A lifetime of farming
Everett Weeks, 80, still planting corn in Belmont
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL
LACONIA DAILY SUN
BELMONT — Everett Weeks Jr. will be planting corn, as usual, this Memorial Day, but this year is special. He will turn 80 on Sunday, and it will be the 70th anniversary of growing produce on the family farm.
“I’m the last of the Mohicans,” Weeks said.
A local farmer whom everyone recognizes when he goes to the store downtown, Weeks lives in the same home where was born on May 28, 1937. He was the ninth child of Lena Weeks, who brought eight children from a previous marriage with her when she married Everett Weeks Sr.
“Now I’m the oldest one on Depot Street,” Weeks said.
“This road has changed a lot,” he added, recalling that he used to play football in the street. Today, 8,000 vehicles a day pass by the Weeks Farm complex, which includes the farmhouse residence and several outbuildings used for equipment, cordwood, and vegetables.
His grandfather was in the lumber business and, with Everett Sr., built a sawmill on the 220-acre property in 1921. The two-story structure also served as a barn for pigs and hay storage until it burned down, at a $57,000 loss, three years ago. Weeks said that, if not for the metal roof, the fire would likely have spread to other buildings on the property.
“I’m probably not going to be able to rebuild it,” he said.
Against his grandfather’s wishes, Everett Sr. chose farming over lumber and decided to make a living with the sale of crops and eggs. “Farming is an awful discouraging prospect,” Weeks said, explaining that it is dependent upon the weather and a lot of hard work.
The Weeks Farm started growing corn in 1947, using one pound of seeds. “In the olden days, we planted with a horse,” Weeks said.
“My father was a horse man, and I was a tractor boy,” he said, explaining that, although a horse once injured his father, it was the tractor that scared Everett Sr. He finally agreed to make the change and sold all of his cattle for $2,800 so he could purchase a tractor.
Since 1947, the Weeks family has planted corn every Memorial Day — “although it all hinges on the weather.” Today, instead of one pound of seed, Weeks plants 35 pounds of corn on three acres.
“Most anybody likes sweet corn,” he said.
Two other vegetables that are top sellers for him are tomatoes and pumpkins, with zucchini also being popular.
Now operating the farm with a part-time assistant, Weeks also keeps 200 chickens and sells the eggs to stores and restaurants, as well as to those stopping by the farm.
The sale of hay also has been a big part of the operation, averaging 20 tons a year.
“Fifty years ago, they introduced the baler,” Weeks said, “but we used to hire it done. We couldn’t pay $18,000 for a bailer. We finally bought one 20 years ago, and we’re on our second one now.”
Farming equipment is expensive, and Weeks said he has $100,000 worth of hay equipment now. He has three tractors: an International Super C, a New Holland 45 hp model, and a Kubota 58 hp tractor.
In addition to the crops he raises, Weeks purchases apples for cider-making. He has a small, antique cider press outfitted with an electric motor that allows him to produce limited quantities of cider.
“I can buy apples cheaper than growing my own,” he said, adding that he gets an average of two gallons of cider from a bushel of apples.
He recently led a tour of the farm for Belmont High School students and the cider press was a popular stop for them.
The farm also sells honey produced by Tim Hayes on the Weeks property.
“I used to have pigs, and once had 35 heifers,” Weeks said.
Weeks does not like to talk about his contributions to the community, but he did say he gives 15 dozen eggs per week to the food pantry at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Weeks served in the U.S. Army’s 34th Artillery in Munich, Germany, in 1960, as a truck driver. He was part of the team assembling and transporting the “Honest John” rocket, the first nuclear-capable surface-to-surface missile in the U.S. arsenal.
His military duty put him in harm’s way only once, he said. Another soldier accidentally dropped a hand grenade next to him. A sergeant swooped in and grabbed the grenade and tossed it safely away.
Weeks recalled making a trip to Italy with a friend during military leave, visiting the Sistine Chapel. “I could never have afforded to do that on my own,” he said.
After two years overseas, he returned to the United States and spent another two years with the 368th Engineers of Laconia.
Weeks and his sister, Leonie Kolinski, served as grand marshals of Belmont’s 2009 Old Home Day celebration, and, last year, the town put on a surprise 79th birthday party for him.
He loves to discuss Belmont history and any discussion with him is likely to drift to historic sites and changes to the town over the years. He has an extensive collection of old photographs, including one of the first train to pull into the Belmont depot on Aug. 17, 1889. He points out his home, visible in the background of the old photograph.
The house is part of Belmont’s Factory Village District, and Linda Frawley, chairman of the Belmont Heritage Commission, said, “Weeks Farm and land holdings are a significant part of Belmont community heritage, through generations of Weeks family ownership.”
“I’d like to live as long as my father, next year,” Weeks said about turning 80. Everett Sr., like many others in the Weeks family, died at age 81.
His many friends in Belmont would say they’d like him to stick around much longer than that.
Everett Weeks checks his tractor in preparation for the haying season at the Weeks Farm in Belmont. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)
Everett Weeks is preparing for the haying season at the Weeks Farm in Belmont. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)
Everett Weeks prepares to box up fresh eggs at his Belmont farm. (Tom Caldwell/Laconia Daily Sun)