Jim Keasler talks like a man who knows his true purpose in life.
“I’ve always thought this is what God wanted me to do with my life, as far as being a productive member of society,” Keasler said.
Keasler, his wife Karen, and his brother-in-law Carl Payne and wife Connie own Keasler Farms outside of Ridgway. They are members of St. Kateri Tekawitha Parish.
Their farm had the distinction of hosting the Spring Farm Blessing for the Diocese of Belleville on April 10.
Connie said the blessing was an important event in their lives because, as she put it, “I think it is important to have God’s blessings on everything. The more blessings the better.”
Those blessings include good soil and good weather, Jim said. “We were blessed that our forefathers stopped here in Gallatin County.”
Keasler is optimistic about the plight of the family farmer today. At least the family farmer in Gallatin County.
“Most of the marginal farmers were weeded out in the 1980s and 1990s,” he noted. That said, farming isn’t a profession that’s open to most people.”
“You really have to inherit the land,” he said. “The machinery and land is too expensive otherwise.”
Keasler said that farming, even in southern Illinois, is not without its challenges. “The average age of the farmer is 65,” he said. “Most kids go off to college and don’t come back. They aren’t interested.”
He’s not sure it matters in the long run. Soon farming will about one guy in an office running self-driving tractors via his smart phone.
“I like it to be more about people than machines,” Keasler said. “I like it just like it is now.”