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New county leader Scott Wetherford carries on in Lapeer

Aside from his Attica Township hay farm, Lapeer County Farm Bureau President Scott Wetherford leads hunts with his rambunctious golden Goose.
Date Posted: March 18, 2024

When I called Scott Wetherford to schedule our meeting he asked if I wanted to meet him at the Lapeer County Farm Bureau office or his farm. Easy: Farm always wins.

But he seemed…cautious: “Not much to see there,” he said, but he wasn’t looking through my eyes.

He agreed and got really specific about where Google Maps was going to send me in relation to the township line’s survey-correction jog. I arrived three minutes early so I detoured north across the drain and the railroad crossing, just to look.

“I’ll probably be in the big red pole barn out back,” he’d said. That’s the newest structure on the 80-acre corner grandpa and grandma, Elmer and Mary Wetherford, took on around 1962, 63.

His caution now seemed like apprehension when Scott said he wasn’t sure what he was in for with my visit.

“I just try to write profile articles about our new county presidents,” I said. “Nothing formal. It’s not like I came here with a list of questions; we’re just having a conversation. 

“I’m not recording you and I probably won’t take many notes — I can barely read my own handwriting anymore.”

Approaching the crossing I’d just visited half a mile north, a train signaled its approach. Scott pointed to where you could see the locomotives pulling the hoppers and tankers and gondolas.

“Every couple hours. That’s the main line between Chicago and the tunnel to Canada at Port Huron,” Scott said, explaining how the trains used to be longer but now max out at about two miles. They’ll signal again approaching the next section-line road a mile to the east, then again two miles down.

And sure enough, just like clockwork, the last car disappeared two signals later.

Peeking through the tree line we scanned the eastern 40 and the house next door he grew up in. The next tree line beyond that marked the property’s edge. About a third of the hay between here and there needs replanting this year.

“Hope you don’t mind I just help myself to a tour,” I said as we strolled clockwise around the circuit of outbuildings, starting from the new red hay barn at 12 o’clock.

At 2 o’clock is an older shed, open to the south, fashioned from weathered grey 4x8s of particle board.

“I helped my dad build this one in the late 80s — scraps from the lumber yard,” he said. “He kept the steers in here.” Dad’s been gone some years now.

At about 4 o’clock is another open shed, roughly the same size only clad with panels of corrugated steel. 

“Grandpa built this one,” making it part of the original setup from the 60s. This and that beam want replacing “but the roof doesn’t leak” so its future has Scott on a fence. (My opinion isn’t worth a wet square but I felt secure inside it, so I hope Elmer’s shed’s still there next time I visit.)

The southernmost structure is also grandpa’s handiwork — where he kept the pigs.

Me: “Pigs too?”

Scott: “Yeah I grew up raising pigs.”

At 7 o’clock is a small red steel shed sheltering only an old tractor tire. Scott built this one for his daughter’s show steers. Now the same daughter’s eyeing the house (9 o’clock) and some of the outbuildings if she goes into boarding animals — a tempting option given the built-in hay supply.

On that point dad’s in good shape. A few years ago Scott was able to stop working heavy machinery and farm full-time on a relatively small patchwork of owned and rented hay ground. 

Adding new ground is always on his mind, but competition, even for small parcels, is fierce here and many sales happen before this or that field’s availability even comes to light. Certain “big guys” have big ears, deep pockets and they swoop in fast (but that’s another article.)

By now a solid hour’s passed and Scott’s been good about indulging my curiosity, even when our conversation wandered into unexpectedly personal corners of the old outbuildings between his ears.

Scott: “I turned 46 in January.”

Me: “What day?”

Scott: “Eighteenth.”

Me: “Mine’s the ninth. I turned 55.”

There was a little pause and he squinted at me and his next words came from an even more sincere place, like the familiar comfort of an old friend: “Do you feel it?”

I chuckled and assured him that yes, physically, I feel every daily ache and pain of it. But that’s not what he meant.

“Because I don’t feel 46. I feel like I’m in my 30s maybe.”

We compared our arthritic notes but then his face lit up again when he said, “I’ve never had a surgery.”

Well good for you, young buck — good for you…

I looked at my watch and he said, “You gotta get on the road,” and he was right. (Barely time left for a quick road lunch and a no-nonsense route up to Harbor Beach.) 

And it was just as well: Goose was getting antsy. Two-year-old Labradors are built for hunting and tearing around full-tilt, not sitting idly by like the good dog he’d been since I pulled in. I suggested Scott let him out so he could be in the picture.

“He’s about to not be such a good boy,” he said, undoing the latch. And sure enough, Goose charged straight at me from across the place, full-tilt like the next two-mile train, eastbound for Canada every couple hours.

Portrait of MFB Member Communications Specialist Jeremy Nagel.

Jeremy Nagel

Member Communications Specialist
517-323-6885 [email protected]