Ambitious, hardworking and passionate about agriculture are just three ways one could describe Justin Horton. The high school senior works on several Bloomer area farms in addition to his high school work, something his mom, Lisa Horton, said is hard to find in a teenager these days.
“This young man is outstanding. He works for four different farms in the Bloomer/Chippewa Falls area seven days a week and attends high school,” Lisa said. “Farming is not given the credit it deserves, and this young man lives, breathes and works hard at making sure it is all done right.”
Justin’s interest in farming started when he was little and would spend time on his grandparents’ farm.
“My grandfather was a farmer, and I loved listening to his stories,” he said. Eventually, listening to those stories transitioned into helping a neighbor on their farm.
“Several years ago, a neighbor of my grandparents’ was looking for someone to milk cows, and that is where I started,” Justin said. “Then I went to my friend’s uncle’s house and started doing field work, and that is where I started really enjoying life on the farm.”
Today, Justin works on several farms, including Steve and Karl Wall’s farm and Fashingbauer Farms, filling numerous roles in the day-to-day farming operations.
“At Wall’s, I milk cows seven days a week and I also help with the fieldwork and harvesting. At Fashingbauer Farms, I haul corn and assist with planting, harvesting and working on fixing equipment,” he said.
Karl Wall said he has really seen Justin grow in his abilities and love for agriculture in the few short years he has worked there.
“Justin started working with us in March 2017. At the time, he was 15 years old and had to get a ride to and from work,” Wall said. “Having the ambition that he does, he was always on time and ready to work.
“Justin has a great work ethic. He is full time in high school and gets up three mornings per week to help with chores before school. On the days he doesn’t work before school, he helps with afternoon chores. In the year and a half that he has been working with us, (Justin) has rarely taken a day off.”
With past experience working with animals and farm equipment, Justin quickly picked up on the farm’s milking procedures, calf feeding routine, bedding animals and other chores.
“There really isn’t a job on the farm that he isn’t capable of performing,” Wall said. “When he sees something that needs to be done, he takes care of it without being asked, which is very helpful.
“He is very observant and keeps a close eye on the animals as they are eating or when he is milking and detects when we have one that is sick so we can promptly deal with it.”
In addition to being a quick learner, Wall said, it has been nice having Justin around to do evening chores during the busier fall and spring seasons, allowing the Walls to keep working in the fields. He said Justin also took the initiative to learn how to drive semi so that he could haul grain.
“He is very cautious but very capable when running equipment, which has been a great asset, not having to worry about things getting damaged and reduced down time,” Wall said.
Lisa said ever since Justin was little, he was always on the go, so it only makes sense that he continues to keep busy.
“Justin is very loyal to the farmers that he works for, he is always there for them, even in the spur of the moment,” she said. “I grew up on a farm and it melts my heart to see the passion that he has for the farm.”
Justin said working on the farms is a lot of work but something that is very rewarding.
“I love working on and fixing machinery and all the equipment on the farm. I love operating all of the equipment such as the semi, tractors, combines anything equipment that I am asked to operate,” he said.
Besides working with mechanics, Justin also has a soft spot for a red Angus named Dolly, who he rescued shortly after birth.
“Justin and Jordan (Faschingbauer) brought it into the shed and kept her there for several weeks,” Lisa said. “She was bottle-fed and she is now a pet. She will follow them around the farm just like a puppy. She is now approximately 600 pounds.”
Justin said he sees a lot of the challenges smaller farmers are facing with low crop and milk prices. He said although Wisconsin has always been a big farming state, he doesn’t see that being the case anymore with all the struggles farmers face in making a go of it. Despite those challenges, Justin still dreams of owning a farm of his own someday.
“I am planning on attending a technical college for ag business and diesel mechanic. My heart is in farming, I enjoy being outside, in a tractor, combine or anything to do with the farm,” Justin said.
Wall said he hopes that Justin will be able to pursue his passion for agriculture and reach his dreams.
“With his ability and work ethic, there isn’t anything (Justin) couldn’t do if he chose to. It has been a pleasure to work with him and I hope we get to continue working together in the future,” Wall said.
Jordan Faschingbauer echoed many of Wall’s comments of working with Justin, saying his work ethic is amazing and he is able to pick up pretty much any job they throw at him. He said it has been great working with Justin over the years.
“Justin thinks the same way that I do, and to be able to work alongside someone that shares the same passion in farming is awesome,” Faschingbauer said. “We both can have our worst day on the farm, but we can’t wait until tomorrow comes to be back on the farm. When you love what you do as much as he does, it doesn’t feel like work.”