Jeff Evans initially planned to rent most of his 60-acre farm to neighbors and raise just one or two horses. That was 25 years and hundreds of heifers ago.
The professor of civil and environmental engineering now spends much of his time outside the classroom running a "daycare center for cattle" on the rural land near Bucknell's campus. In addition to caring for about two dozen heifers at a time, Evans plants and harvests corn and alfalfa for feed, and maintains farming equipment — all when he's not teaching courses on environmental geo-technology or hazardous waste management.
"You have to be amenable to hard work," says Evans, who's currently on sabbatical and spending six months on an Overseas Fellowship at Churchill College, Cambridge University, in the United Kingdom. When he returns home, he'll resume caring for a herd of young female cattle, raising them until they are mature enough to produce milk, at which point he'll return them to their Amish owner.
All of it is worth the effort, he says. Life in the countryside is quiet. Little traffic passes on the road nearby. Sloping fields and pastures with black-and-white Holsteins dot the landscape. Far away from much light pollution, the stars shine a little brighter at night.
"It's pretty sweet," says Evans.