In the swaying curtain of green fields outside town, Russ Ranniger hums along in his Deere tractor, plowing the same soil his father did, sleeping in the same 1881 wood-frame house he was carried into as a newborn 60 years ago. In nearly four decades of farming, he knows how to measure success.

Good crop prices? Check. Confidence (and money) to buy new equipment? Check. The past five years? “The best farming days of my career.”

Howard Drees, a third-generation contractor in Carroll, gauges prosperity by his crowded work calendar. These days, he’s so busy with mechanical and electrical projects he’s hired an outside company to help and is searching for skilled workers.