ADAMSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Walking through pastures feeding cattle and tending to farm needs, Larry Lapp reflects on the importance of keeping his family's history and work alive.
"It's neat to learn about these things," he said. "My dad died in 2006, and I still have so many questions (about the farm) I'd like to ask but I can't. If you've got questions about it, you need to find out so you can pass it down. I'm trying to pass it on to my grandson."
Lapp owns Lapp Farms in Adamsville, working the almost 950 acres of land with his son Lee with the help of 12-year-old grandson Garrett. Eight generations have farmed on this land for the last 164 years, and Lapp has made a conscious effort to recognize his forefathers' hard work.
The Lapp Farm was recently designated as an Ohio Century Farm by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Century farm status is awarded to families who have owned the same farm for at least 100 consecutive years. Lapp was one of 78 families who registered their farm in 2012, receiving a plaque along with a sign that hangs at the farm's entrance on Lapp Lane.
There now are more than 950 farms registered across the state, with 14 in Muskingum County.
Lapp said family friend Bonnie Bowden spent many hours researching deeds, wills and transfers, a long but fascinating process.
"It's interesting because everything had to be documented, and for me it was fun to see how the farm grew," Lapp said. "It started out as 50 acres that my great-great-great-grandfather Benajah Spragg bought in 1849."
Lapp said Benajah Spragg willed the farm to his nine children, and in 1914 Martha Shirer inherited it from Lapp's great-great-grandfather Phillip Spragg. Then Lapp's great-great grandfather Robert Shirer inherited it in 1929, who in turn passed it to Lapp's grandfather Floyd Lapp. Floyd passed it on to his son Bryce Lapp, Lapp's father, in 1957. Larry Lapp assumed ownership in 1998. It is in his name, but will be left to his son Lee, who lives on the farm.
Lapp said the farm has grown in acreage almost every 10 years since the 1940s as he or his father purchased more surrounding land. He said the original 50 acres accounting for Century Farm status is covered by crops and pasture.
Lapp Farms specializes in corn and soybean crops and cattle. He said there are 300 head of cattle, 700 acres of corn and soybeans, and 150 to 170 acres of hay.
While the 2012 summer months were a challenge to farmers across the nation, Lapp said their farm fared well.
"During the drought this summer it was dry through here, but we got rain at the right time," he said. "I was hoping for 20 to 30 bushels of corn, but it averaged 135 bushels (per acre, about 300 acres). And there were 56 bushels of beans (per acre, about 300 acres). There wasn't a second cut of hay, but we did have a decent crop."
Lapp said the "secret" to the family farm success is "change and diversifying over the years, love of the land, family and seeing things grow."
"From my part, it's not a lot about making money," he said. "You have to make some money, but we've done well. We've been fortunate to have a good farm. And I know Garrett is interested in it. He's got cows here, 4H steer, and I hope he'll take it over."