Gary Raber has wanted to get a Hoosier Homestead award for the past 15 years. He was able to reach that goal and receive recognition, along with 57 other Indiana farming families, in celebration of their 100-plus-year commitment to Indiana agriculture.
To be named a Hoosier Homestead, farms must be owned by the same family for more than 100 consecutive years and consist of more than 20 acres of produce and more than $1,000 of agricultural products per year, a press release said.
“I’ve been looking forward to it,” Raber said.
Raber’s great-grandfather purchased the property in Miami County in 1900. After he died, it was passed on to three of his children, including his grandfather. In 1948, it went to Kenneth, his father, before it went to Raber and his sisters. Raber bought the property in 1988.
Today, grain farming is done on the property, but Raber remembers having hogs, dairy and chickens in the past.
Growing up on the farm, Raber remembers driving a tractor at 6 years old.
“I just have dirt in my blood,” Raber said when recalling driving tractors and running equipment.
Over the years, plenty has changed in farming, including the machinery and technology. Raber, who has spent almost 40 years in the farming equipment industry, said he recalls planting corn with a two-row corn planter and now has someone harvesting corn for him with a 12-row combine.
Of the families named a Hoosier Homestead in early August, 42 families received centennial awards, 14 families were recognized with sesquicentennial and two families had more than 200 years on the farm.
Six local families were recognized from Carroll, Miami, Pulaski and Fulton Counties.
One of those is a close friend and neighbor to Raber.
The farm in Miami County was purchased by Eugene Mills in 1907 and has been in the family ever since, Curtis Mills said. After that, the farm went to Leroy Mills.