. Farmers are in partnership with all those businesses.”
Trukas also do their part in purchasing from those local businesses and helping with local organizations.
Joe has been on the Extension Council and church council. Jane was on the softball team when she was young. She was also a leader for the Howard Center Stars 4-H club and church council.
“We have a good group of friends for the past 30 years or so,” Jane said. “We’ve went on vacations together and played cards.”
But the couple also enjoys spending time with each other by biking on local trails, hiking in a park, taking the Camaro out for a drive along the Mississippi and fishing with another couple.
All the hard work in the young years have given them the means to enjoy their later years. 
“My heart led me to farming,” Joe shared. “It certainly wasn’t the money.” But he and Jane wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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