S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Mendel Farm Family of Doland

April 3, 2017

S.D. Farmers Union Celebrates the Mendel Farm Family of Doland 

South Dakota Farmers Union has served South Dakota farm and ranch families for more than a century. Throughout the year, we share their stories in order to highlight the families who make up our state's No. 1 industry and help feed the world. Thismonthwe highlight theMendel farmfamily of Doland. Pictured here left to right: Dave, Judy, Don, Lavonne, Grace, Miles, Jill, Merrit, Shem, 4, and Leon Brondsema.

By Lura Roti, for South Dakota Farmers Union

Don Mendel was 9 when his dad first let him drive the gray Ford Ferguson tractor across the field. He wasn't unsupervised. His dad, Joe, was beside him pulling a two-bottom plow with a team of five-work horses.

 "Dad liked horses and kept them around longer than lots of the neighbors," explains the 83-year-old Doland farmer. "He put me on that Ford tractor and would let me drive as fast as he was going with those horses. We would plow together and thought we were turning over a lot of ground."

 Retired since 2000, Don can still be found driving machinery across the fields that his twin sons, Merrit and Miles, 45, now manage with the help of his grandsons and four employees.

 "Farming is in our blood," Don says.

 His brother, Dave, agrees.

 Don's farming partner since 1972 and now, also retired, Dave, like Don, spends most days on the farm helping his nephews out. "I always enjoyed working on the farm," says Dave, 67.

Although he was pursuing a teaching degree, when he returned from serving in Vietnam, he decided he'd rather farm. "I saw more of a future in agriculture. Even back then, South Dakota was very near the bottom of the teacher pay scale," says Dave, who together with his wife, Judy, raised their three, now-grown children, Jason (deceased), Audrey and Seth; and now-grown grandson, Jason, on the farm.

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Last Modified: 04/03/2017 11:59:10 am MDT

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