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Winding Road Leads to Home

09/23/2013 @ 6:35am

Aaron Wenger is proud to be the fifth generation to live on a century farm just southeast of Elgin, nestled in between the beautiful rolling hills of northeast Iowa. But, he took the most unusual road to get home. 

As a child of a career military officer, Aaron spent his childhood moving from place to place. His two brothers and he moved all over the nation, living in a total of eight different states. One constant was spending summers in Fayette County, Iowa, where he stayed in his grandmother’s large farmhouse and helped his uncles farm. Helping with farm work gave him a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day and connected him to the land and the people here.

That’s why, after graduating high school in Memphis, Tennesee, Aaron knew he was going to make his way to the Midwest. He accepted a partial football scholarship at Southeast Missouri State in Cape Girardeau.

Aaron loved belonging to the team and the experience of college football, but he felt the urge to look toward the future and decided to transfer to Iowa State University (ISU) in Ames. 

After graduating in December 2008 from ISU with a bachelor’s degree in Ag Studies, Aaron worked for a farmer in Central Iowa for two years. He used this time to build connections in Fayette County and plan a transition to his grandparents’ farm.

Aaron’s uncle was willing to help him begin farming. Aaron provided labor on his uncle’s farm in exchange for the use of his uncle’s equipment. An agreement was also reached with his grandma to move into her farmhouse, which allowed Aaron and his wife, Kali (Kay-lee) to start making that house their home. 

Because they produce pork, the Wengers are sharing one of their pork favorite recipes. These ham balls are perfect for fall tailgates, whether they’re enjoyed outside the football stadium or inside a farm field during the harvest season. They can be made ahead of time and freeze well. 

Ham Balls 

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds ground ham
  • 2 pounds ground pork (no seasoning)
  • 2 cups bread crumbs or 1 sleeve of saltine crackers (crushed)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs

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