The blender also was economically beneficial to Pearce and his farm.

"Having our blender allowed us to provide what the individual fields' needed," Pearce said. "We were saving money by not putting nutrients the fields didn't need."

All of this came from someone who by his own admission struggled with chemistry as a college student.

"It took me four semesters to get through two semesters of college chemistry," Pearce laughs.


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Pearce also managed other farms, including one farm in Havre de Grace owned by John Kenney, a Washington attorney. When Kenney's farm manager died unexpectedly during harvest season, a good friend of Pearce's told him to go to Kenney and offer to help harvest.

Kenney agreed, and Pearce was happy to assist. He took over managing the farm, and continued to do so even after Kenney died in 1992 and left the farm to Johns Hopkins University in his will. Pearce continued to farm the land on the university's behalf until 1994, when the farm, today known as Swan Harbor Farm, was purchased by Harford County.

"We farmed a lot of land, we did a good job and people knew that we would do a good job," Pearce said.

Lots of stories

Pearce's years of farming included many events that were, to say the least, very interesting. One such instance occurred when Pearce was farming for the canning business.

One of the company's trucks was transporting grain from the farm in Perryman to Hanover in Baltimore County. As the truck passed over a drawbridge in Baltimore city, the bridge came up, causing the grain to spill and the truck to flip over.

"I learned that Baltimore city doesn't pay damages," Pearce said. "Two cars run into each other, too bad. Two trucks run into each other, too bad. A truck flips over, too bad."

Pearce unsuccessfully fought the city in court. He later found out that accident happened because two hydraulic locks on the bridge weren't enabled.

"Not many farmers have had a truck flip over on a drawbridge," Pearce said.

Another event was a little more serious.

In 2001, a local man whom Pearce knew came to the farm brandishing a handgun looking for Pearce. When a truck driver drove by and saw the man, the man fired at the truck. The situation became rather serious when the man decided to hold Pearce hostage inside his own home.

The man, Carl Sexton, wanted to stop the war in Afghanistan and wanted to deliver his message to the public. Pearce decided to call his friend Jim McMahan, who at the time owned radio station WAMD-AM in Aberdeen, to see if Sexton would be willing to go on the radio. Sexton initially agreed, but then changed his mind and wanted to get on television. McMahan these days is retired from radio and a member of the Harford County Council.

The arrival of Harford County sheriff's deputies didn't help matters.

"The sheriffs came in their little tank, and Carl shot at them through our window," Pearce said. One of the bullets struck a patrol car, and another struck Pearce's garage. A bullet hole is still there today.

A series of phone calls by McMahan to local TV stations proved fruitless, as they refused to put Sexton on TV. Finally, Pearce was connected to Richard Sher, then at WJZ-TV.

"How can I help you?" Sher asked Pearce.