An amazing woman has come to my attention. Her name is Jean Hardy and she was the daughter of a farmer, then became a farmer’s wife, and now at the age of eighty-eight, she is the farmer, so she has lived on a farm for almost all of her eighty-eight years here on this earth. She was born in St, Angelo, Texas and came to California when she was just six years old. 

At first, her family settled in the Salinas Valley to help with vegetables. Then, the family bought a twenty-acre farm and moved to Kerman, which is west of Fresno, when Jean was twelve years old. On this farm, the family grew zinnias and sold the flower seeds. (Zinnias thrive in the heat and sun of the San Joaquin summers.)

Leroy and Jean Hardy

Several years later when Jean was sixteen and a half, she caught the eye of the son of a cotton farmer next door. His name was LeRoy and their first date was to attend church together, because her dad said that was where LeRoy could escort her. Thereafter, most of their dates were attending church. LeRoy and Jean were married on June 30th, 1948 and bought their own farm in Kerman, which is west of Fresno, in 1950. They lived as farmers for seventy-one years and had two daughters, Pat Abercrombie and Bev Allen. Pat still lives by Jean (just three miles down the road) and Bev and her husband, John, have an almond orchard here in Bakersfield. You can say that the Hardys are a farming family, and you can also say that LeRoy was the love of Jean’s life.

Jean has seen a lot of changes in farming over the many years she has lived on farms. She states that the biggest change in farming is agricultural technology. When she was just a girl living on the farm, they did everything by hand, especially in growing cotton, and now everything is done by machines. 

Jean and Leroy Hardy. Newlyweds 1948 in Kerman, California.

Today, Jean’s farm is three thousand acres of grapes and almond trees. With the help of a couple of foremen, including her brother, Everett Hilliard, and twenty-five steady workers, Jean grows grapes for Gallo and also raises almonds trees. Jean enjoys the excitement and challenges of farm life and she stays busy. Her workers are very special to her. Her grapes are also special, and the types of grapes that she grows arecabernet, ruby cabernet, grenache, French colombard, syrah, renoit, and ruby red. She raises three kinds of almonds, including the monterey and nonpareil. The day that I called to interview Jean she told me that that very evening, she along with her workers, plus six machines, were meeting at 9:00 at night to harvest grapes and she planned on harvesting at least fifteen to sixteen rows of grapes.

During the interview, I asked Jean how important faith was to her and she said, “Faith is the only thing that can get your through the business of farming.” By that, she meant that farming is so complex today and farmers face so many issues and uncontrollable challenges that a farmer knows and understands that he (in this case, she) needs the help of an almighty God, who does control the weather and the economy.

I can only pray that when I am eighty-eight (if God blesses me with that many years) that I am as enthusiastic and feisty and interesting as Jean Hardy. What a blessing to still be able to work and help others at a time when most people are giving up on living. Farmers, as Jean typifies, defy the odds and keep on doing the best job that they possibly can, every single day.

Prayer: God, send a blessing on the houses, barns, and fields of the farmers and ranchers. Bless their crops and animals that they raise. Keep their equipment reliable and send the sun and rain in its due season. Remind the farmers that you are the One who helps the crops grow. 

As Psalm 65:9 & 10 states: “Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it: thou greatly enriches it with the river of God, which is full of water: thou prepares them corn, when thou hast so provided for it. Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly: thou settlest the furrows thereof: thou makest it soft with showers: thou blesses the springing thereof.” 

(If you know of an interesting farmer/s who thinks that faith is important, please send me their name and contact info to: I would like to write an article about them.)

SOURCESandy Mittelsteadt, Valley Ag Voice
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