Farming has been in the family for several generations, and Jeff Stevens grew up around farming. He became the owner-operator of the Muddy Springs Farm in Lincoln County in the 2000s raising beef on the same land that belonged to some of his extended family. The interview consists of Jeff’s personal accounts about farming, how he entered it, and how he manages to run a full-time farm while also working a full-time job with Duke Energy. Jeff speaks about using brewery grains with regular feed for his cattle, in-common land ownership, and the various issues that his, and other small, family-owned farms, face in the current market. Jeff’s wife, Emily, also talks about her role on the farm.
|0:00:30||Introdution to Muddy Springs Farm|
|0:01:00||In-common and renting acreage|
|0:04:00||Raising steers and Wytheville, VA|
|0:05:50||Marketing and problems with Farmers’ Markets|
|0:07:20||Working for Duke at the McGuire Power Station|
|0:08:20||An average day|
|0:09:24||Family and influences|
|0:10:25||Weather and caring for the animals|
|0:12:10||Costs and other expenses|
|0:15:40||Challenges of farming|
|0:18:20||Education, learning, and networking|
|0:20:00||Organizations and government assistance|
|0:22:00||Endangered farms and youth|
|0:24:33||Organic farming and using brewery grains|
|0:26:40||The support of older farmers|
|0:27:40||Watching the sideways tornado|
|0:29:05||Surprises with steer prices|
|0:31:15||Wytheville as a cattle hub|
|0:33:35||Future plans and the younger generations|
|0:38:30||Additional thoughts about farming|
|0:40:35||Farmers’ wives and family|
|0:44:45||The demands of time|
|0:46:50||Popular mentality and final comments|
|0:50:17||End of interview|
>> Okay, so we are now recording. It is Sunday, March 10th, 2019. Can you state your name, for the record?
>> Jeff Stevens.
>> Okay, and Jeff according to this questionnaire, you live off of Highway 73, in the Lincolnton.
>> Okay, all right, and this would be then Lincoln County?
>> Lincoln County, Iron Station’s the city.
>> Okay, is there an actual name for your firm, or is it just-
>> Muddy Springs Farm.
>> Money Springs Farm?
>> Muddy Springs.
>> Muddy Springs, okay. Muddy Springs and you have owned it for roughly 15 years or is that what you had?
>> No, it’s been, yeah, I guess, it’s been about 15 years.
>> Okay, for the record, Jeff’s wife Emily is here as well. And it’s okay [LAUGH].
All right Muddy Springs farm. Now, you’ve said this farm was originally part of the Perkins farm, is that correct?
>> Okay, I used to Perkins farm still around or-
>> Yes, they have 60 acres on the right side. And also where their churches on the left.
>> Used to be got by Perkins land, he give that to the church.
>> It was got Perkins on don’t know where it is I’m not sure the acreage, and one of his daughters married Buzz Real, and he gave Buzz, I think this time it was 20 acres of land.
And this right here. But the brick house was included with that area in between, so it made it roughly 20 acres. And then, when Buzz passed away, Carol his daughter, got it. Who married my Papa’s brother. Okay, so they had it for several years. And he mainly grew produce on it.
And then, my papa and his brother Bud, who owned this land, did an uncommon swap because they owned 50 acres together up on Hill Road. So, Carol swapped Papa cuz Bud had already passed away. So Carol swapped Papa his 50 acres, the uncommon piece for the 15 acres here and then he gave it to me.
When I come out of the military in 2005.
>> Okay. I’m not familiar with in common. Can you?
>> Well, when somebody owns land in common, so say you own 50 acres and there’s two people owns it. There’s no survey marks, it’s just owned in common. So, it’s not like he owns this piece, you own this piece.
You own it together, the whole thing.
>> Okay, all right. So, it says here looking at your records, you actually own 15 acres, but you also ran an additional 80.
>> So I have hay fields down Camp Creek Road onto Furnace Road which is right down here on the right.
And then Furnace Road is on the end of Camp Creek. You take a right and I have fields on there. And then I have another, the working farm that always own by Noya Grover which has 27 half 14 cows and it’s roughly 20 some acres.
>> Okay, what’s your main.
I guess product for lack of a better word.
>> The main source of income for the farm is, steers that we raise. We either buy them from the sale, or we buy them from a dairy, and bottle feed them, and then raise them out. And we take them to Whitfield, Virginia and sell them there.
This year it’ll be April first, is when I have 14, roughly eight to 900 pound steers, that are gonna whitful.
>> Okay, do you usually keep about that many in a cycle?
>> Yeah, it varies but would like to increase, but usually around that number, and that’s a yearly sale, so I usually turn them over about a year.
>> Okay, and the hay that you were referring to, is that really the only agricultural?
>> Yeah, well I grow produce also and sell eggs, but the hay is probably second in the source of income. So ourselves, a lot of it and I keep to feed my accounts.
>> Okay, and
>> Do round bales and support those.
