Let Your Love Shine, All Year Long
The closer we get to Valentine’s Day, the more advertisements there are for roses and chocolates. Why wait for one special day to send flowers or to write sweet nothings? Why not hide love notes around the house or treat your spouse to a nice dinner for no particular reason? Why not send random text messages throughout the day to let her know that you’re thinking of her?
Let your loved ones know just how much they mean is Mark Rother’s mantra. He’s been married for 37 years to his childhood friend, and he feels so fortunate that he has worked with both of his sons. He considers his daughters-in-law to be bonus members of his family and is delighted that all five grandchildren live within four miles of the family farm.
Mark loves that he and Sue can attend the grandkids’ activities and help out when they’re needed. Ryan and his wife, Becky, are parents of three daughters: Rosie, 10; Brooke, 6, and JJ, 2.5 years old. Tony and his wife, Jessica, are the parents of Landon, 6, and Olivia, 3.
“I’m not rich in a monetary sense,” says Mark, “but my life is rich in all the ways that matter most.” He and his wife, Sue, live on the farm south of Sheffield in North Central Iowa that’s been in Mark’s family since 1921. They got married in 1978 and had the distinction of getting the first beginning farmer loan that the local bank had written in about 30 years. When the Farm Crisis of the 1980s hit, he said the bank was probably second-guessing their decisions but Mark and Sue weathered the storm. They did body work and automotive repair plus Mark took on carpentry jobs to bring in additional income.
Two decades later the Rother’s sons each found their passions from working side-by-side with their parents. After graduating from Ellsworth Community College, Ryan took a job with the state’s leading masonry company. He enjoyed his work, but it took him away from home for long stretches. With a wife and children, he decided to start his own carpentry and masonry business. Mark went to work for Ryan and continued farming.
A few years later when Tony graduated from North Iowa Area Community College, he also wanted to farm. The family’s operation wasn’t large enough to support everyone, so Tony decided to start his own trucking business. Today Mark helps Tony haul loads, including shipments of Latham® Hi-Tech Seeds. Their trucking business is a good complement to their farming operation since they can haul through the winter months.
“What I enjoy most about farming is freedom I have,” says Mark. “I love the independence. I enjoy being my own boss and making my own decisions. There is just something be said about the earthy smell of working the ground in the spring and fresh cut hay in the summer. Our kids had a lot of responsibilities as they were growing up. We had a lot of livestock and they had to help. I really believe that teaches them a lot of life lessons.”
The boys learned to work hard, but Mark admits that he was raised by a workaholic father and was a workaholic himself. The older he gets, the more he understands the importance of work-life balance. That’s why he and Sue spend as much time camping and boating. Last summer they rented a houseboat and enjoyed vacationing with their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren on the Mississippi River. They also enjoy making memories when their families come over to spend time in the swimming pool or sleepover in the pool house.
“Susie’s grandmother passed away and left her $3,500. Susie wanted something to remember her by,” says Mark. “Since our boys were small at the time, Susie decided to buy a 28-foot swimming pool. We’ve zillion memories with our kids and now our grandkids.”
Recently the Rothers built a pool house that’s more like a cabin with a deck, overlooking the pool. It has lofted sleeping quarters, which their grandkids especially enjoy. There’s also a kitchenette and a patio, so they can fix meals outdoors and maximize their pool time.
In honor of enjoying life’s simple pleasures, today the Rothers are sharing one of their family’s favorite comfort foods. This crock pot recipe is perfect for the planting or harvesting seasons or when curling up beside a fire on a cold winter’s day.
Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
- 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
- 4 T butter
- 2 ½ cups (10 oz.) sharp cheddar block, shredded
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 can (10 ¾ oz.) cheddar cheese soup
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ tsp dry mustard
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Boil macaroni 7 minutes; drain.
- In a saucepan, mix butter and cheese. Stir until melted.
- Combine all ingredients in crock pot, adding macaroni last.
- Cow on low for 3 hours.