Family receives a boost through Project Fresh Start
There are some songs that take you back to a special moment. For Robin Goessling, it’s "My Maria" sung by Brooks and Dunn. In the spring of 1996, that tune was streaming through the radio as she videotaped her husband, Ralph, planting the first few acres with their brand-new John Deere 1780.
"Later when we played the tape, the song so perfectly matched the emotions of the day that Ralph named the planter ‘Maria’ and had it painted on the frame on the planter. From then on the machine was referred to as Maria," Robin says.
Just a few short years later, the mood turned somber as the Goessling family faced one challenge after another. In an effort to give a farmer with extraordinary circumstances an extra boost, Farm Journal partnered with Precision Planting to orchestrate a planter makeover. In the winter of 2011, the Goesslings were chosen as the recipients of Project Fresh Start.
|New in 1996 (top) and like-new again in 2012, the Goessling family’s planter received an overhaul from the inside out, complete with Precision Planting seed meters, planting monitor and row cleaner control system.
"Cindy and I have been very fortunate, and it’s always been important for us to give back," says Gregg Sauder, founder of Precision Planting. "With this program, we wanted to give special consideration to a farmer who has overcome a personal hardship."
Precision Planting pledged up to $75,000 to pick up the planter at the farm and transport it to the Precision Planting pit crew—to be completely refurbished from its hitch pin to its closing wheels.
The backstory. Ralph and Robin started dating as teenagers, married and raised their three children in southern Wisconsin near Whitewater. Together, they operate a family farm and trucking business.
"Our lives were like other farmers’—ups and downs. But one of our biggest challenges came in 2004 when the Wisconsin Department of Transportation decided to build a highway over our farmstead," Robin explains. "This threatened the home where Ralph was born and raised and where we raised our three children. Ralph, being Ralph, couldn’t bear to lose his home and barn, so we picked them up and relocated our farmstead a mile south on our property. It took years, but this is home now."
Despite back-to-back flooding in 2008 and 2009, the family prevailed.
"Between rebuilding the farmstead and the two years of bad weather, it seemed there was never enough money to do all the repairs that were needed. We were getting tired, but Ralph always said his glass was half full, never half empty. We were looking forward to 2010 and hopefully what was going to be a good year," Robin says.
Then, the family encountered what Robin refers to as "the nightmare," which occurred New Year’s Eve 2009 while they were at a dance.
"We danced, he loved to dance, and boy, could he dance," Robin says of Ralph that night. "Then he sat down next to me. As I was looking into his eyes, I thought he wanted to say something to me. But, he never spoke again."
That night, Ralph passed away right in front of his high school sweetheart.
- September 2012