He has farmed his whole life, milking cows and growing —and winning awards for — his hay, but 89-year-old Sykesville farmer Glenn Rash said his upcoming appearance on Maryland Public TV is truly an honor.
Rash will kick off the season for MPT’s “Maryland Farm & Harvest” show, airing Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m.
“I started farming on our home farm. When I was big enough to go to school, I had to get up to milk cows by hand in the morning and then again in the evening, when I came home from school,” Rash said. “I’ve been on the farm all my life, 89 years, going on 90 [in April].”
Rash said, for many years, he and his brothers had a partnership, farming 3,000 acres and milking 100 head of cows.
“In the spring 1988, my two brothers retired and I continued with the hay business. It’s been strictly hay since then. I put a lot of effort into making quality hay and have won awards at the Howard County Fair and Maryland State Fair for my achievement in high quality hay.”
Rash now farms 30 acres of hay annually, doing about four cuttings of alfalfa, three cuttings of orchard grass and about two cuttings of timothy hay. Many of his customers are horse owners who he said are often concerned about the sugar content in hay.
“I try to make low-sugar hay as much as I can,” he said. “It is all in when the hay is cut. The sugar content is up in the morning, so I mow late in the evening when the sugar content is down. One of my customers just had the hay tested. She said she had never seen the sugar content so low.”
Rash said some of his customers have been with him for 35 to 40 years, a testament to him and the hay he produces. MPT heard about Rash through an email from Danette McThenia, whose husband, Mark, has worked for Rash for years.
“I just thought they should hear Glenn’s story,” Danette McThenia said. “He deserves the recognition. I think he is amazing. At his age, he is still doing what he is doing, and he loves it. It is the passion in his life.”
Mark McThenia said he started working for Rash as a 12-year-old.
“He farmed the ground on the farm I grew up on. I was attracted to equipment,” Mark McThenia said with a laugh. “I started milking cows for him. In February of 1988, Glen went out on his own in the hay business. I have helped him on and off through all those years.”
Mark McThenia, a full-time truck driver, said working for Rash is his “mental rehabilitation.”
“I enjoy being out in the field and helping him with his hay. I hope I am able to do what he is doing when I am 90. Not that I want to do all that,” he jokingly said.
McThenia describes Rash as hardworking.
“But, to him, he has never worked a day in his life, because he thoroughly enjoys what he does. But it is hard work,” he said. “Glenn is like the energizer bunny. He does not stop. He is a very good man. He treats you right, and he treats all his hay customers like family. When people pick up hay, it’s not just picking up hay, it is a visit.”
McThenia spoke of the excitement he saw in Rash on the July day that MPT filmed.
“He was so excited,” he said. “It was priceless to be there. He was running a baler, I was running another baler and another guy came in to run the stack wagon. They put a camera in the tractor Glenn was running and they also had a drone running up over the field where he was working. I can’t wait to see it. He was like a kid that day.”
Said Rash: "At my age, I feel honored to be invited onto film. I have achieved a lot of things in my lifetime, but it was really something to be on television.”
Rash described the process.
“A man named Joe interviewed me on July 1, while I was sitting on a bale of hay with my ribbons. Then, he filmed me doing second cutting of hay and tedding it out. When I mow, it is compacted into a row. After mowing I ted it out to dry. It was beautiful weather, so on the third day we baled," Rash recalled. "Joe and the photographer, Nick, came back on that day and filmed at 9:30 in the morning. Then, they set up the cameras to film me raking hay. At 1 o’clock we started baling, running two balers and a stack wagon. We bale them and drop them on the ground then the stackers pick up 160 bales, stacking hay nine bales high.”
When asked what keeps him going, Rash said it is his customers first, but it is also the miracle of it all.
“It is the challenge of planting the seed and — as tiny as it is — to see that little seed grow,” he said. “I go out and fertilize and use weed control to keep the weeds out. I want high quality hay when I put it in the barn. How those little seeds grow and fill that barn every year … that is amazing.”
His wife, Mary Sue, has seen this side of her husband many times.
“Way back, he’d plant a regular garden,” she said. “In the evening, he would go out and use his pen knife to open up the ground to see if the seed had germinated. Then, he’d gently cover it up again. He is a good steward of the land.”
She said her husband has won grand champion for his hay at the state fair, but he also won an award for being a good steward of the land, an award only given to one person annually.
“He takes pride in his farming and he is excellent,” she said. He is a good steward of the land and he’s a good example for those who want to go into farming."
Catch Glenn Rash on MPT on Tuesday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. and livestreaming at mpt.org/anywhere/live-stream-mpt/. See encore broadcasts on MPT-HD Thursdays at 11 p.m. and Sundays at 6 a.m. Each episode also airs on MPT2/Create at 7:30 p.m. Fridays.