Vause’s are 2010 Farm Family of the Year for Wakulla
The Wakulla News
by Jennifer Raymond
The 2010 Farm Family: D.R. “Pee Wee” Vause with wife Dalynda and daughter Leah.
“I was really surprised and also honored,” Vause says. “Family farms are a dying breed. I felt honored to keep that heritage alive. ”Vause is a third generation farmer, who calls himself a gentleman farmer.
He farms on the land that his mother grew up on. His grandfather bought the land from the Indians in the 1800s and started farming.
Vause says his mother told stories about her father bartering with the Indians when she was a little girl. “It’s kind of neat to hear those things as part of your heritage,” Vause says.
Vause’s uncle took over the property after his grandfather. Vause bought the family farm in 1963 and raised his family on the farm.
“I taught them everything about farming,” Vause says. Most of his children have grown up and started their own families.
Vause is married to Dalynda and they have five children: Keith, Klay, Bethany, Ryan and Leah. Leah is the last one of the children left on the farm.
“It’s quiet and pretty,” Leah says of the farm. “There’s a warm, family feeling. ”The Vauses’ also have six grandchildren who love the farm and enjoy visiting.
“I feel blessed to have a place for them to identify farming,” Vause says. “They can identify where the real sense of life is sustained.” His father also had a farm and was a three-tiered person. He farmed, fished and built houses to make a living.
“I was blessed to grow up on a farm,” Vause says. “Once you get it in your blood, it’s hard to get out. ”On the 160 acres that he owns, he has about 30 head of cattle. He also leases 60 acres of land to raise hay on.
Vause is like his father, he says, in that farming isn’t the only way he provides for his family. Dalynda works at Centennial Bank, formerly Wakulla Bank, and he owns Vause Mechanical Engineering.
“I wish it was all we had to do,” Vause said. He added that someone has to farm a large amount of acreage to make a living.
“Farming is an expensive situation,” Vause says. Dalynda adds that the equipment and upkeep is expensive.
The Vause family also has chickens and they raise their own eggs. Vause also started a greenhouse two years ago on his farm where he grows all kinds of plants by hydroponic gardening.
Vause says this gardening technique mixes water and fertilizer into a liquid that is pumped into boxes of plants. “As you water your plants, you also fertilize plants,” he says.
The plants are set up on three different levels and the mixture seeps down from one level to the next. “You don’t waste,” Vause says.
Vause also started making cane syrup about eight years ago. He says he remembered doing it as a kid and wanted to continue it as part of his heritage and it’s something they do for fun.
Vause says he does about five to six cookings a year and invites people in the community to come see the process. “It’s a good fellowship for the whole community,” Vause says.
Dalynda adds, “It’s amazing to watch the transformation. ”She says that there are very few people left in the county who do it.
And it’s a little different than how they did it in the old days. Now, they use a four wheeler to help grind the cane stock, as opposed to a mule, she says. Both Dalynda and D.R. were born and raised in Wakulla County.
“Our families go way back,” Dalynda says. Both have been very active in the community, including time with the Cattlemen’s Association, Relay for Life, Coastal Optimists, TCC Alumni Association and Ducks Unlimited.
Vause was the president of the Cattlemen’s Association and served on the Expo Association committee, which was determined to bring an exposition center or civic center to Wakulla County. The committee started after the Cattlemen’s Association discussed wanting to have a cattle sale and realized Wakulla County didn’t have a location where they could do that.
They felt Wakulla County needed a place to hold large functions. For 12 years, Vause says the committee sought funding for the expo center.
They raised enough money to buy the land and fence it. “We just could never get the funding,” Vause says.
After 12 years, the association decided to join with TCC and donated the land to them to develop the Wakulla Environmental Institute. “It saddens me, but on the other side, I feel very good with hope,” Vause says.
Vause says it is a beautiful opportunity for Wakulla County. “I hope it will bring about some really great success for our county and citizens,” he says.
The Vause Family will represent Wakulla County at the North Florida Fair, which runs from Nov. 4 to 14. Vause said he looks forward to it and Leah seemed to be the most excited.
“We want to do things to honor Wakulla,” Vause says. They will also be honored at a breakfast on Nov. 24.