Watch: Trucker Talent winner captures the pain of missing parts of a daughter’s growth

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John Malayter’s path to trucking was more indirect than most. One of his occupational forays was small-scale farming, which was a big factor when he and his wife, Elizabeth, looked to move away from New Jersey.

“We moved to Tennessee to play more music,” says Malayter, a Jordan Carriers company driver and the winner of the 2020 Overdrive-Red Eye Radio Trucker Talent Search. However, it wasn’t country music capital Nashville they settled in, but Rogersville, a small town northeast of Knoxville that seemed right for their plan to pursue organic farming. They moved there in 2003. Their daughter, Emma, was born in 2004.

John Malayter and daughter Emma selling produce from the family’s organic farm.John Malayter and daughter Emma selling produce from the family’s organic farm.

Malayter and Elizabeth farmed full time for about seven years, selling certified organic produce and eggs. They ventured into raising pasture hogs, which Malayter lovingly calls “money eaters.” Though no longer farming full time, they continue to raise meat chickens, goats, rabbits and turkeys on a reduced scale. The farm is also home to household dogs, a cattle dog, cats, large pigs and ducks.

With Malayter’s income from trucking allowing them to make ends meet, Elizabeth and Emma, now 16, maintain the farm on a smaller scale. Elizabeth does all the networking and delivering, as well as pretty much every other job on the farm.

For Emma Malayter, a big part of growing up has been caring for animals on the family’s organic farm. Her father, John Malayter, entered this year’s Trucker Talent Search with an original song about seeing the years slip away as Emma grew up.For Emma Malayter, a big part of growing up has been caring for animals on the family’s organic farm. Her father, John Malayter, entered this year’s Trucker Talent Search with an original song about seeing the years slip away as Emma grew up.

Emma is e-learning due to COVID-19, so she has more time before and after school to help with feeding and watering. Family photos show that Emma’s been a natural at adopting to farm life.

While Malayter feels truck driving has been a good fit for him, like many of his peers he’s keenly aware of the sacrifices a parent makes maintaining a driving career. He entered his original “I’ve Only Known You for 18 Years,” about his sense of Emma growing up too quickly, for the Trucker Talent Search.

“I had the majority of these words sitting around for the last couple of years, but coming home one recent weekend and catching up with my family in the kitchen, the rest of the words came to me,” he says.

See the video of Malayter’s performance (above), including family photos showing Emma’s development from a child to a young adult.

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