Roy Johnson is 81 years young and still farming in Weld County | TheFencePost.com

Roy Johnson is 81 years young and still farming in Weld County

by Tony Bruguiere :: Ft. Collins, Colo.

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

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Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”

You do not have to spend much time in Weld County, Colo., to realize that its primary industry is agriculture. In fact, of the 2.5 million acres in Weld County, 75 percent of them are devoted to farming and raising livestock. Weld County has over 3,000 farms and it is Colorado’s leading producer of beef cattle, grain, sugar beets, and the state’s leading dairy producer.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says Colorado’s Weld County is No. 8 in the United States in the value of its farm and ranch products. The annual market value of Weld County’s agricultural production is $1.54 billion.

In 2011 Weld County will celebrate its 150th anniversary (1861- 2011). In the early years, agriculture in Weld County was mostly cattle. Then, in the early 1900s, farming began to take center stage as water was brought to fields from the main rivers in the area which make up the South Platte River drainage system.

Many of the Weld County residents of today, which continue to work the rich farm land, can trace their family tree directly to those pioneering farmers in Weld County. One of those is Roy Johnson of LaSalle, Colo. Roy’s parents Emil and Ida Johnson arrived in Colorado in 1901 and began farming in the Pleasant Valley area, which was some of the best farmland in Weld County.

“My folks came over from Sweden when they were teenagers, “said Roy, “and they started farming with practically nothing and they did pretty good. They couldn’t speak English, but when they passed away, they had two farms that were paid for and had four kids that all turned out good.”

Roy Johnson is the youngest of the four kids and grew up in Pleasant Valley. Roy is now 81-years-old and has lived or worked on farms in Weld County all of his life and has some wonderful stories about what farming was like before satellites guided tractors. He shared some of that with Fence Post readers in the September 1, 1983 issue. Back then the Fence Post was in its fourth year of publication and was a whopping 15 pages in size!

Roy submitted a photograph of his father that was taken in 1940. Emil Johnson was shown digging potatoes with a horse powered digger and the horses pushed the digger instead of pulling it. “He farmed with horses for a while and finally got a little money and wanted to modernize so he bought this little tractor.” said Roy, “I found that exact tractor model – a little 1941 Farmall D – down in Colorado Springs and restored it.”

Johnson also has a picture of his older brother Bill, and a grasshopper catcher that his father made from plans that he got from the WPA (Work Projects Administration, the largest of FDR’s New Deal agencies, which ran from 1935 to 1943). The horse drawn catcher was made out of wood and dragged by horses through a field. Jumping grasshoppers hit the catcher and fell into a box. When it was full, the captured grasshoppers were dumped into a ditch. There was no shortage of grasshoppers back then. “I remember the grasshoppers being so bad that in the middle of the day you couldn’t see the fence posts. They crawled up the posts sat there sunning themselves.” said Johnson.

“Dad would pour kerosene on these grasshoppers and we would take hoes and drag them all out into the ditch and then we would throw a match in there and burn them all up. It stunk like heck when we burned them.” said Johnson.

Roy followed his father’s footsteps into farming and got a small 80 acre farm near Fort Lupton, Colo. Like so many others at this time, he farmed sugar beets which he sold to the Great Western Sugar Company. “There wasn’t a lot of money in farming then, so I worked at the sugar factory during the campaigns.” said Roy, “They ran 12 hour shifts, seven days a week, around the clock. So I would farm and also work at the sugar factory. That was kind of rough.”

“My wife, Shirley, she would drive the truck and I would run the beet topper. She was right in there helping me. If it wasn’t for her, I couldn’t have done it.” said Johnson. Roy and Shirley have been married for 56 years. They have been a solid team during that time. You can hear the pride in Shirley’s voice as she says, “Roy was voted the Outstanding Young Farmer by the Fort Lupton Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1959.”

Roy and Shirley Johnson moved to their 300 acre farm in LaSalle, Colo., in 1969 and have been there ever since. Roy has cut back on the farming and sold his son, Gerald, all but 80 acres. But when you have farmed all of your life, a rocking chair is just not in your retirement plan. So Gerald and Roy work the place together. They run a cow/calf operation and have some prize bulls, which Roy takes care of, near the house and he is always there to lend a hand during calving season. They grow their hay for the cattle so Roy still keeps in touch with farming.

“It’s a good life, but it’s like everything else – prices have gotten so unreasonably high that I don’t see how anybody could start on a shoe string like my folks did,” says Roy.

When asked what he was going to do for the next 10 years, he said with a laugh, “I’m going to be right here. We try to stay active and keep our minds on all the good things.”