The cows are relaxing in the sunshine by the barn and there are a few deer browsing down in the draw, out of the wind. Brother and sister, Willis Curdy and Mary Rodriguez are quiet for a moment, gazing across the fields of their family farm in Corvallis.

Mary and brother Willis, grew up farming with their parents Frances and Everett Curdy. There was always something to grow, tend, and prepare for market.

Over the decades, the family has seen its share of good times, hard times, and lots of honest work. Like many farms and ranches in the Bitterroot Valley, over time, it gets harder to continue working the land.

Overlooking field - Bitter Root Land Trust Success Stories

Years ago, mom and daughter ran quite the chicken egg operation, supplying markets, police and fire stations all over the Bitterroot and into Missoula. Mary recalls, “We’d load the eggs the night before, then drive all over hill and dale the next day, delivering about 1,500 eggs. It’s crazy to think we fit all those eggs in that old Dodge Dart station wagon.”

A Family Decision

Many years later, family discussions centered around the future of the farm. Who would work the farm? What will happen to the land when we’re gone? Frances and Everett knew they wanted it to always remain a farm. They knew it should be here for the next generation to work the land. Mary and Willis carried out the family decision to conserve the farm with the land trust.

“We did this for them, saw it through to the end. It’s something we know they wanted. And now, the farm will be here for someone else to farm In the future. That’s the reason for doing it.”
– Mary Rodriguez

Families don’t take these decisions lightly, and often it takes years to go through the conservation easement process. It starts with those early conversations, all the way up to the day it’s complete.

Mary clears her throat, “When my neighbors tell me, ‘I’m happy that you kept the land a farm,’ that means everything to me. My parents worked so hard for that land. And someday a new family will build their life on this farm.”