When I arrived at Seitters Farms, a side-by-side sped past me and slid sideways to a stop on the icy and muddy driveway as if guided by the skill of a professional dirt track racer. When I put my truck in park, I looked over to see Levi Seitters behind the wheel of the UTV, a bright, toothy grin from ear-to-ear.
“That was pretty awesome,” I said.
“She said I should beat you here,” Levi spouted, referencing his sister, who was seated next to him.
While this might not seem like a big deal to you, the skill with which Levi maneuvered the UTV was impressive if you consider the fact that he’s only nine-years old.
Levi showed up on my “Local Flavor” radar when his grandmother recounted a story about someone asking him if he wanted to be a farmer when he grew up. “I’m already a farmer!” Levi had yelled angrily in response. When I mentioned this to him, he recalled it and straightened up proudly. This, indeed, is serious business.
According to Levi, he’s been farming for five years. His mother, Heidi Lampert-Seitters, didn’t disagree.
Levi took me to see the dairy cows and quickly identified all four breeds for me: Holstein, red Holstein, Jersey, and Guernsey. As we went on the tour of the farm, it was apparent he knew where every switch was as well as what they all did. He also knew how to drive the front end loader, which he revealed was his favorite part of farming. Levi has also driven the semi that they use to transport the hay, but said he doesn’t like that too much. “The bails fell off,” he admitted.
He does like working with cows — especially petting them — and while he does like milking, he actually doesn’t drink milk except for chocolate and strawberry. He agreed with me that brown cows make chocolate milk, but I’m pretty sure he was pulling my leg.
One thing he wasn’t kidding about was the importance of having farmers so that we can have wheat to make bread and other foods. Levi came right out and said he thinks there’s a shortage of farmers. When asked why, he responded, “Maybe ’cause it’s really hard work.”
The hard work doesn’t scare him, though; he was quite nonchalant about the fact he was covered in both mud and cow dung, and plans wholeheartedly on not only having his own farm, but living off-grid in the future. On his own farm, he would “have a whole bunch of dogs — and would grow the highest grade of wheat. I’ll need a tractor and a seeder, and a combine.” For animals, “I would have to say definitely Jerseys and it would be a milking operation. Cows, turkeys for turkey bacon, pigs, chickens, yeah to everything. Sheep to make my own clothes,” Levi explained.
You may have caught the “turkey bacon” comment. Levi is a big fan of that, and prefers it over traditional bacon, because “it takes two minutes in the microwave and it tastes better.”
He doesn’t limit himself to the thought of having his own farm in the future — he has considered other career paths. One of the options he considers is running a front end loader at Vaagens. “I want to do that cause that’s the top thing to run, so you get paid a lot of money,” Levi reasoned.
Another possibility is taking over the family business when his dad retires, but with a caveat. He explained that he’d consider it “If my cousin will help me. I don’t want to hire people and be a boss because they might just sit around and play on their phones.”
Levi looked up at me from beneath the brim of his baseball cap. “Farming is really hard, no days off, not one single day off, even if it’s a holiday.” So what does he get out of it? “Mostly for me nothing — no reward, I don’t even get money — I do it because I want to.”
Levi’s advice to those who are considering farming is: “You always wear a hat on a farm and carry a knife — the hat keeps the sun out of your eyes because you’re mostly walking all day — and the knife to cut bales.”
You can for sure find Levi showing dairy cows at the Dairy Barn during the NE Washington Fair each August. A special thanks goes out to his mom for allowing this interview.
This article originally appeared in the January 2020 edition of the Silverado Express newspaper. Local Flavour is a series about people in the NE Washington region. For more information, visit http://facebook.com/SilveradoExpress.