Artie Terry and Nancy Brule not only balance their careers but also a 40 acre hobby farm, 60 miles north of Bethel.
by Kelly Hinseth
At the crack of dawn on a weekday, Nancy Brule and Artie Terry wake at 5 a.m. On some days, they get ready to go into work to teach communications courses. But on others, they gear up to put in a day’s work on their 40 acres of farmland; known as paradise to the couple.
Growing up on a farm, Brule always dreamed of calling one her own someday. In 2011, she stumbled upon 40 acres of land in rural Pine City, Minn, located 60 miles north of Bethel.
“You walked in and you just felt like home,” Brule said of the first time she saw what is now her farm.
It didn’t take long for Brule to snatch the land up. She and her husband, Artie moved in right away.
According to the couple, the farm itself is still a work-in-progress. “It’s been five years, we still haven’t hung any pictures up,” Brule said with a chuckle. The outside work of the farm has been the main concern since the purchase.
There’s also the fact that both Terry and Brule have full-time careers outside of farm duties. Brule is the Department Chair of Bethel Communications Department and Artie teaches media production in that department. They have been able to amend their schedules to fit the needs of the farm by alternating the days they go into work and stay at home. That way, one of them can always be attending to the animals.
A typical day on the farm begins at 6 a.m. with feeding. “You go out and make sure they are all set for the day,” Brule said. Then come the general maintenance tasks; putting up fences, piling wood, hauling and covering hay. When 11:00 rolls around, that’s when either of them will sit down to do school work. Around 4:00 p.m., it’s back outside for the evening chores. By 6:00, it’s back inside to continue school work.
“People have no idea how many hours you put in a day between running the farm and doing schoolwork,” Brule said.
On days when they both come to campus, they have to “work before they work,” completing the chores of the farm before departing for their hour-long drive to Arden Hills.
“We have it down to a pretty good routine,” Terry said.
For Brule, the hard work is all worth it.
“No person gets rich just teaching or just farming,” she said. That is not the ultimate goal for her. “The teaching supports the farming, and the farming supports the teaching.” To lighten the load, Brule has received support from her students here.
“We were struggling to get a fence up, we weren’t able to do it just me and Artie,” Brule said. One of Brule’s communication students took it upon herself to gather a group of over 20 students to drive out the farm to help with the project. “They looked like a gang driving up,” Brule said laughing. The large group of students were able to finish off the entire project. “If it wasn’t for the hard work ethic, we would still be struggling to get our fence up,” Brule said. “That’s what I love about the tie between the farm and Bethel. Those students took it upon themselves; they saw the need and they acted upon it.”
Of course, without teaching, students would not receive the pleasure of hearing one of the many stories that come from the joys of owning a farm. A favorite story of students is when Terry asked for Brule’s hand in marriage.
“There was never really an official proposal,” Brule recalled. “One day I was trying out our brand new tractor for the first time, and Artie comes out of the house, kneels beside the tractor wheel and says, ‘Will you stick with me?’ Of course I thought it was the sweetest thing but what I was really thinking and what I replied was ‘That’s so sweet… do you really think you should be kneeling there?’” As Brule was one just one step away on the gas pedal from running her husband’s foot over.
“Yeah, I’m glad no one has pictures of that,” Terry said with a roll of his eyes.
Owning a farm along with teaching are two of Brule’s biggest passions in life. And she doesn’t have any plans soon of giving either of them up. “It’s a lot of work,” Brule said, “but I love it so much, it’s so worth it.”