Legacy With The Land – MyFarmlife.com
Ryan Davidson’s road to success winds through five generations and two life-altering personal challenges. Legacy is what inspires him to move forward.
Legacy With The Land – MyFarmlife.comRyan Davidson’s road to success winds through five generations and two life-altering personal challenges. Legacy is what inspires him to move forward.
It’s nothing new for farmers to make tough decisions. And the nature of the business is such that those decisions are often informed by—and carry the weight of—generations of wisdom and stewardship.
Family is involved in decision-making. Again, nothing new. Adult children farm with their parents. Siblings farm together on family land. It’s the American way of farming.
But what if two prior generations of wisdom leave the farm suddenly, leaving a young farmer to move forward? And what if a remaining parent is, also suddenly, called upon to save that young farmer’s life?
Raymond Davidson and his son, Mike (above), were full-share partners in Davidson Farm as the new century turned over in 2000. They were already the third and fourth generation on the family land, near Tioga, North Dakota. Mike’s son, Ryan, was still in high school at the time, but very much a part of the family business.
“I was active in the field from the time I was in first grade,” says Ryan, now the fifth generation. “I’d be picking rock, changing sweeps on cultivators, washing windows, you name it,” he says.
“He was his dad and grandpa’s shadow”
Raymond became very ill in 2001 and passed away in 2002. Ryan had just started college at nearby Williston State, but “I was already farming full-time,” he says. He had learned from the best. “He was his dad and grandpa’s shadow,” says Holly Wheeler, Ryan’s mom, who also helped on the farm, mostly working the books.
The fall of 2004, Holly says, was one of their worst. It was wet, it was cold; harvest approached and the crops weren’t mature. Then just two years after losing Raymond, the family lost Mike.
“My husband had an accident,” says Holly. “He didn’t survive.” From a business standpoint, Mike’s share of the farm turned over to Holly, but the day-to-day operations—and the decision-making—fell to Ryan.
The kid who had been in the field since First Grade was ready. “Ryan just didn’t take a second thought about stepping into those shoes,” says Holly.
Learn more about Ryan’s journey.