About The Author, Melissa Snyder

Rural Youth Makes Life Better – Again!

Recently I had a comment on my blog from a fellow Rural Youther who was celebrating his 48th wedding anniversary.  He was doing some thinking and planning to celebrate the day’s memory and did a Google search on Rural Youth and managed to hit my blog.  We had a few back-n-forth emails and we quickly discovered that he knew my Indiana family and we both discovered what a small world this is.

Having that encounter made me think of my involvement in Rural Youth and how the organization’s activities have directed my life.  It happened yet again recently (even though I’m far from being a youth any more!) when I participated in a half-marathon with my daughter.  I had been running in the rain for about 45 minutes and was nearing the finish line.  My clothing was really weighing me down, making me consider the option of sitting down and crying until the medics showed up.  Then Rural Youth memories took over – the song on my Ipod resurrected me.  It was ‘Little Black Book’.  That was one of my favourite line dances when I was in Rural Youth and when that song came on, a smile broke out on my face and I actually laughed out loud and picked up the pace and crossed the finish line jogging to the tune of ‘Little Black Book’.  Once again I thank Rural Youth for making my life better.

A New Beginning

At this point in my life (September, 2007), I am first and foremost a farmer. I’ll make that a passionate farmer. I am also a Hoosier. A Hoosier is better known as someone who grew up in Indiana.

The State of Indiana

I grew up on a farm in southern Indiana and am the youngest of six redneck children and am commonly referred to as ‘Duck’.

My Parents

The agricultural growing season in southern Indiana is quite a bit longer than here in Ontario, Canada which allowed my parents to be both public school teachers and farmers. My father also was quite active as a real estate broker during his later years of his teaching profession. He encouraged me in the real estate profession as well and I was able to boast about being the youngest real estate broker in the State of Indiana in 1980 at the age of 18. I actually had to wait until my birthday to apply for my license!

As well as being a teacher in the public system, my mother served as a teacher in the house too. She encouraged us to participate in 4-H and was the expert when it came to cooking, canning, sewing and crafts. Martha Stewart didn’t hold a candle against Mom when it came to decorating and being frugal. Who knew one could make so many different items from empty toilet paper rolls, yarn and glue?

My parents have both retired from teaching but I continue to remain their student. I’m sure they wish that they could still send me to the principal’s office from time to time.

Tuff Creek Farm

The farm where I grew up is called Tuff Creek Farm. For many years, Tuff Creek Farm consisted of a ‘U-Pick’ strawberry patch, a small greenhouse for our own tomato plants, many acres of irrigated tomatoes and many acres of sweet corn and field corn. Tuff Creek Farm also operated a fresh fuit and vegetable market called ‘The Covered Wagon Market’. The market was located in Shelbyville, Indiana and touted a red and white striped canvas Conestoga covered wagon as its trademark. Nestled beside the wagon was a mini hip-roofed barn where the refreigerated fare of the market was housed. I started working at the market at the ripe age of eight and my only sister became my slave master and teacher each and every summer for the next six years. The experience that I gained during this time was invaluable and gave a whole new meaning to the definition of sisterly love. With no running water, no toilet or porta-potty and no phone, I sometimes wondered if people thought this business was some type of rehabilitation/correctional operation for juvenile delinquents. If the sales for the day had been good, I might get paid $5.00 for the whole day (9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.) and get treated to an ice cream cone from our favourite watering hole, “The Cow Palace”. If the sales hadn’t been good, it was simply a long and quiet 30-minute drive home in the flambuoyant ‘Covered Wagon Market’ pick-up truck.

