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Family fills many roles on shared farms

Liz Hulsizer

Liz Hulsizer is the combine driver of the family and was inspired by her mom, Sally Bowman, who still drives the grain truck.

GALESBURG, Ill. — As a young girl, Liz Hulsizer was impressed to see her mother, Sally Bomwan, drive a 2-ton grain truck at the family’s western Illinois farm during harvest.

Now as a grown woman, Hulsizer attributes her confidence in driving the high-tech, modern combine to that inspiration, along with encouragement from her husband, Matt, and practicing the skills. Hulsizer points out that she learned to drive it before it she had auto steer.

Sally and Liz

Liz Hulsizer is the combine driver of the family and was inspired by her mom, Sally Bowman, who still drives the grain truck.

She’ll drive grain carts too, but much prefers to be behind the wheel of the combine.

“My dad always made me feel just as important on the farm as my brother was,” she said.

Both Liz and Matt had fathers who were the lead farmers of the family and both died young — his father in 2013 and hers in 2016. So, they merged the two family operations in Oneida and near Galesburg where they live.

“We figured it out and it’s working really well now,” she said.

Hulsizer’s role of driving combine may be one of the more glamorous jobs on the farm, but she emphasizes that every farm job is important, from the woman who works off the farm to get health insurance, to the drivers, bookkeeper and hands-on farm workers. Her family’s corn, soybean and popcorn farm in Knox County includes all of those support roles.

Matt’s mom is a teacher and brings hot meals to the field on the weekends.

“All week we have cold sandwiches. We’re excited to see her on the weekend,” Hulsizer said.

Her brother, Andrew Bowman, and husband Matt both jump into a variety of jobs on the farm.

Her mom still drives the grain truck and does other farm duties as needed. Her sister-in-law brings her children to see harvest and enjoy farm life.

“It’s a family affair,” she said.

The family will have to wait a little longer for harvest this year, which Hulsizer expects to start about Oct. 1. She thinks it will be a good crop.

“We have been blessed with timely rains,” she said. “It will keep us busy on the combine.”

Hulsizer takes time off her regular job as an ADM grain originator to run the combine. In the spring, tillage is her key on-farm duty. She is also involved with the bookwork and accounting, using some of her education in ag business and agronomy from the University of Illinois.

“We are all valuable,” she said of the farm family members.

As for advice for other young people finding their roles on the farm, she says, “Be who you are no matter what you do. You matter to the operation.”

Although her family works well together, there are still challenging days.

“You’ve got to choose to love each other some days,” she said with a chuckle.

Hulsizer, who believes God knew to put the two families together, said their moms have bonded too.

“We’re very blessed,” she said. “We think of how happy our dads would be to see the families working together.”

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Phyllis Coulter is Northern Illinois field editor, writing for Illinois Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Missouri Farmer Today.

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