it's a family thing
Eck Agriculture is a fourth-generation family farm currently managed by Darrin Eck, with help from his partner, Elizabeth Covington, DVM, and his three children, Peyton, Nathan, and Sophia. The operation includes a chemical and fertilizer business; a crop rotation of wheat, milo, cotton, and alfalfa; and a 600 head cattle herd. We are proud to be a family-run business, focused on progressive ideas and giving back to our community.
Our farm's story starts at a barn dance in south central Kansas. John Peter Eck, originally from New Trier, Minnesota took his soon-to-be-bride, Mary Helen Reichenberger of Doniphan County, Kansas, to the dance as their first date. They were later married in 1911 and spent the first years of their marriage farming near St. Joe in Reno County. The young couple eventually settled in the St. Leo community in 1922. There, they farmed wheat, owned cattle, and raised six children in a small three-bedroom home. Their youngest son, Calvin George, was born on the Eck farm in 1924.
Calvin grew up working the farm with his father, and following his marriage to Priscilla Mae Petz, at the St. Leo Catholic Church in 1947, returned to the very farm where he was born. Calvin and Priscilla continued to raise wheat, cattle, and silage feed. In letters Priscilla wrote before her death, she speaks of their family as their “life,” as they coached ball teams, followed music and scholastic contests, and attended school fields trips for their five boys and six girls.
In 1961, Calvin and Priscilla purchased a two-story home for $863 from the Cheney Reservoir; the house had to be moved to allow for the construction of Cheney Lake. This is the house you can see on the homeplace today.
Day to day operations on the farm were a family affair, with all eleven children assisting their parents. As some of the children aged and moved away from the farm for other forms of work or to start families of their own, Calvin and Priscilla’s sixth child, Clint, knew he was destined for a life in agriculture.
Clint met his future wife, Patti Henning, at a farm sale and they married in 1977. At the time, Clint was farming land south of Kingman, but he soon found his niche in grinding hay. In 1978, Clint and Patti started Hay Grinderman with a single stationary grinder. Patti would park the pickup and grinder at the customer’s farm, while Clint loaded bales with a tractor. As the grinding business grew, Clint engineered a single unit grinder. By the early 90s, Clint and Patti were able to purchase their first commercial grinder. Patti remembers Clint constantly working on the machine and making modifications.
Clint and Patti raised three boys: Jay, Darrin, and Ethan. Patti says the boys inherited Clint’s brain for tinkering and engineering. Ethan has carried that spirit into his own business, Eck Fabrication. His Chem-Blade allows farmers to handle chemicals more safely and efficiently and is used by Darrin on the operation currently. Jay believes the work ethic, entrepreneurial spirit, and problem-solving abilities imparted to him on the farm have advanced his career. He is currently the Head of Digital Messaging at the Automobile Club of Southern California. Darrin, Patti says, was simply born to farm.
Darrin went everywhere with Clint as a young boy, learning the ins and outs of farming, and at times, even refusing to get out of the tractor after a long day’s work. In 2003, he joined the farm as a partner, and with the purchase of new land, the Ecks expanded the farm into Harper County. Darrin worked alongside his best friend and mentor until Clint’s passing in 2014.
Since partnering with his dad in 2003, Darrin’s progressive ideas have allowed for the opening of new revenue streams not available to traditional wheat farms. He has expanded the farm into multiple counties, diversified the crop rotation, introduced hay, and converted ground to no-till to improve overall soil health.
You will likely recognize a large “E” when you first look at our brand, but if you look closely, you should notice a backwards “C” to the left of the vertical line. This “C” pays tribute to Darrin’s father, Clint, and his grandfather, Calvin. Both men were instrumental in building and shaping Eck Agriculture into the operation you see today.
Darrin's childhood interest in watching things grow carries into the day-to-day operations on the farm. He prefers to oversee all aspects of growing crops and raising cattle so that the best product possible is provided to the consumer. It’s a rewarding feeling to know that Eck Agriculture plays a small role in providing food, clothing, and important by-products for the world.
Like generations prior, Darrin continues to operate the farm as a family affair. Peyton, Nathan, and Sophia can be found out on the farm spending quality time with their dad as they help with daily chores, scout crops, and ride alongside Darrin in machinery.
Beth Covington, DVM, can most commonly be found working with our cattle across Kingman and Harper counties on her "days off" from her "regular" job at Skaer Veterinary Clinic. Being responsible for herd health practices, Beth works tirelessly to guarantee a good quality of life for our animals. Depending on the season, Beth is checking cattle out on pasture, performing chute work, tagging newborn calves, or handling the occasional calving emergency or sick animal treatment. Whether you're needing cow/calf pairs and bred heifers to help build your herd or diversify herd genetics, or you're interested in the highest quality beef to feed your family, Beth can provide you with all the records on each animal. More than that, she can share about the life they've had on our ground, most through every life stage, as she's cared for each and every one.
When she's not with the animals, she's helping Peyton, Nathan, and Sophia with about anything they can manage to throw her way! Last, but not least, she is a master chef who enjoys cooking a wide range of tasty delicacies (with Eck beef, of course).