By Michael Boyink
They say that when one door closes, another one opens. It’s a little different in Thornfield.
The folks at Donley Feed and Fertilizer had two doors open, and are now choosing to focus on just one of them.
The feed side of the business closed on Friday, March 29. The fertilizer side will remain in operation for the foreseeable future.
On a recent late Monday morning, the parking lot was anything but slow.
After returning from errands, owner Larry Donley supervised workers finalizing repairs to equipment.
Once they wrapped up, he cited two factors for the change in business offerings.
The first was the difficulty of finding good help. “We put ads in the local papers,” Larry said, “and just couldn’t find anyone we liked.”
The other was age and the health challenges that come with it.
“H.K. (Gaulding – one of Donley’s 40+ year employees) wants to slow down a little,” said Donley, “Handle cattle or do a little something else. I’ve had some health issues. This winter I was out for 18 days and the doctor said I only had a 40 percent chance of surviving.”
He walked across the parking lot to weigh an incoming fertilizer semi, then returned and continued to talk about the history of the business.
“I bought this land in 1967. I had to clean the timber off of it,” he said. “It was a pretty nice little business. We met a lot of good people. We enjoyed it.”
He then checked in with the driver of a pickup truck towing a trailer, and came back to talk about his future plans.
“I won’t quit. I won’t sell it because it sits right on the edge of my farm. We’ll run fertilizer and a few more cattle,” Donley said. “We’ll mostly be here in the spring and fall. People know to call us if we aren’t here.”
Then Larry was off to manage the lineup of trucks waiting to access to the mill’s elevator leg.
Visit Donley Feed and Fertilizer at 47 Mill Road, Thornfield, Missouri 65762. Contact them by phone at 417-265-3529.