Four decades ago, when industrialization and urban development were encroaching on his 600-acre Indiana farm 60 miles from Chicago, Paul Good began searching for land elsewhere, and after visiting several states he bought a farm in eastern Noxubee County, Miss., and started farming there in 1973.
Now, as he nears his 88th birthday, he’s still actively involved in the corn/soybean operation that he and his son-in-law, Dale Weaver, run together (see For Paul Good and Dale Weaver, switch to all grains necessitated more irrigation). And he’s seen his two sons, Philip and Steve, become established farmers, with operations of their own.
“I grew up on a farm — farming is all I’ve ever known,” he says. “I had good agriculture classes in high school. Even in that era, instructors were placing a lot of emphasis on soil testing, and very early I realized the importance of that practice. I also had access to Purdue University and its storehouse of agricultural information. “But when steel companies, other businesses, and subdivisions started gobbling up more and more land, I felt, for my family’s sake, I needed to look elsewhere for my future in farming. In the 1960s, I started exploring, looking at areas I felt had potential. I visited Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, many places, but finally ended up here, and bought 1,000 acres, which is the home place my son Philip now farms.”
Paul, vigorous and strong-voiced in his ninth decade, still with his Indiana “accent,” and Dale, who grew up here in Mississippi, one of seven children of a missionary who came south in the 1950s to minister to Native Americans and also was a dairy farmer, are, Paul says, a good team.
“Dale fills in my weaknesses, particularly in the area of technology,” Paul says. Also a trained mechanic, Dale grew up working on his father’s dairy farm — “To this day, I don’t like cows,” he laughs. He worked for Paul for several years and farmed rented land on his own. He married Paul’s daughter, Janice, and now he and Paul have been farming together for 30 years. Janice and Paul’s wife, Joyce, assist with the farming operation, taking care of business details and recordkeeping.
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“I’m the only one of the seven children still living in this area,” Dale says. “The others are scattered all over. Five of us are pilots, and some have done missionary flying in various parts of the world.” Dale has a “tail-dragger” 1947 Stinson Voyager 108-1 aircraft, which he flies over the farm to spot potential problem areas in their crops, “and if I need to go over to the Delta to pick up parts, it’s much faster than driving.”
Paul says he has no intention of retiring. “As long as my health holds out, I’ll be farming. Sitting around the house just doesn’t appeal to me.”