A family affair

Sadie Yarber carries a portion of fence knocked down by a storm on her family farm in Harrison County. Lori, a 2-month-old border collie used for herding cattle, walks behind her. Her family has farmed here since the 1800s. The work has changed as the agriculture industry shifts, but they've adapted.

As the sun rises and light hits the hills of the Switzer family farm, its inhabitants happily sleep.

“I don’t believe in waking up at the crack of dawn," Buddy Switzer says. "I enjoy my sleep.” 

Buddy and his wife, Kim, bring that sense of ease to the family business, which includes their two adult children and a granddaughter. The farm, which has been in the family since the 1800s and kept them close, has evolved over the years.

As the tobacco market fell, farmers in Kentucky have had to try new things. They profited when tobacco was king. But it isn't that way any longer, and many businesses haven't survived the change. It hit the town of Cynthiana hard. 

“Many farmers sold off land and only have 10 acres and have to work factory jobs,” Kim says. "For me losing tobacco was a mixed blessing. It fed into something I don't believe is good."

The Switzer family farm was always diverse. They have cattle, horses, hay, alfalfa, and surprisingly, firewood, which they've sold for 30 years to local businesses and restaurants for cooking meat. 

"My father in Ohio sold wood, and we started to serve his Southern Ohio clients then got one in Lexington," Kim says. "It took off from there."

Kim and Buddy designed family life to spend as much time together as possible as their kids grew up.

"We wanted to be the biggest influence in their lives, their character, beliefs and their discipline." Kim says. "From that grew our desire to create traditions that will always be a part of who we are as a family."

Now adults with families of their own, the Switzer children continue to be involved in the farm. It's what they know and where they want to be. Cody Switzer has two college degrees from the University of Kentucky in equine management and agronomics. 

Sadie Yarber, their daughter, raises cattle on a nearby farm in Harrison County.

"If I have any say in what she does I want her to continue the family business," Sadie says of her daughter, 3 months. If Gentry Yarber grows up with the same passion, it'll keep the operation going for a sixth generation.

Buddy Switzer, the family patriarch, drops hay to feed his cattle in the morning on his family farm in Cynthiana.
After herding a group of cattle for the morning count, Lori sits ready for the next command. The Switzers kept their kids close growing up. The time together and work on the farm instilled a passion for the family business that's drawn in Sadie's husband, Josh Yarber.
After preparing a load of wood to be dropped off to clients in Louisville, Buddy Switzer walks across the dirt road on his family farm in Cynthiana. The Switzers sell firewood to restaurants around the state of Kentucky. It's one of the farm's biggest streams of revenue. They also raise cattle, train horses, and grow alfafa and hay.
Buddy and his wife, Kim Switzer, reminisce about the past in a horse barn. They designed family life to spend as much time together as possible as their kids grew up. "We wanted to be the biggest influence in their lives, their character, beliefs and their discipline." Kim says. "From that grew our desire to create traditions that will always be a part of who we are as a family."
A horse peers out of one of the stalls at a barn in Lexington where the Switzers train horses.
Karla June Switzer vies in quarter-horse competitions and trains horses for her business. She recently married the Switzers' son Cody.
The Switzer family hangs out in the kitchen of their farmhouse in Cynthiana. They meet here in the mornings to discuss what needs to be done on the farm. When it rains, they linger inside over coffee.
Buddy Switzer counts his cattle at one of his Harrison County farms where the cows graze. It was a cold fall day and he wanted to make sure his cattle were secured and accounted for.
Buddy Switzer walks around the back of his ATV, where one of his dogs sits.