A quiet life in a monastery, secluded and immersed in prayer - this is what normally comes to mind when one thinks of a monk. However, the Melleray Abbey monks in Peosta, Iowa were, up until recently, farmers. However, a few weeks ago the monks held an auction to sell their farm equipment as they will now rent out their land.
Since 1849, the New Melleray monks have farmed in Iowa, cultivating and harvesting the land themselves. This year's harvest was their last, and the auction was held to raise funds. Father Brendan Freeman, New Melleray Abbot, said that although the auction was indisputably a success, it was still "a bittersweet day for us" because "we're getting out of farming."
Freeman warmly recalled his time farming, but noted that the average age of the 35 monks is 70, making it difficult for them to run a farm. The monks kept their equipment in pristine condition: their used tractors looked new and Mark McClain, the auctioneer, assured buyers that they would "never find a better line of equipment." Tractors, combines, grain drills and trucks were all sold, with a John Deere 4-wheel-drive tractor fetching the most money at nearly $140,000.
The John Deere tractor was purchased by the Hosch family, local farmers who will also rent some of the land from the monks. The family's matriarch, Darla Hosch, asserted that they had hoped to buy the used tractor before the auction began. Now, "it will stay on the farm," Hosch declared with a smile.