Family donates a portion of pancake flour proceeds to Jessie’s Heart, in memory of a lost loved one
Farming, and all that goes with it, is at the heart of the Maranville family. Jack and Linda, and their three sons and their families, all play a role on the Matheson, Colo., operation, where they raise wheat, prozo millet, and run commercial cows.
Wes and Marie Maranville came to the Matheson area from Kansas in the 1940s and began their family with sons Jack and Jerry. Jack stayed on the farm and Jerry, 12 years Jack’s senior, was the longtime head of the agronomy department at the University of Nebraska. Jack and Linda’s sons Barry and Scott are full-time on the farm and son Chad manages Pro Ag Solutions in Limon but stays active on the farm as well.
As on many farm operations, the kitchen table is the place where meals are shared, days and plans are discussed, and traditions are passed down. Cindy and Sarah Maranville, Chad and Scott’s wives respectively, said Linda’s table is no exception. Raising a significant number of wheat acres, Linda has always filled the pantries on the farm with whole wheat from the farm that she milled by hand. Whole wheat pancakes were the rule and the preference around the table and that, paired with a trip to a craft fair featuring pretty jellies, sparked the idea for Clear Skies Milling.
The company is a partnership between the two sisters-in-law and has whole wheat pancakes at its heart. The pancake mix, named Papa Jack’s, is the same recipe Jack has been using for years, now bagged for use at other kitchen tables.
“We’ve had whole wheat pancakes in our houses forever, that’s just what our kids know,” Cindy said. “When they don’t have them, they think it’s weird so we thought we could share them with other families.”
Even before the women began packaging the mix, it was truly a farm to fork meal and a tradition they said they married into. Having the experience to extend a piece of their family farm to other families, and even sneak in a bit of education about agriculture, was an opportunity they didn’t want to miss.
The Maranville children are all involved to some extent, especially during harvest. Wesley, Scott and Sarah’s son, took an especially enthusiastic interest in the farm. He spent many hours driving the grain cart during harvest and counting the days until he was 10 and would be allowed behind the wheel of a combine.
Unbeknownst to his family, Wesley was born with a congenital heart defect and passed away playing a basketball game in 2015.
Keeping family at the heart of their business, the two decided to donate a portion of their proceeds during February, Heart Month, to Jessie’s Heart, a Colorado-based organization that provides support for children and their families who are facing congenital heart defects.
“We didn’t face the stress of what could have been had we known Wesley had a heart issue, but if we would have caught it, we would have probably been looking at a heart transplant,” Sarah said.
Had the defect, an anomalous origin of the left coronary artery, been diagnosed, Wesley would have faced numerous surgeries and hospitalizations. This anomaly, Sarah said, is extremely rare and most diagnoses in children are made postmortem in infancy.
“The fact that we had Wesley for 13 years, really is a miracle,” she said.
In hindsight, Sarah said had they known about his condition, his ability to spend long days in the wheat field, work on the equipment, and have a part in the farm that was so dear to his heart, would have been decreased significantly.
“His goal was always to come back here and farm,” Sarah said. “He spent hours driving during fall harvest and, if we had found it, that’s something he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. At least for 13 years he got to do all the things he loved, all the time.”
Knowing how much Wesley loved the farm, Cindy said it only made sense to donate to Jessie’s Heart from proceeds from the farm— and the pancakes — he loved. The two have spent hours milling flour and packaging both flour and pancake mix, allowing them to share a small piece of their family farm. ❖
— Gabel is an assistant editor and reporter for The Fence Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (970) 392-4410.