At 100, Virginia farmer Norman Mason still enjoys getting out in the field and making decisions of how to manage his 200 acres of corn, soybeans and wheat.
Norman turns 100 today, and as he puts it: “I’ve enjoyed my life in farming.”
Norman has farmed since he was 18, taught by his grandfather who farmed not far from where Norman farms today in Onancock, Virginia, on the Eastern Shore.
The local USDA service center threw Norman Mason a birthday celebration today to honor the long-time farmer.
Back then, he grew potatoes and raised chickens, which proved lucrative. “I made enough money to buy an automobile,” he said.
Norman bought his first tractor in 1942. And three years later, he married Sue Boggs, who turned 95 just a few days ago. This year, they’re celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary. They had two children – David and Sarah Beth, who were both raised on the farm.
David, lives around the corner from Norman and helps him on the farm. Norman says it’s this kind of teamwork that makes him and his operation stronger.
“I planted my first garden with my dad when I was 9, and I’ve been farming ever since,” David said. “Guess it’s in my blood, too.”
Norman has continued to grow and expand his farm over the years. Just last year, Mason purchased the farm land next to his that was owned by his grandfather’s sister.
Mason took up farming, and still farms today because “farming is in my blood,” he said. He notes that farming was in his grandfather’s blood and is his son’s blood too. “I’ve just loved to see the crops grow and see them come to harvest,” Mason said.
Norman is a long-time member of the Farm Bureau, and he has worked closely with USDA over the years to help his farm thrive. Most recently, he participates in USDA’s Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs as well as crop insurance. These programs help Norman manage risk, in the event of natural disasters and ups and downs in the market.
Over the past 35 years, Norman has come to know his local USDA staff so well, they’re even throwing him a birthday celebration today to honor the long-time farmer. Today, they’ll have cake and balloons to celebrate this milestone in his life.
“Mr. Mason is a remarkable man of character and wisdom,” said H.L. Kellam, Jr., FSA county executive director. “The FSA office employees have learned a lot about a bygone era of farming on the Eastern Shore and enjoy all of Mr. Mason’s amazing and detailed stories.”
From USDA, happy birthday Norman!