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Middle School Sweethearts Pass on Life and Farming Lessons to Next Generation

Jun 23, 2023Jun 23, 2023

From left, Janette, Logan, Lexi, Tim and Lyle Lesher stand with two of their Red and White Holsteins.

PITMAN, Pa. — When Tim and Janette Lesher of Lesher Ag Products began their courtship as middle school sweethearts, they never imagined the life they would build together decades later.

Now married 18 years, the couple manages three farms and a combined 600 acres while also orchestrating busy lives of their three children — Lexi, 14, Lyle, 12, and Logan, 10. Janette also works off-farm for the USDA, putting her degree in agronomy to work.

“We don’t see each other much,” laughed Tim.

The Lesher family raises pork and beef while Tim simultaneously works his parents’ 70-head all-Holstein dairy farm and his father-in-law’s grain farm after he retired two years ago.

“When we got married, we were raising dairy beef steers and selling quarters, halves and wholes ... a local butcher was processing them for us,” Tim explained. “Then five years ago we went through the process and got our retail license through the Department of Agriculture so we can now retail cuts of meat.” The Leshers butcher 20-25 steers annually.

Lyle Lesher stands with his Red and White Heifer Jasmine who was born on the family farm.

Tim said they added pigs to their farm, not because he wanted to, but because his son Lyle has an “obsession with pigs.”

The family sells their products at Crossroads Market in Gratz every Friday, at Green’s Farm Stand in Elysburg and opens their farm to visitors for meat pickups on Saturdays.

“Everything is born and raised here on the farm,” Janette said of what makes their products special. “We don’t give additional growth hormones or antibiotics. They are grain-fed and they do get some hay and pasture.”

Janette said their children know about as much about the animals as they do. “(They) can tell you the day the animal was born, the mom’s name and how much they get fed.”

She continued, “The barn is right here on our property where we sell the meat on Saturdays so people can see the animals, they can see the clean bedding, they can see the pasture. People like that.”

Janette said customers appreciate knowing where their meat is raised, adding they don’t bring in any additional feed sources.

“Everything is right here from our farm,” she said.

Janette said she and Tim started small, but have always had high hopes.

“After we got married, we started farming together and kept diversifying and finding our niche,” she said. “(Farming) is something the kids have been enjoying, so we’re always looking for something more to keep them engaged.”

Logan Lesher proudly displays his ribbon after winning reserve champion lightweight steer at the Schuylkill County Fair.

Janette hopes their upbringing will lead them into taking over the operation at some point. “We want to make sure there's something for them to keep going with it.”

Tim said, “We like working with our local customers ... they get to know us and they know our kids by first name.”

In fact, he said many of their customers prefer to work with the kids directly.

“Our kids know where everything is, they know how to make change, they know how to add a bill and they have been involved since the beginning,” Tim said.

All three children participate in 4-H, starting with dairy cows, which progressed to pigs, then rabbits, and most recently the youngest, Logan, started showing goats. The kids are now asking to show dairy heifers.

“Most of the time they tend to their own animals ... that’s one of their chores,” Tim said.

They also have their own milking cows.

Janette said, “Lexi can milk by herself and the boys can milk with an assistant. They’re really in tune with the dairy.”

This summer at the Schuylkill County Fair, Lexi was reserve champion showman for dairy beef and grand champion with her meat pen of rabbits.

Lexi Lesher poses with her prize winning Heifer Autumn.

She also earned second in showmanship for her pig. Lexi is serving as the Schuylkill County dairy maid.

Logan and Lexi were in line for supreme champion dairy heifer. Logan showed goats and a rabbit and earned reserve champion lightweight steer.

In addition to on-farm responsibilities, Logan and Lyle play football and wrestle.

Lexi plays basketball and is trying out for high school volleyball this year. She is also a junior firefighter, following in her father’s footsteps. He is a first responder with Mahantongo Fire Co.

At their school, Tri-Valley Junior-Senior High School, students can join FFA in eighth grade.

Lexi has been in FFA since that time and is working on creed speaking. This summer, she received the star discovery degree award for her work in agriculture.

“This isn’t our job, it's our way of life,” said Janette on farming. “Our kids don't know any different. They all have things they’re good at.”

She said Logan tends to be their skid loader operator, while Lyle’s the mechanic. “He likes to fix things. Lexi's more in tune with the animals, so we divide and conquer and get it all done,” Janette said.

The Leshers said they are always looking for ways to impart important life lessons to their children, such as having a strong work ethic, working hard, and problem solving. They also want their children to be proud of what they accomplish, with an air of humility.

“We want them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished and keep working hard to keep doing better and better every year,” said Janette.

Tim said perhaps most importantly, he wants his kids to be able to admit when they’re wrong and learn from it.

Janette said when the kids are showing animals at a fair or talking to a customer on the farm, she wants them to be transparent and speak eloquently about how the animals are raised and the process they go through from farm to table.

“I think it’s important for people in agriculture to be able to educate their consumers,” she said.

For more information about Lesher Ag Products, search for them on Facebook or find them on Fridays at the Crossroads Market in Gratz.

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