On page six of today’s Yelm Prairie Days special section, we publish “Wilcoxes serve as Grand Marshals.”
Barrie and Susan Wilcox, from Wilcox Farms located at Harts Lake, are profiled in the story. Barrie had invited me to tour his family farm, and I took him up on his offer this week.
I met Barrie at the entrance to his home. The farm is situated on 1,600 acres along the Nisqually River and overlooks Harts Lake. The view of Mount Rainier from Barrie and Susan’s living room is stunning. The farm still has the original home of his grandfather, the home he grew up in, and now his new home. His brother lives next door. His nephew, House Minority Floor Leader Rep. JT Wilcox, is just over the hill.
Wilcox Farms is now in its fourth generation, and Barrie is retired, although it appears he’s pretty active. As we drove down a dirt road, he said his sons are pushing him to do some regrading with the tractor.
Barrie drove me through a maze of chicken coops. I learned the business has about 1.3 million birds, and with about 80 percent of them laying an egg a day, produces about 1 million eggs a day. Wilcox Farms employs about 300 workers.
Barrie showed me how his farm is transitioning to 100 percent organic and cage free. We peeked into a coop packed with clucking hens tucked in for the night after being able to scratch in the outdoor pen during the day.
Up at the house, Susan was waiting with a fresh pitcher of iced tea along with cheese and crackers.
Barrie and Susan exude warmth and hospitality. They met in college and married shortly after graduation. Last year they celebrated 50 years of marriage. They are ordinary people who happened to hit it pretty big with eggs.
Their story is much more than a successful egg farm (and it is a success: Barrie was named the national egg producer of the year in 1997). It is a successful life that has been handed down to their children and grandchildren.
Susan proudly points to a portrait with all the grandkids. They marvel at how the next generation, including their two sons, are joined together in running the farm. They humbly mention their daughter’s accomplishments in becoming a doctor.
When their kids were growing up, both Barrie and Susan were active in Scouts and Camp Fire (their youngest son attained the rank of Eagle Scout) and, of course, 4-H.
Barrie and Susan live by, and embrace, the notion that when you give, you get back so much more.
They are active in many groups, from Yelm Methodist Church (where Barrie still sings in the choir) to Yelm Lions Club. Barrie volunteered for 42 years with the local fire district. Susan treasures her time at Yelm Christian Women’s Club gatherings, and is remembered by many for her substitute teaching in Yelm. Susan is passionate about a program that helps feed homeless youth in Yelm. In past years you could find them both ringing the bell for two weeks prior to Christmas for the Salvation Army in front of Safeway.
The Yelm Chamber of Commerce made the best choice when they picked Barrie and Susan as parade Grand Marshals. When they drive past you in their 1928 Chevrolet Touring Car in the Prairie Days parade Thursday night, give them the ovation they deserve.
For me, the evening at Wilcox Farms was an inspiration to live life in an upright manner, to give freely. The blessings that flow back are countless.