The Cement Pond

Through the proceeds of the strawberry patch, my father was ‘convinced’ (lean heavy on the ‘con’) by his six angelic children to build an in-ground cement pond – better known as a swimming pool. The cement pond became our equivalent to an annual family vacation. I was six years old at the time that the pool was built and my oldest brother, Dave was 17 years old. Dave took swimming lessons hoping that all of his redneck siblings would be properly impressed with his honed swimming talents. As we all anxiously watched and waited as the local volunteer fire department brought tanker truck after tanker truck full of water to the pool, Dave prepared himself for the inaugural dive from the diving board to demonstrate his new-found skills. With shoulders back and head held high, Brother Dave began his running approach from the far end of the board and entered the surface of the smooth water with a cannonball like no other. He proceeded back up to the rippling suface with arms flailing and continued to bob up and down in the water, spewing and spitting and gasping for air until my mother finally realized that Dave was drowning! Since none of the rest of the family observers could swim, (because we were waiting fro Brother Dave to teach us!) my mother quickly extended a nearby pole to Dave who grabbed it for dear life, literally. Needless to say that the rest of my siblings taught themselves to swim and we are able to boast no drownings thus far at Tuff Creek Farm.

High School Years

During my teenage years, I attended a small rural high school in Hope, Indiana called Hauser High School. It was during these years that I underwent spinal fusion surgery for a severe case of scoliosis. The surgery required me to be bedfast for six months and I wore a body cast for an additional six months. I have complications as a result of this surgery and tend to walk differently from any other human being. I think differently than most humans as well but have not yet been able to blame that on the surgery! Lessons learned through this experience include patience, bedpan acumen and an improved sense of humour.

Love Found in Indiana Rural Youth/Junior Farmers

Many Indiana young farmers participated in a post-4-H organization known as Rural Youth. During my years in Rural Youth, I participated in an exchange program that was shared with Waterloo County, Ontario Junior Farmers. The exchange consisted of young Indiana farmers being billeted out to homes/families of Waterloo County Junior Farmers. The program was to allow for participants to compare agricultural practices, cultures, beliefs/values, etc. While on the exchange program, I met a drop-dead farmer gorgeous young man who seemed to show a more than casual interest in me, but I was young and a free spirit and certainly wasn’t looking to settle down with a farmer, let alone a farmer who lived in Canada. I finished my undergraduate studies and was living on my own when the time came for the Rural Youth/Junior Farmer exchange that was to be hosted by the Hoosiers. That same drop-dead gorgeous Canadian farmer came down for the exchange and all of the planets must have been aligned and the timing and attraction perfect because less than a year later, I was married to that drop-dead gorgeous Canadian farmer and living in the Great White North.

Entrepreneurial Endeavours

Just before I got married, my father approached my siblings and me about the possibility of forming a family corporation. The corporation would involve the pooling of resources and talents to buy and sell real estate and hopefully make a profit. All parties seemed to be interested and so throughout the next two decades, the family corporation bought real estate in Indiana and Florida. Some of the purchases that were made would hardly be categorized as ‘prime’. Some would more likely be called ‘dumps’ but my father always said that someone else’s mess looked like an opportunity to him and so it was with our purchases. Often my siblings and I would think that Dad found us more opportunity than we could handle. Cleanup of the properties often involved hard work but also provided chances for the family members to work together toward a common goal. As might be expected, there were disagreements from time to time but ultimately the corporation provided a venue that caused relations to be strengthened beyond a normal family unit. The final project of the corporation was the purchase of a 60 acre pasture that was turned into a nine hole golf course. Since that opening, the surrounding land around the golf course has been purchased by family members. These purchases provide an opportunity for a future expansion of the golf course and also has provided several residential building lots that are currently for sale. Some photos of the golf course can be seen at cliftycreekrealestate.com

Since my arrival in Canada, I have carried on that entrepreneurial spirit with the owning and operation of two giftware/home decor stores. The first store is Conestogo Mercantile. My business partner and I owned this store from 1996 to 2002. The store is still in existence but is now owned by Dan and Veronica Stawski. The second store is located at Stonehaven Farm Greenhouse in Elmira, Ontario. I owned that operation for four years before selling and turning over the reins to the greenhouse operators.

I most recently ‘retired’ from my position of Chief Financial Officer at Grand River Raceway. As well as my financial interests, I recently closed the ‘Snyder School of Higher Learning’, the home-school for my two children, now attending university. Read more about that on the Family page of this blog.


