Growing vegetables in winter, teaching children survival skills, mentoring college-age young adults, and visiting prison inmates are just a few aspects of simple living and serving others that fill Jim and Carrie Truax, rural Peabody, with a sense of purpose.
“It seems like God teaches us that each life has a purpose,” Jim said. “I find true joy in helping others find what their gifts are, what their purpose is.”
For the Truaxes, both in their late 60s and past retirement age, living simply helps them use gifts developed in years of serving others in many different capacities. It also gives them a chance to connect with others who might share similar interests and passions.
“We like to grow a lot of our own food,” Jim said. “We like to eat things that are organic and do not use a lot of spray or pesticides on our farm.”
Through the years, the couple raised cattle, goats, rabbits, chickens, turkeys, and pigeons for meat. They continue that, as well as grow most of their own fruits and vegetables.
“We have apple, pear, peach, cherry, persimmons, and good apricot trees,” Jim said. “I plan to order some more cherry trees in the spring. And my goal is to put in a water cache system sometime in the near future.”
Fresh greens in winter are a nice reward for hard work and help the couple maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.
“Sometimes it is overwhelming to keep up with it all,” Carrie Truax said. “But I really enjoy the cold frame gardening. The best thing is getting spinach and lettuce in February and March. It wouldn’t be enough for a large family, but it gives us plenty through the winter.”
In the spring, summer, and fall, they grow broccoli, tomatoes, green beans, corn, stock-tank strawberries, and many other types of healthy foods. Carrie has an interest in beekeeping, while Jim is the goat-milker and poultry, rabbit, and large-animal caretaker.
The Truaxes have two grown daughters, one whom graduated from the University of Kansas and the other from Kansas State University several years ago. The older couple maintains contact with students from those universities as well as Wichita State University and Tabor College, which gives them an opportunity to share their own joy of farm life with others who may not get that chance.
“We like to invite students out to our farm to get a break from college life and do natural things, like chopping wood or milking a goat,” Jim said. “Just the other month I had a student from Mongolia here that wanted to chop my wood. He said that was the most fun he had for a long time.”
Jim works with the Peabody-Burns school system to provide classes covering aspects of safety training and outdoor survival skills for younger students. Just last week, he taught fifth- and sixth-grade students there how to make survival cord bracelets from paracord.
“The outdoor life skills classes are something we started with the district last year,” he said. “I really enjoy the outdoors and love to share my knowledge and skills with the young people. So many do not get those opportunities these days.”
The Truaxes often host fishing groups at their farm pond, complete with hook baiting, fish frying, marshmallow roasting, and overnight camping experiences.
“I like to be able to give back to this community that gave me such a good start and helped define my life,” Jim said. “I graduated from Peabody High in 1960 and was a part of the FFA and the Jolly-J’s 4-H club. I had a solid upbringing here and learned real faith from my parents, Leland and Mary Truax.”
Jim graduated from Kansas State University with a degree in flour-milling technology and management in 1965. He then joined the U.S. Army, where he learned many of the survival and safety skills he now enjoys teaching young people. Carrie earned a degree in elementary education with an emphasis on special needs children from St. Cloud State College in Minnesota. Until recently, together they pursued a shared interest of serving others in many different places. Now they are glad to be serving friends in their home community.
“We are glad to feel a calling from God to be here on our farm,” Jim said. “We work hard at staying fit and healthy. We purposely live a simple lifestyle so that we have more to share with others.”
In addition to growing their own organic food, the couple heats their home mostly with wood, participates in Bible study groups, and supports local Boy Scout troops. They are members of the Peabody Christian Church and the Doyle Valley Farmers Market organization. Jim is part of the M2 prison outreach program and goes to El Dorado Correction Facility once a month where he enjoys meeting and visiting with a prisoner who comes from a radically different faith background than himself. Carrie mentors a female Chinese student at Wichita State University, and leads girls’ bible study groups several times each month.
“Just because you reach an age where society tells you to quit being active doesn’t mean that life as you knew it is over,” Jim said. “You can choose to start a whole new career. Finding purpose in life after 65 is just a matter of identifying what your God-given gifts and passions are and finding ways to serve others with them. I believe that should be true for everyone. Serving others can be a great occupation.”