From spending Mother’s Day celebrations in the tractor cab to teaching spelling words on the go, learning to juggle motherhood alongside a full-time farming operation is no easy task.
But for Minnesota Soybean’s three elected female state board members, strong faith, perseverance and work ethic has been chiefly influenced by one person – their mom.
Rochelle Krusemark, Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council director
During her childhood, Truman native Rochelle Krusemark says her mom was considered the “household executive.”
“My mom raised four children and nurtured several others,” says Krusemark. “She sewed most of our clothes when we were younger, made all the meals, grew and preserved fruits and vegetables from a huge garden, taught Sunday School, 4-H, Cub Scout and Camp Fire Girl Leader, all while making time to play with us.”
Krusemark recalls one phone she received from her mom when she was a little older.
“While I was attending college, my mom called me one evening to see if my schedule allowed for us to have lunch that week. We sat at the table, talking as tears swelled in my mom’s eyes. I asked if something was going on. My mom took my hand and said that she had waited years for this, that we could be friends as well as mother-daughter. My mom was my best friend.”
Krusemark and her husband, Brad, have two sons, AJ and Caleb, a daughter-in-law, Maria, and three grandsons, Titus, Zeke and Silas. Everyone pitches in on the Krusemarks’ farm.
When AJ and Caleb were young, Rochelle juggled farming and being a mom by bringing them along.
“The boys worked with us on the farm and in the home,” she says. “We taught the boys how to do laundry and cook and do their homework or spelling words in the tractor. Penmanship wasn’t always the greatest, but we would just tack a note to their paper.”
Krusemark says working on the farm with her family brings everyone closer together.
“When you work with family you have opportunities to teach life lessons and develop a relationship that is not possible without spending time together,” she says. “It is fun to hear my grandsons Titus and Zeke say, ‘We are a good team, Nana!’ when working on a project. The farm has taught us about hard work, respect and responsibility.”
Theresia Gillie, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director and past president
“My mom always told me, ‘God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,’” Gillie says. “She taught me to be strong, even when thing don’t go your way.”
Gillie’s mom, Helen, grew up on a small dairy farm in Stearns County. Helen quit school in eighth grade to help her parents’ farm. Even though Helen grew up farming, Gillie did not, as her parents moved to a small home in Melrose while raising nine children.
“The one thing I will always remember my mom by is her cooking and baking,” says Gillie, who first started learning to bake in elementary school. “She was – and still is – a very good cook. She can cook a large meal for 30 some people and make it look easy. She is also known for her crafts and quilting done by hand and making it look beautiful.”
Gillie currently farms 950 acres near the Canada border while serving as Kittson County Commissioner. Gillie has one son, Bryce, who is soon to be married to his fiancée, Ariel.
“Being a mom, you learn to wear many hats, usually all at once,” Gillie says. “I have learned that some things really can wait, because being a mom to my son is my number one priority. Yes, that means sometimes the farm needs to wait because as much as I love my farm, I love him more.”
Gillie says her biggest wish for her son is for him to be happy.
“The farm is a business and not for everyone,” she says. “I want Bryce to make his own choices to be successful and I will be proud in whatever he chooses to do. My wish for him is to be happy and to choose joy in his life.”
Gillie reminds other moms to take care of themselves.
“Life can get stressful. Take a moment each day to take a deep breath and tell your family how much you love them,” Gillie says.
Jamie Beyer, Minnesota Soybean Growers Association vice president
Jamie Beyer did not have a farming background, but her mother raised her to be flexible and willing to step out of her comfort zone.
“I did not grow up on a farm, but my mom instilled in me a strong work ethic and also an appreciation for adaptability,” says Beyer, who now farms with her husband Rodd and their three daughters near Wheaton. “My mom was always there to help, but she expected her children to be independent, and I have repeated the same expectation for my children.”
Beyer praises her mother and mother-in-law for their support, especially during the long farming hours, including many Mother’s Day celebrations that are spent in the field.
“Both my husband and I are extremely fortunate to live near our moms,” she says. “Our daughters are very close to both of their grandmothers. Without the support of our parents, I don’t know where we would be. Farming is long hours and last-minute plans and both are easier to bear when you know your children are being cared for by family. They are always willing to step in when we can’t.”
Beyer says she’s had to learn to adjust as she continues to be active with their family farm and organizations on top of being a mom.
“When the girls were young, life was tough and routine was everything,” she says. “Now that the girls are older, there are more opportunities to bring them along to learn. Last year, I brought my 10-year-old to a Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) board meeting. She made it through, but hasn’t asked to go back.”
But Beyer says motherhood brings more rewards than challenges.
“Taking care of the farm has shaped our little family,” she says. “We use the farm to show them what hard work is and how to put your whole heart into something bigger than yourself.”