By Sally Voth
This week is all about farmers and farming. Tuesday is National Ag Day, and the commonwealth is celebrating Virginia Agriculture Week and Agriculture Literacy Week through Sunday.
Farming is a year-round commitment for Randy Kibler, who owns Kibler Farms. He raises about 400 Angus brood cows on his 225-acre main farm, and another 1,800 acres of leased land.
Kibler, 49, has had the operation about 17 years, but cattle raising goes back to his boyhood.
"When I was 6 years old, I had my own cattle," he said. "It was on a small scale."
That was on Kibler's grandfather's farm.
"Just like anything else, where there's a will, there's a way," Kibler said about making a living out of farming. "I wouldn't discourage young people from going into it. Certainly, there have to be factors and things put in place to be successful at it. You can't just decide one day this is what I'm going to do."
He stressed perseverance could overcome lack of experience, but in his case, farming was in his blood.
"I've been involved in cattle all of my life," Kibler said. "When I was a little kid, that's what I wanted to do."
His wife and three children, ages 7-16, also help out around the farm.
"[The children] help feed sometimes," Kibler said. "Of course, they have their own cattle that they [raise] through 4-H."
And, while he said he's not pushing them into following in his agriculture footsteps, Kibler said his kids have all expressed interest in agricultural careers.
In contrast to Kibler's long history in farming, Tony Tringale is new to agriculture, but embracing is it whole-heartedly.
The 70-year-old semi-retired insurance professional runs Tony T's Apple Farm & Kitchen in Front Royal.
"I have 200 apple trees," the affable farmer said. "I'm organic."
He became a farmer and baker "exclusively and strictly" on accident.
"I was thinking of semi-retiring, and I wanted to stay relatively close to Washington," Tringale said.
He saw a newspaper with country property listings at a Metro stop.
"I picked it up, and they had just listed the property that I now own," Tringale said.
He'd been doing business in Front Royal for many years already when he bought a 5-acre lot that used to be part of Harmony Hollow Orchard.
Tringale sells his products at the Front Royal farmers market and flea market, and at a farmers market in The Plains.
In addition to selling apples, he sells honey made by his own bees, apple cider he hand-presses himself, and baked goods. Tringale's apple dumplings come from Granny Smith apples he gets from another source, but he also makes orange walnut cake and two varieties of gluten-free mini cupcakes.
"During market season, I'm baking 15 hours a week to prepare," Tringale said.
While baking is new to him, "I've always been an eater," he said.
"My mother -- may she rest in peace -- was a good cook and a baker, so I picked up a lot of stuff from her," Tringale said. "I love eating and you've got to bake to be able to eat.
"I just had the trees trimmed. It's an expensive proposition, but I enjoy it."
Tringale admits he doesn't make much money when he factors in all the time he spends baking, but enjoys the resultant socializing.
"We have a lovely town here," he said. "You get to meet people and visitors come in from all over the world and talk and chat."
Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org