The 40 hens on John Dvorak’s farm, two miles southwest of Marion, provide more than enough eggs for him and his wife, Carol. They give the excess production to Marion County Food Bank in Marion.
Carol Dvorak said they deliver a dozen cartons of the eggs whenever they have extras, which can be as often as every other week or once a month. The chickens have an outside cage but range free for several hours every day. A light bulb in the chicken barn provides eight to 10 hours of light during winter months to extend production.
They are always looking for empty egg cartons to use to replace the ones they give away filled with eggs. The cartons can be brought to the food bank or left at Marion Senior Center.
The Dvoraks are growing 25 production chicks as replacement hens.
Egg production is a small part of the Dvorak farming operation. The 66-year-old farmer rents 1,000 acres along Middle Creek Road in Chase County, producing wheat, corn, and soybeans. He also has 50 head of longhorn beef cattle that run on 600 acres of Flint Hills grass during the growing season. Some of the grass is put up for winter feeding.
Dvorak said he enjoys working with Longhorn cattle. He said, contrary to public perception, they have a gentle temperament and are easy to handle.
Three months ago, Dvorak acquired a herd of Spanish-bred goats. The 48 does produced 66 kids this spring. Most will be sold when they reach 60 pounds.
Dvorak enjoys the freedom that farming provides and likes knowing he is growing food for the public.
“You ask people in the big cities where their food comes from, and they’ll say, ‘the grocery store,’” he said. “But they’ve got to have us. And a farmer’s got to like it to keep going.”
He hopes to farm another four or five years before retiring.
Dvorak grew up in a large family on a farm west of Lincolnville in the Pilsen community. He graduated from Centre High School in 1965.
He and his first wife, Karen, lived in Lincolnville until her death in 1983. They had three children: Sherry, Derek, and Darrin. After he married Carol, they moved to a farm east of Marion.
John and Carol have been married for 27 years. They have lived at their present location on Quail Creek Road for 25 years. She did chores and helped him with farm work for many years, until a medical condition forced her to quit about five years ago.
“I can still be bossy,” she said, smiling.