ROYAL CITY — Rick and Cindy Carter came from agricultural backgrounds. Both grew up learning the first-hand ropes of farming.
Nowadays, they continue to enjoy life on the farm with their family, and recently reminisced about how it all began.
Rick was born in Anacortes, Wash. His family then moved to a 40 acre ranch/farm in Sedro Woolley.
“I can always remember that farm,” said Rick. His mother, Beverly, had a goose that she loved, but he hated it because it would chase him, he recalled. His father Richard grew up and in North Dakota and worked in the oil industry for years.
From there, Rick and his family moved to an 80-acre farm in Day Valley, Calif. where Richard raised race horses, at least one of which went on to become a champion. The family also raised cows.
“My mom and I milked cows,” said Rick.
Then in 1973, the family moved to Royal City after a family friend, Leroy Weber, convinced Richard to purchase property. Rick was just 13 years old and in the seventh grade at that time.
Leroy also originally farmed that same land that Rick and Cindy now own and operate.
As for Cindy, she too grew up on a farm, and was born and raised in Royal City. Her parents, Dean and Nancy Callahan, had grass fields and turf along Highway 26.
As a kid, Cindy, along with her siblings, would help change hand lines and spray for weeds.
“I always enjoyed growing up on a farm,” said Cindy.
Rick and Cindy met through mutual friends, and were married in January of 1986.
Rick had been farming on his own for some time before they married, starting with cattle. Shortly after marriage, Rick and Cindy incorporated and Carter & Carter Farms was up and running.
Their first daughter, Rikki, was born later that year, and soon after they welcomed their son, Luke, in 1989, and daughter, Kally, in 1992.
Tending to the farm was a family affair, Cindy explained. They would all go out and change water together.
“We had a lot of opportunity for family togetherness,” said Luke.
He and Rikki would also help out by spraying the whole farm for weeds.
Rikki and Luke would often fall asleep in the back window of family's red tractor during baling, Cindy recalled.
Kally particularly enjoyed helping with the cherries they grew.
“The cherries were always the most interesting,” said Kally. “I knew the perfect angle to nudge the bales to pick up the strings in the Cavalier.”
Kally explained that working on the farm provided her the motivation to always work hard.
“It gave me that work ethic I have now,” said Kally.
The kids all participated in 4H growing up, and Luke also did FFA. They showed cows and pigs.
Luke's love for working with cattle began as early as 5 years old when his grandpa Dean gave him a replacement heifer named Norma for his birthday. Later on, Luke took Norma to auction with the intent of buying roller blades with the sale money. But instead, he found himself with a case of auction fever and ended up buying four more cows to replace the one he had sold.
From there the Carters raised about 60 head of cattle before deciding to sell them in 2006.
PASSING THE REINS
In 2011, Luke was drawn for a Native Mint Base, giving him the papers needed to sell mint to market. He now owns and operates Luke Carter Farms.
Luke also runs and manages work crews, and he and his wife, Katrina, also help with all of the technology Rick explained.
“I passed the reins,” said Rick.
The Carter family these days stays busy farming cherries, apples, wheat, beans, mint, hay and timothy.
During their busiest times, it is all hands on deck to get the work done. Other family members and friends also pitch in to help out often.
“It takes a whole family and then some,” said Luke. “There's a lot of people who show up to help us.”
As for Rick and Cindy, growing up with agricultural backgrounds and, in turn, being able to raise their children on a farm has been a rewarding experience.
“If I had it to do over,” said Cindy. “I'd still pick a farm to raise kids on.”