[Question:] "So, you didn't grow up on a farm?"
     "No. No. I grew up horses… Horses every day, just you know – Like every young girl was, you live, breathe, drink, eat horses. Horse shows every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It was wonderful. So while I wasn't on the farm, interacting with a lot of farm kids and a lot of professional show kids type, too. They were different."
     [Question:] "What are professional show kids?"
     "The people who live in town and take showing to a whole different level. I showed. I enjoyed it. I liked going out and getting on my horse and riding dirt roads. Riding the railroad tracks. We used to play Hide and Go Seek in Stolley Park at midnight because it was fun. Professional show kids would never think of doing anything with their horses that could possibly hurt them. They are there strictly for the showing aspect. Not the fun. I was more of a fun type person."
     [Question:] "I think I can tell that. [Laughter.] And how do you play Hide and Go Seek with a horse?"
     "The same way you do Hide and Go Seek with just people. You just happen to be on horses. And Stolley Park was directly across the street from where we kept the horses. And the trees, there were trees. There were shrubs. There were all sorts of things that aren't there now. And it's dark you just go. And you didn't have to tag anybody. All you had to do was get relative, relatively close enough and say 'You're it.' That's it. Home free was always the, the castle. The castle was always home free."
     [Question:] "What brought you back to the farm?"
     "Helping my [dad]. Best summer job in the world was helping my father especially if your trying to show horses. 'Dad I need Friday afternoon off to wash and get ready. I can't work Saturday, Sunday.' Started out being probably just a tiny bit when I was 14 more so 15 and then really kind of a full time summer job when I was 16. But it was – Where else were you going to work and be able to say I need Friday, Saturday and Sunday off? That's when they always want the kids to work. So that is what started it. We would drive over, either with my father or (at that time) my sister also helped. She was five years older, so she was old enough to drive. And we would drive over and work the farm and then go back…
     "My husband's name is David Derr. He was born in Aurora. He did not come from a farming background. He had not farmed. He had worked one summer on a – I shouldn't call it not farming – but it was cattle. It was milk cows. For a dairy, dairy area. And [he] liked the cows just fine. But he had never done the row crop farming. We met his senior year and then continued to date. I did a year at college and continued to date and took a year off and got married. I worked as a secretary for a while and then went back to the farm."
     [Question:] "Those were difficult times [in the 80s]."
     "It was interesting."
     [Question:] "Why did you decide to try your hand at farming?"
     "Why not? Why not? We were young, you know. What's the worst that could happen? You lose everything you start over. You didn't have anything to lose…
     "We used to laugh and say, 'You have to do something to support your farming habit.' And to this day, we still do. But it was a great place to raise a boy. And by this time we had one child…
     "Country kids get to know what happens in the city, because they get to go to the city. The city kids should get the opportunity to know if they want to give a damn or not. That's up to them. But how can you expect them to care if they have never been there and have never seen it."

Heather Derr – Choosing to Farm


Other Excerpts from Heather Derr’s Interview:

Government Subsidies
Women on the Farm
Choosing to Farm
Raising Kids for Export
Drugs in Rural America
The Miracle of Growing Plants
"Roughing" Weeds
Farmers are Conservationists
Using GPS Tools
Her First Tractor
Computers on the Farm