Brian Sampson of Story County is an optimist.

“I like to be around people who think most things are possible,” says Sampson.

When the derecho rolled through his farm last year, he didn't see it as an ending. He saw it as a new beginning. “I guess you could say it was the crescendo that had been building.”

Sampson and his son farm around 1,600 acres of corn and soybeans and feed around 1,500 head of cattle each year.

It wasn’t what Sampson had envisioned.

“Farming was my job when my son was growing up,” says Sampson. “He never talked about the farm, he was into sports, ...