Engineer returns to farm for sake of family

Photo courtesy Stanford Jensen
Stanford and Kristi Jensen pose with their children. From left are Samantha, Nickolus, Sophia and John Jensen

CENTERFIELD—About seven years ago, Stanford and Kristi Jensen’s love for their daughter Samantha prompted them to dive head first into a new lifestyle.

In his previous career as an engineer, Stanford, who is the son of Norman and Eliza Jensen of Centerfield, often had to spend a week at a time on business trips. His daughter Samatha, now 9, was a toddler at the time.

Not wanting to miss Samantha’s childhood, and with Kristi’s support, he quit his job and returned to Jensen Lane and a farm that had been started by his grandfather.

In his former job, Stanford couldn’t take Samantha to work with him in his former job. “Computers and kids don’t mix,” Stanford said.

But now, “it’s normal to have one of my children with me playing wingman,” Stanford wrote.

Stanford Jensen works on his farm with his children (from left) Samantha, Sophia, Nickolus and John Jensen.

Stanford and Kristi have three other children, John, 7; Sophia, 5; and Nickolus, 2.

Today, Samantha says, “I enjoy spending time with him more. I can ride my bike to him more.”

Samantha, who has her own business selling eggs, also likes being able to run outside without having to ask.

Kristi said her son John gets to help Stanford with the machines like tractors.

And sometimes when he’s cutting hay, she said, all the kids will pile up in the swather. (A swather is a machine that has large rotating blades, sort of like a giant lawn mower.)

Stanford said during college and as he pursued his career, he “never really considered” returning to the farm.

“I considered that we would live in a small town,” he said. He got his engineering degree at Southern Utah University and figured he would be able to work in a small town and still be an engineer.

He met Kristi at SUU, where she was rooming with Stanford’s old girlfriend. The former girlfriend arranged for them to get together

The Jensens settled in Price, where Stanford worked for Love-Less Ash Company for five years. “We were making good money,” he said. He had health insurance and a retirement plans. “We didn’t have any complaints.”

Stanford said that he enjoyed going to Las Vegas, Denver, California (a few times), Nashville, Ohio, Brazil and China, and sometimes he was permitted to take his children with him. “We traveled a lot,” Kristi said.

But sometimes, Stanford didn’t have his family with him.

Kristi said that now, Stanford is more “a part of their lives” and that the children can “learn alongside him.”

When Stanford was working 9 to 5, he could help Kristi with dinner and evening tasks. Now Kristi must do more herself because Stanford is often working at night. She does see quite a bit of him in the winter.

Stanford Jensen in his swather with his children (from left) Samantha, Sophia, Nickolus and John Jensen.

“And I guess for me, sometimes an air-conditioned office has its perks,” Stanford said. “This time of year, a 16-hour day sounds like a reasonable day.” In fact, during harvests, Stanford sleeps only four hours a night.

“I look forward to Sundays,” Kristi said. “That is when I have him around.”

Right now, the family is living in his parents house while Norman and Eliza Jensen are serving a mission in Kenya.

Stanford’s grandfather built the first house on the Jensen Lane property. His dad built the next house. Now, Stanford is building the third house, right next to the house where he grew up. The house will be designed to conserve energy, he said.

Stanford said the only thing he asked for when his grandfather died was receipts from his grandfather buying his first tractors. Today, he has those receipts.

With taking on farming has come new worries. Stanford and Kristi are worried about what could be the worst drought on record this summer, with half as much water available as during the previous worse drought on record.

Stanford and Kristi have decided to “transition farm.” The farm hadn’t had animals on it for nearly three decades, Stanford said. The couple decided to do direct-to-consumer sales of grass-fed beef and chickens as part of their business, SunnySide Up Pastures.

“We have meat available right now, and we have pastured chicken right now,” Kristi said. “They don’t have any chemicals put in them.”

“This transition has helped us to use less … equipment on the farm,” Stanford said. “And to bring more life and health to the soil…,” Kristi said.

After going to a soil health workshop, Stanford learned that “soil is alive.” It meant that he needed to change his farming practices.

“No big deal, right?” Stanford wrote. “Ever considered changing religion? I felt a little like that, excited and scared.

“These days, my children roam the farm with me discussing soil health, then stopping to look at the soil and discuss the life in it,” he said.