Running a farm by yourself is challenging and raising four kids by yourself is challenging. Michelle Wolf does them both, simultaneously.
Thirty years ago, Michelle and her husband started Wolf One Farms, cultivating 7,000 acres of dryland and irrigated ground to produce mostly alfalfa. Sadly, Michelle’s husband was killed in an avalanche in 2010.
“We had such a great loss losing him, we didn’t want to lose what’s natural to us, the farm life,” she said. So Michelle and her kids decided to forge ahead through the pain and sadness that comes alongside the tragedy they experienced and continue to farm.
The difficulties of caring for the farm and raising four children are made worthwhile by the benefits Michelle sees her kids gaining from their childhoods on the farm. “My passion is my family. It always has been. I’ve had such a deep appreciation to be able to live on a farm and raise my kids in this lifestyle,” she said.
Farm Credit has been there to support Michelle through thick and thin. In an industry that faces unpredictable markets and erratic weather patterns, having a strong relationship with a lender is vital. This became even more important for Michelle when the stress and emotion of her personal life escalated. She said, “Northwest Farm Credit Services (NWFCS) has been invaluable. The customer service is top notch. They answer your questions and they’re there to help you talk things through. You feel like it’s not just your banker, they’re like you’re friend.”
In the eyes of Bill Lickley, a NWFCS relationship manager, Michelle is a rock star. “The great job that’s she’s done with her family. The great job that she’s done with the farm. The way it looks, the way it operates, the financial situation. She’s one in a million.”
For now, Michelle’s focus is on taking things one day at a time. She said, “I think it’s just about being able to appreciate today.”
However, thinking to the future, she wonders where her children will choose to spend their adult lives. Will they move away from the farm or will they be there to take on the family business? Despite all the unknowns, Michelle can’t help but dream about the possibility of the next generation of Wolfs taking responsibility for Wolf One Farms.
“I mean, wouldn’t that be great to see the farm continue on for another 50, 70, I don’t know how many years. Who knows where [my children] will end up, where their careers will take them, where their future families will be, but this will always be home. This is our foundation.”