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Agnes "Aggie" Piskule, 81, and husband Kenny Piskule, 87, of rural Kimball, talk recently in their home about their farming operation. (Chris Huber/Republic)

Kimball couple still farming in their 80s

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Kimball couple still farming in their 80s
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

KIMBALL -- Agnes "Aggie" Piskule, 81, has a ready explanation for why she and her husband Kenny Piskule, 87, continue to farm their own land in rural Kimball.

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"It's that pride," she said. "As long as we're able to move, we're going to farm."

Together, they have been farming the same land near Kimball since they were married in 1949.

Kenny Piskule's history with the farm goes back even further than that -- he was born right in the farmhouse the couple live in today. The house was built by his father after he got out of the Army in 1919.

By the time he was 12 years old, Kenny Piskule was already driving a tractor.

Farming was all he ever wanted to do.

"If you're a farmer, it's just something you like," he said. "It's bred into you."

The pair grow wheat, corn and soybeans on 1,100 acres of the 1,920 acres they own.

While in the past they raised cattle as well as crops, they were forced to give up the livestock for a simple reason, Kenny Piskule said.

"We were slowing down and the cows were getting faster."

The Piskules' farm had been home to as many as 200 cattle before the two stopped raising them. It wasn't an easy transition, they admit.

"We did miss the cows for two or three years after that," Kenny Piskule said.

Even without cattle, Piskule said he still puts in 12 to 13 hours each day during busy times of the year.

Despite the long hours, both said there is nothing they would rather be doing.

"It's not hard to go out," Kenny Piskule said. "Running the combine is my joy."

This year's harvest is already over for the Piskules, who said they finished up a few weeks ago.

In total, the Piskules' harvest produced a wheat yield of about 48 bushels an acre and a soybean yield of about 35 bushels an acre.

No corn was planted at the Piskules' farm this year, as surgery last spring prevented Kenny Piskule from working for a time.

After more than half a century of farming, the Piskules have witnessed countless changes in the industry.

"It's unbelievable what's changed," Kenny Piskule said. "It seems like every five years there is a drastic change. It's fantastic."

While many of the changes have made farming life easier for the Piskules, there are some they are hesitant to embrace.

"There are so many different things you can do now," Kenny Piskule said. "You can farm with computers now, not that I like that all that much."

However, he was quick to admit to the advantages of modern farming technology.

"It has made it so much easier," Kenny Piskule said. "You can go so much faster. It's amazing how it works."

One change the Piskules haven't enjoyed seeing is how hard it has become for the younger generation to start farming in today's economic climate.

"It's too bad that a lot of them would like to stay on the farm, but they just can't do it," Kenny Piskule said.

The Piskules themselves know how difficult farming can be -- both lived through the Dust Bowl era, when ferocious dust storms devastated the Great Plains in the 1930s.

Kenny Piskule described the experience simply.

"They weren't good," he said.

Even today, the couple admit how scary it can be to know their livelihood is dependent on the weather.

"We depend on our crops," Aggie Piskule said.

Even with the risks, the Piskules plan to continue to farm their land themselves, despite some family members and others asking if they wouldn't rather rent out their land and move to town.

To those questions, Aggie Piskule has just one question.

"What would we do in town?"

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