Tribune Recorder Leader

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Stoney Acres – Generations Strong

Jackie Salowitz
Tribune Recorder Leader

When you see pride in a man’s eyes as he listens to his son and grandson talk about their livelihoods, you know that he has walked a mile in their shoes, he knows of the hardships and also the love that they have for the very same occupation that he had and still has.

Four Generations of the Stone Family – Randy, Craig, Hayden and Riley in the front.

Hayden Stone of Deckerville has been farming his whole life, and his son, Randy, and grandson, Craig, have followed in his footsteps. Although Hayden has worn many different hats in his lifetime, from milking cows, to driving a milk truck and working at Yale Rubber and raising four children, to owning an insurance company, you can see that he still gets much enjoyment from farming.
Hayden grew up in a time when as he said, “We still had horses, and everyone else had tractors.” His first tractor, a 19-horsepower “General”, made by the Cleveland Tractor Company is just a little smaller than the 600 horsepower “Challenger” that is now the workhorse for the family.

This Challenger is a little bigger than Hayden’s first tractor with only 19 horsepower.

The Stone family was just like every other farmer of the past – starting out with a few acres and a few cows, and acquiring land when the opportunity was there. Both Hayden, and his wife, Eleanor, grew up on farms, with Eleanor milking cows at night when Hayden was working. The couple met through piano lessons, as Hayden figured out that if he took piano lessons, he could miss out on a few of the farm chores, and Eleanor was also taking piano lessons. They milked cows from 1955-1964, also starting an insurance company in 1959.
The Stones raised four children, Dale, Randy, Brad and Chris. Randy attended Michigan State University for Ag Tech, purchasing his first 80 acres in 1979. He worked for Stone Insurance during the winter, and farmed in the summer. Dale, Brad and Chris also all worked for the insurance company (Brad and Chris still work there). Randy and his wife, Judy, were picking stones one day, when Judy’s mom called asking what they were doing, and from that conversation, the name “Stoney Acres” was born.
Randy and Judy have one son, Craig. He went on to go to college at Ferris State for Heavy Equipment. Instead of coming home to work on the farm, his dad thought that it might be a “good idea to work elsewhere for awhile”. So, he worked at both TNT Equipment and Farm Depot in Caro.After working sometimes 70+ hours a week, it was a lot to come home and also help on the farm when his dad needed the extra hands. So, now, Craig and his wife, Coleen, and two children, Riley and Payton, are also part of Stoney Acres.

Front (l-r): Riley and Payton Stone. Back (l-r): Hayden, Coleen, Craig, Judy and Randy Stone.

Although Craig and Coleen’s children are young, their son Riley is already planning on being a farmer. He is in the process of raising a heifer calf now, hoping to breed it next year, with expectations of raising beef cattle someday. Their daughter, Payton is an animal lover, who along with her brother, raise alpacas. (She likes the “cuddle” part of raising animals, not so much the work). The kids show the alpacas at the fair, and now have seven of them. Grandma Judy has both spinning wheels and looms using the fiber from the alpacas. Riley made his own rug for the fair this year, using the fiber from the alpacas and the spinning wheels and looms from Grandma’s house. Riley can now drive the grain cart from one part of the field to another, and has been driving the grain cart with his dad next to the combine.
Coleen and Judy help some on the farm, with both having careers of their own (which also takes care of health insurance – Judy has retired). Craig said of his grandma, Eleanor, who has passed away – “All you had to do is call her and she would say, “I’ll be right there!”
Farming approximately 1,600 acres -owned/rented, Stoney Acres grows wheat, soybeans, corn and alfalfa. The alfalfa is sold off of the field to a neighboring farmer, the Van Vliets. Hayden, young at heart, still gets in the semi, taking the dried grains to the elevators and also gets on the tractors, doing most of the tillage in the spring and fall. He doesn’t let the “modern” equipment get in his way, as he seems to be able to figure it out much quicker than farmers in their 40’s – 50’s. Grandson, Craig, talked of how well he can back up a tractor/wagon and also maneuver the semi’s with no trouble.
With three generations working hand-in-hand, and mostly likely the fourth generation in line, Grandpa Hayden is still the one who they go to first with decision-making, as Craig said, “We check with Grandpa first!”

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