Medical tech comes home to farm

SAC CITY – Many years, experiences and miles later, Linda Ritchie is back home caring for and managing her family’s farm.

Ritchie said it was encouragement from her dad, Louie Bethune, that brought her back to help manage their family’s 720 acres in Sac County that is now owned by Ritchie and her two siblings.

“Dad wanted me to run the family farm,” said Ritchie, “it’s our property, we own it.

“It’s been left to us to keep.”

Ritchie said she lived near Carnarvon on one of their farms, before moving to another farm near Sac City in 1945.

After graduating high school in Sac City, Ritchie attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., and followed her dream of wanting to move to California.

After spending some time in California, Ritchie moved to Oregon before settling in Omaha for 22 years, all the while working as a medical technician.

In 2000, she decided it was time to move back to Sac City and not only help care for her father, but to take over the family farm.

Although it was a small culture shock after living in a city as large as Omaha and having everything at her fingertips, Ritchie said she soon adjusted to small-town life again.

She said she enjoys helping her father with his large garden, but most of all being able to help save their Century Farm through various conservation efforts.

“The land means a lot,” she said. “One was a Century Farm in 2000, and I don’t want to see it abused and washed away.”

A portion of Ritchie’s land has been involved in the Black Hawk Lake Watershed Project for the past two years.

This particular parcel of land near Carnarvon, she said, has a creek that drains directly into Black Hawk Lake and measures are being taken through the watershed project to keep its water clean, in order to then help the lake survive as the popular recreational area it is.

Ritchie said other farms feature terraces, which she feels is a smart idea to help protect the hills and the landscape of her land. Last fall she started working with the area conservation services to further introduce conservation practices.

“I was prepared to have to do something,” she said. “I really care and have always cared about the land.”

Fortunately, Ritchie said, her tenants are also conservation-minded, practicing some no-till and considering using cover crops.

Ritchie said she is proud to be helping a young farmer, Scott Poen, get his start farming. Poen’s father-in-law has been a long-time tenant of Ritchie’s ground.

She said she is comfortable with Poen farming her land and at ease knowing the same family that has been cropping it will be able to continue.

“I don’t tell them what to do,” Ritchie said. “They are conservation minded and that is something I certainly do appreciate.”