Two farm families honored at QA fair
CENTREVILLE, Md. — Two Ruthsburg area farm families were honored last Wednesday evening at the Queen Anne’s County Fair.
Donald and Norma Jean Dean, who continue the 100-plus year legacy of the Dean family in Queen Anne’s County and the Myers family, which came here from the Western Shore in 1969, were hailed by county officials as the county’s Farm Families of the Year.
Observers noted, parenthetically, that both farm operations would have been severely impact had the proposed Foreign Affairs Security Training Center been approved for location on 2,000 acres of prime Ruthsburg farmland.
The Dean family legacy has been a part of Queen Anne’s County for over 100 years. The farmhouse, located in Ruthsburg, was constructed in 1892. Donald and Norma Jean are the third generation Dean family to live in the house.
They met at a basketball game and dance at the Stevensville High School. Norma Jean commented, “Once he came to Stevensville he never left.” The Dean’s have been married for 56 years.
The Deans are active members of the Ruthsburg Community Club, donating the land for where the building now sits.
The community came together donating money and their time to enable Ruthsburg to have a gathering place for events. Both agreed that “it’s important to give to the community, and help your neighbors.”
Looking ahead to the fifth generation on the family farm is their grandson Chris. “He’s got his work cut out for him, everything is so expensive but he’s got a good head start farming with his Dad” Donald said.
Donald sits in his office, by the back door in his rocking chair and with a pocket calculator in hand. He thinks about his daily routine, driving around to look at the crops.
“He goes to the Triple T Truck Stop in the morning for breakfast, plays golf on Wednesdays with his buddies and then hangs out with Ernie and Gordon Myers on Sunday mornings,” son Donnie said.
Donald and Norma Jean both agree that their biggest challenge with farming is the weather and its uncertainty. “Farming is a gamble but it’s a good life,” they agreed.
The Myers family farm, then 200 acres, was in Baltimore County inside the Beltway. It included the land where Golden Ring Mall once stood.
There were 13 children in the Myers family and everyone pitched in to do their part. Brothers Ernie and Gordon started looking to relocate the family dairy, swine and vegetable operation in 1969 when land in Baltimore County was selling for $20,000 per acre.
The farm they purchased in Queen Anne’s County was being tilled by Donald Clark. They had a “gentleman’s agreement” that the Myers’ could come down on the weekends and build their barns.
The wood for the barns was sawed from trees on the Baltimore County farm. “We needed a lot of barns, we had 600 pigs, 37 dairy cows and we wanted to expand the dairy herd to 75 cows” Gordon commented.
The Myers family has always been very active in the community; the girls were in 4-H and the farm hosted Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts allowing them to camp on their farm.
Over the years the Myers family has endured hardships — the barn fire in 1998 and the house fire in 2000.
“Our friends and neighbors really helped us out; we had trailers and campers the next day after the house fire. We had a place to stay and plenty of people to lend a hand,” commented Theresa, Ernie’s wife.
Theresa and Ernie have both had health issues but are always thankful for their family and friends. “When we built our new house, I had a kitchen table special made, with six leaves, to seat 22 people; I want the whole family to sit down together,” Theresa said.
“Ernie and I have farmed together our whole lives,” Gordon commented. “We disagree, then we figure it out .But the most challenging part of farming is the weather”.