GRATIOT – The Lafayette County Dairy Breakfast will be held at the home of Denny and Mary Shippy on the Roper Shippy Farms at 12348 White School Road, Gratiot, on June 10 from 6:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m.
Denny and Mary Shippy both began their lives on farms. Denny grew up in Rock City and Dakota, Illinois on a dairy farm. But with his four older brothers, there wasn’t much for him to do on the farm. So he left and began working in Springfield and Freeport, Ill. in 1964 until 1980.
He met Mary through a work friend and his wife, Larry and Debbie Winter. Debbie grew up near Mary’s family farm, the Roper Farm. Mary’s grandparents, John and Carrie Roper started the farm in 1898. They began it with about 20 cows, 20 sows to farrow and about 160 acres of cropland. Mary’s parents, Earl and Lois Roper took over the farm in 1947 after they got married and her grandparents moved to Apple River, Ill.
“We are so grateful to my parents and grandparents for the opportunity to have this farm. Without them we wouldn’t be here,” Mary mentioned.
Mary grew up on the farm with her two sisters, Carol and Marlene and was taught a good work ethic.
“We were taught to do our chores before we went to school and to get our nice clothes changed and get out there after school,” Mary joked.
“The farm is the best place in the world to raise a child,” Denny added.
Their children have all grown up and moved off the farm. Denny has two sons, Scott and Steve and Denny and Mary have a daughter, Carrie. They are very thankful for their family.
Since taking over the farm from Mary’s parents in 1980 after they were married they had 90 head of cattle, which they milked in their 64 cattle stanchion barn and pigs, which at one time they had close to 500. They sold the livestock in 2003.
“The hardest part about farming is the weather. It is always a challenge. It’s a gamble so you don’t even have to go to the boat,” Denny joked.
They still have roughly 550 acres of cropland with corn and beans, but recently began renting it out. About three years ago, Denny was diagnosed with Stage 4 Renal Cell Carcinoma, a common type of kidney cancer, which has metastasized to his bones and is now in his pancreas. He has been through six surgeries, 41 radiation treatments and chemo, and now chemo infusions.
“It has been rough. He hasn’t been able to do much with a metal rod in his arm and leg,” Mary explained.
But hasn’t seemed to get him down. He still thinks about his farm and if he had the chance to do it over again, he would in a heartbeat.
“It’s in your blood,” Denny stated.
They always did want to have the Dairy Breakfast on their farm. When someone mentioned to their daughter that they should have it, it was an opportunity they couldn’t turn down.
“We thought it was time to go through with it. I respect the people that have animals and do the breakfast and get everything done with their chores,” Mary mentioned.
They have been getting things ready for the past year and can’t wait to welcome everyone to their farm. They are thankful to the Lafayette County Dairy Promotion Board and all the people that are there to make the day possible.