PERU Anyone traveling down Jarvis Road at this time of year is likely to see a large John Deere tractor pulling a chopper and wagon through a huge corn crop. They probably would be surprised to learn the tractor is being driven by 92-year-old Kermit Irwin a man who loves farming, loves to talk about his communitys history and isnt ready to quit working.
When Kermit isnt chopping corn its likely hes in the barn cleaning milking equipment or doing some other chore. In the springtime he plows the soil and in the summertime he bales the hay. Kermit was two years old when his father, Joseph, purchased the farmland with the beautiful maple trees on the banks of the Little Ausable River. The family had previously lived in Peasleeville. Kermit cant recall a time when he didnt work on the farm.
My father had the farm paid for by 1918," he said. "Then the Depression hit, a disease went through the herd and almost bankrupted us. We finally got out of the Depression in 1943."
Kermit laments our countrys loss of smaller farms over the years saying, Farming has gone factory because of economics. He misses the days when registered cow owners from Clinton and Essex counties gathered at the Peru Tavern saying, Wed have a speaker, a dinner meeting and discuss our problems.
Kermit graduated from Peru High School in 1934. Senator Ronald Staffords mother, Agnes Martin, was one of his schoolmates. Kermit has many stories about the prohibition era, including names of well-known mobsters who smuggled liquor through Peru. He tells a prohibition story about $50,000 changing hands a few hundred feet from his home at the corner of Jarvis Road and State Route 22B.
In 1950, Kermit married a young lady named Bertha "Bert" Nax who grew up in Buffalo and was teaching school in Au Sable Forks. Bert and Kermit raised a family of six children three boys and three girls. All three of the couples boys Bob, Jim and Melvin still operate the farm. Today, the Irwins grow crops on 700 acres, milk about 80 registered Holsteins and harvest apples in their nearby orchard.
At the conclusion of our interview, Kermit remarked, When Im on my tractor nobody bothers me. I can see a fox or a woodchuck. Once in a while I see deer. Its peace!
In his 92 years Kermit Irwin has had many days of hard work and peace.