By Marda Johnson
For the Times Sentinel
More than 300 people turned out Thursday evening, March 7, to pay tribute to two longtime Boone County farmers and their wives, recognizing their outstanding careers in local agricultural and in the community.
Terry Darnell and wife Barbara, and Ed Strong and wife Sharon, were presented the Distinguished Agricultural Career Awards at the 76th annual Boone County Breeders and Feeders Association Banquet-Fish Fry in the Farm Bureau Community Building on the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds.
Both couples received plaques after Master of Ceremonies David Mohler shared the farmers’ backgrounds.
Terry Darnell of Thorntown was born Oct. 1, 1937, at the home of his grandparents in Lebanon. Farming was in Terry’s blood and he was offered an opportunity in 1957, when Dwight Kendall needed a farming partner near Walnut Grove, located west of Thorntown.
His first tractor was an International 400. He remembers taking the International 400 to the field and needing to take extra fuel to be able to run until noon. At that time he paid 15 cents per gallon for gas.
Terry was grateful to purchase his first John Deere in 1964, and has had “John Deere Fever” ever since.
When Terry started farming he raised sheep, hogs and chickens, and milked cows. Over the years, he narrowed his farming concentration down to a hog operation. He specialized in raising breeding stock for Boar Power.
Terry served on the Boone County Fair Board for several years, was in charge of renting vendor space in the commercial building and served on the Production Credit Board for 12 years.
Terry and his wife, Barbara, were married on March 30, 1958. They had three children including a daughter, Melissa, who they lovingly cared for in their home for 49 years. She succumbed to Muscular Dystrophy in 2010. They have two other children, daughter Aleta, married to Mike McKenzie, and son Scott, married to Christina (Talbert). Terry and Barbara are the proud grandparents of four grandchildren.
Terry suffered a stroke in 1998 but continued farming as much as possible. About four years ago, he changed the farm operation to a 50-50 crop share, partnering with his son, Scott. Terry was able to get in the combine and the tractors this past fall and help with most of the harvesting.
Terry claims one of the wisest things he ever did was to marry Barbara, and it has been a wonderful, loving farm partnership for 55 years.
Ed Strong grew up on a farm in Boone County’s Washington Township. His father was a farmer.
He started farming with his father in 1957, and because of his father’s health problems, Ed took over and rented the farm from his father. His father gave him 10 sows to use to get some pigs, and out of those 10 litters he got 11 gilts, with which started his hog operation.
Ed started with the hogs and Pole Hereferd cattle. Each year he would buy an additional 30 to 35 head from Virginia to combine with the ones he’d raised. In 1960 he rented 135 acres in partnership from a neighbor, which included a house. He married Sharon and lived on that farm for 11 years.
In 1967, Ed purchased the home place and rented additional ground in the area. He sold the cattle and moved onto the home place and started raising more hogs.
In 1974, he built a finishing building. A couple of years later he built a nursery and enlarged the hog operation. He also raised corn, soybeans and wheat.
As the years went by, Ed was able to buy more farm ground and expand.
He fathered two sons, Rob and Scott Strong, and has two grandchildren.
Ed retired from farming in 2008 and rented out the farm.
“Sharon has been my wife and best friend for 53 years,” he noted. “She kept the books, and we worked together side by side all these years.”