9 responses to “About The Author, Melissa Snyder

  1. Angela

    Hello, I aquired an Indiana Rural Youth charm from somewhere and in searching about it came across your site. Although I have grown up in Indiana, I had no idea what the group was, and only know little about it now from reading your blog.
    Would you have anyone I could contact that may be interested in this charm? There is no year marked on the charm, but it’s in great shape. I am just looking for someone that may want it that never got one or has lost theirs. If you have any suggestions for me please contact me at the address I gave.
    Thanks in advance and I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

  2. Hi Melissa,

    I am a teacher in Greenfield, IN.

    Would you consider selling on contract your 21 acre farm ground in Greensburg, IN?


    Ron Stryzinski

    • hoosierincanada

      Mr. Stryzinski,

      I apologize for the delay in response. I have neglected my blog for far too long.
      Currently, the farm that I co-own with my brothers in Decatur County is listed with
      Infinity Realty in Greensburg. I believe the agent’s name is Ruth Ann. Hope this helps

      Melissa Snyder

  3. Francis Robinson

    Hi there:
    I met my wife through Indiana Rural Youth. I have always lived in Shelby County IN and she was from Fayette County. Today (6-9-2011) is our 48th wedding anniversary… We met at a RY meeting in Rush County.
    I am a lifetime farmer and we owned and operated a store for over 20 years. We retired from it in 1995 and we retired from grain farming several years ago. Today we keep 5 horses and rent private pasture lots to about a dozen client horses. We have 4 grown kids, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
    I was surfing around looking at RY stuff in honor of today. Tonight will likely include dinner at the Sirloin-Stockade at Columbus. Small world, huh… 🙂

    • hoosierincanada

      It truly is a small world! Congratulations on your anniversary celebration. My farmer husband and I will celebrate 26 years soon – can only hope that we’ll be able to celebrate 48 years in the future. Enjoy your dinner in Columbus tonight – good choice. I go there with my Indiana family when I’m back in Bartholomew County. And thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog.

      Melissa Thayer Snyder

      • Francis Robinson

        I guess the world is even smaller than I thought. I just noticed the name Thayer… I took classes at Hope for a real estate sales license, passed the test, and followed it right away with the Brokers license classes and test. I held the license for a while but decided that it was not the direction I wanted to go but I really enjoyed the experience and the knowledge gained. I also became friends with Dave Thayer and Joyce Thayer-Morris and her then husband. Great folks. I have lost touch in recent years but see that Joyce has a law office in Columbus. I gather that you are part of their family 🙂

      • hoosierincanada

        Yes, it just keeps getting smaller. Dave Thayer is my father – still living in Hope. My Mom (Dave’s wife) just passed away in February and Dad insisted on being Mon’s primary caregiver. As frustrating as that was some days, I have to admire Dad’s devotion to my Mom. Joyce is my older sister and yes, she has a law practice in Columbus. She divorced a long time ago and has remarried and is looking forward to retiring sometime in the near future. She owned and operated the real estate school for many years but no longer has them. She does teach weekend seminars from time to time on landlording, contracts, etc. She is the best big sister I could ever have. Thanks for your kind words about them. Being in Canada, I miss them very much. Have a great evening!

  4. Sarah (DeBusk) Caron

    Awesome! I am from Hartsville, IN and now living in Ottawa. Although not raised in agriculture, I work in it now, which is how I found your blog. I love meeting other Americans in Canada…let alone Hoosiers.

    • hoosierincanada

      Hey Sarah,

      Just read your comment – proves we truly live in a small world, eh? I recognize the ‘DeBusk’ name and wonder if we ever crossed paths during our ‘growing up’ years. Also should mention that my husband and I have just purchased a property near Ottawa – just outside Merrickville. Maybe we’ll cross paths in Canada sometime soon?

      Thanks for reading and thanks for the comment.

      Melissa Thayer Snyder

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