Bob Fournie could write a book about how farming has changed over the years.
His grandfather, Prosper, used a hand-held cultivator pulled by a mule.
"It did a pretty good job," said Bob, 79, owner of Fournie Farms near Collinsville. "The only thing is, you couldn't cover very many acres in a day. You had to let the mule rest."
Bob's father, Leroy, was one of the first farmers in the area to get a tractor.
"I think it was a John Deere," Bob said. "Everything had steel wheels at that time. Hardly anyone had rubber tires."
But there's one thing that hasn't changed in farming: the importance of rain.
After seven decades in the family business, Bob considers 2012 his worst year ever due to drought.
"It started going downhill (in May) and just continued a gradual decline," he said. "There's never been an upbeat."
The farm has lost five plantings of sweet corn and has seen lower yields of other crops.
It's been frustrating for Bob, who takes pride in his produce.
"He's a stickler," said his wife, Jean, 73. "Everything has to be the best quality or he doesn't want to sell it."
This is the 30th anniversary of the Fournies' open-air market, a local landmark off Horseshoe Lake Road.
They're particularly grateful for loyal customers who have become friends.
"I like the produce, and I like the people," said Fran Robertson, 74, of Collinsville. "It's nice to get things grown in the area instead of shipped in from someplace else."
Fran was rooting through a box of potatoes while holding bags of green beans, squash and sweet corn.
Her sentiments were echoed by Sharyn Mussulman, 64, of Collinsville, who had come for garlic, tomatoes, zucchini and watermelon.
"I really like seeing a face with my food," she said. "I would love to go to a butcher and see a face with my meat.
"When you deal with people like this, you know your food is going to be good."
"People like this" include Bob's son, Danny, who helps with the farm, and Jean, who runs the market with daughter-in-law Cathy and granddaughter Amber.
"We cater to the people," Jean said. "If someone wants one ear of corn, we sell them one ear of corn. That's all some elderly people can afford."
Fournie also supplies restaurants, such as the Farmhaus in South St. Louis.
Owner Kevin Willmann, 34, lives in Collinsville and stops by the market twice a week.
"I get to hand-pick the produce, and these guys do a great job," he said. "They grow quality food, and our restaurant supports local farmers."
The Fournies farm about 360 acres, most owned by other people. The market is painted bright red because Bob thinks it's a "happy" color.
He puts on his blue Dickies every morning and works in the fields, despite a history of prostate cancer, skin cancer and two heart attacks.
"It was 107 degrees the other day, and he was out there picking okra," his wife said. "He's amazing."
Jean also is a worker, judging from her muscular arms and tan skin.
She stocks and sells produce, keeps the books and plants seeds by hand.
"I'm from a farm background," said Jean, who married Bob in 1958.
Danny, 49, works the ground, does the spraying and makes a daily trip to Produce Row in St. Louis to pick up fruits and vegetables the Fournies don't grow on site.
Danny also supervises the farm's Mexican pickers. He's fluent in Spanish.
"I was driving a little Ford 8N tractor when I was 5 years old," he said, sporting a ballcap and bushy beard. "When I was 8, I was cultivating horseradish with a Super C."
Danny and Cathy live down the road from Bob and Jean, who occupy the 1869 farmhouse Prosper bought in 1931.
Cathy, 52, has been working at the market every summer for 30 years. She knows many customers by name.
"We ask them how they're doing," she said. "We try to create a friendly atmosphere."
Bob took over Fournie Farms at 13 when his father died of a heart attack.
"He had to quit school," Jean said. "His mom had four other kids, and she was seven months pregnant."
In those days, the family raised cattle, hogs and chickens, smoked their own meat, canned their own produce and even ground their own flour.
They were self-sufficient, except Bob's mother traded eggs for coffee and salt.
"If you wanted chicken and dumplings, my mom would go out and ring a chicken's neck," Bob said.
He and his brother, Jimmy, continued to operate the farm as adults, selling to Produce Row or other roadside stands.
The family opened its own stand on July 4, 1982, mainly to create a job for Bob's daughter, Anna.
"All our kids worked on the farm (Danny, Anna and sister Susie)," Jean said. "I've got to say, they never complained when something needed to be done."
In the past three decades, the Fournies have expanded several times. They give some credit to dedicated employees, including Millie Sprinot, 80, of Collinsville, who has worked in the market 26 years.
The family's immediate concern is just staying afloat through their driest, hottest season. They're not ready to give up.
"(Farming) is in the blood," Danny said. "You either like it or you dislike it. The fresh air, the camaraderie, the array of people who come to buy vegetables ... And I like the feeling of accomplishment.
"When you put something in the ground and see it grow, you know, 'I did that.' You know you are doing a service. You know there's a reason why you're here."