Carri Flewellyn resembles the likes of a horse whisperer. Her quiet disposition and gentle mannerisms appeal to her team of horses. Yet Carri knows that raising horses is more about listening than whispering.
Her love for horses started in junior high. “As a farm kid I would sit and look at them,” said Carri. “I wanted a horse and my brothers wanted three-wheelers.”
As it turned out, she got her first horse when her father, Jim Quincer, realized that it would be useful in rounding up the cattle from their pastureland in Wisconsin. They would bring the beef cattle home in the fall to their feedlot and feed them until they reached market weight.
Growing up on a farm northwest of Malta, Carri said their family had “just about every type of farm animal at one time.” They had cattle, then hogs and sheep. And, of course horses.
For almost four decades Carri has been all about equine. The horse lover knows how to communicate and build trust with her horses. Her horse of 12 years, Bullet, is a racking horse or pleasure horse, known for its steady gait. She rides Bullet and other horses, Daisy, Boo, Dee and Riddles, regularly.
In the summertime, Carri and her husband, John, have taken their horses on trail rides to scenic areas like the Rocky Mountains, Badlands, Smokey Mountains, Shawnee National Forest, and locally to Franklin Creek.
“I’ve always been an animal person. I love my horses,” she said.
Carri Flewellyn has her summers off to spend time with her horses but during the school year you will find her in her fourth grade classroom at Malta Elementary. As an alumnus of Malta grade and high schools, she teaches in the building which was once “the old high school” that she attended, located on Route 38.
The school was converted into a junior high school and then into an elementary building with the consolidation of Malta and DeKalb school districts. Carri has spent her entire teaching career at Malta and DeKalb.
“I like teaching; there’s something different every day,” said the elementary teacher.
In the nearly three decades she has been teaching, Carri has noticed some changes in the makeup of her classroom. “When I first started teaching, half the kids would have come from farms. Now, I might have one with a farm background.”
In the past she taught many children who lived in the country. Now several of her students live in high rises or apartment buildings.
“Most don’t have a clue about farming,” stated Carri. “Anytime I can talk about agriculture in the classroom, I do!” To help with the disconnect, the fourth grade teacher says she incorporates farm and food discussions into most all curriculums – particularly social studies, science and reading.
“They don’t realize how ag-based everything is. I tell them everything depends on agriculture,” says Carri, an advocate for agriculture and also a Farm Bureau Ag Literacy Ambassador.
As an Ag Literacy Ambassador for her school, she shares information and resources with other teachers, provided by Farm Bureau. Carri also has been a participant in Farm Bureau’s Summer Ag Institute (SAI) for teachers, which she recently completed.
“I like the ideas which come out of SAI,” said the elementary teacher. “Through the tours and discussions it’s interesting to learn about the life stories of the people we meet and their perspectives on different issues. This year, I learned about watersheds and wind towers.”
SAI provided her with graduate teaching credits; as a teacher she is required to take classes and keep her teaching certificate up to date. Carri holds a bachelor’s degree in education from NIU and also a master’s degree.
Carri helps her husband, John, with farming when she can. Summertime is hay season for the Flewellyn’s who have a hay business. From their 50 acres, they provide hay for horse stables located in the Chicago suburbs.
The farm woman drives their Magnum 8920 tractor pulling the baler which makes square bales. John handles the bales with an accumulator and stacks the bales.
“Our hay season and the weather are not cooperating,” said Carri. “It’s always a battle to get the hay up.” Wet weather conditions have set back cutting and baling the alfalfa and grass mixture of hay.
Once the second cutting of hay is done, the Flewellyns take a vactation and go horseback riding. Regrowth of the hay ground allows them to do a third cutting in August and perhaps one more before fall.
In the fall Carri helps John with harvest by hauling grain wagons filled with field corn or soybeans to the Lee elevator about two miles west of their farm.
Carri’s contentment with her farm lifestyle and family includes talking about her daughters: Jordan, a soon-to-be veterinarian now based in Missouri; and Megan, a new college graduate in a marketing and communications job in Iowa.
The Lee farm woman says the only thing better than riding horses is spending time with family and friends.