>> What kinda produce.
>> We sell green onions. We’ve sold corn, watermelons. Just varies from every-
>> Papers, potatoes, peanuts.
>> It just varies, depends on what we feel like growing that year. We grow everything we can for ourselves and then we usually focus on one thing, in a bigger area that we wanna.
>> Okay, market wise for your eggs and for your produce, do you like to gotta certain areas? Or is it just, do you advertise?
>> Eggs are usually word of mouth I’ve been selling them so long people come to me, so they’re easily sold at my work, or here.
And the produce is usually sold at Jerry’s One Stop, which is right up the road here. It’s a service station. We usually don’t actually we never mess with farmers markets.
>> Okay, is there any reason why?
>> It’s too time consuming.
>> You get more money for your product, but it eats so much time up that you lose in the long run.
>> And really, there’s a lot of people that sell their items at the farmers market that are kinda they advertise it to the in such a way that is not really what it is. So, like where they would say this is organic, or they give their items from another grower So, that’s also another thing because the things that we sell are the things that we raise in.
I don’t know exactly how to explain.
>> So they say it’s local, but it isn’t?
>> I don’t know that for a fact, I just don’t mess with them.
>> All right, is farming part time?
>> It is?
>> Yeah my full time job?
>> I work at McGuire Nuclear Station.
>> Okay. That’s the one just outside Huntersville correct?
>> Okay And would be there.
>> I’m a planner, plan various jobs scopes for people to go work on equipment in the plant. I’m on see which is instrumentation and controls and electrical and electronic.
Plan or so.
>> Okay, and how long have you been with Goo.
>> 14 years 14, yeah.
>> Okay, was that pretty much right out of the military as well.
>> Yeah, they actually called me and from military, I flew in for interview and dress history, a hard man for that.
>> Okay, so how would you describe your average day?
I usually get done anywhere from probably around 7:30, I guess you’d say. About three hours, depending on what I have to do, but roughly three hours. Also, as you can see, we milk Nubian-goats, so.
>> I saw the goats coming in.
>> Well, those are my neighbors’.
>> Those are your neighbours’?
>> Mine are down there, yeah.
>> So it’s a fairly busy day, a lot of people wonder why I do it, it just becomes a part of you, I guess, it becomes ingrained in you. And you just don’t know any difference, I don’t know what I do, if I didn’t do that, so.
>> Did you grow up on the farm?
>> My great uncle is a biggest influence in farming. He actually worked, drive horses, and he did have some trackers, but he did a lot of horse work. Made a lot of hay, made hay everywhere, so I guess, he was a probably primer for me to get into farming.
My dad raised cows and we also showed quarter horses. So I’ve been around it my whole life, which the horse part never stuck, I guess, I mean, I can ride, and I can rope, and I can do all that stuff, but It just never appealed to me to stay in it.
Raising cows is what I took to you know and goats raising Western Nubians. I always had chickens, I can’t remember when I got first chick, my first chickens. Forever, I mean, I was young so, yeah, I’ve always done it.
>> All right, so you have busy days long days, Let’s talk a little about, some of the issues you’ve run across with farming, let’s start with say, weather conditions.
It’s been raining a lot lately,so how does a lot of wet weather affect things, how does dry weather affect things?
>> Well, farmers had the old saying, a dry season will worry you, a wet season will bankrupt you. So mainly for road cropping and grain farming, but with raising animals, it being this way, it’s not good at all.
So it’s more difficult to maneuver machinery around a farm, you tear out everything, you go across. The conditions, the animals are in, you always worrying about, because where cold conditions. Well, it can make them sick, it can cause disease to come in on a herd that’s vulnerable from poor conditions, it’s a battle.
Trying to stay ahead of the worms, the diseases, and trying to keep it somewhat manageable. I mean, this year and last year has been, nobody I’ve talked to, no matter what ages never remember as it being this way. So it’s been very difficult, especially the first of this year.
>> Okay, equipment, well, let me rephrase this, what have you found to be the biggest cost?
>> Well, your tractors are gonna be probably your biggest expense, if you’re big farming. And everything that you have to have to do it, maintaining is very expensive also because they’re diesel engines, they’re heavy built, everything is costly.
Maintenance is more, because diesel is, but it takes several tractors just to keep an operation going. So I would say tractors are definitely your biggest expense next to bailing equipment.
>> Okay, what about seed or feed cost, are they-
>> Well, I haven’t bought my fertilizer this year, so I can’t tell you about fertilizer cost yet.
Seed cost, I haven’t really bought any seed this year either. I mean, I can tell you that it’s been better in the last few years around 2017, it was, maybe. No, maybe it was further back than that, the dry season we had, I can’t remember when that was.
It might’ve been 2007, fertilizer was way higher, you remember when the gas got high, and everything got high?
>> Yeah. Fertilizer was ridiculous then, you couldn’t make any money, so from there to now, it’s really, it’s come back down, but it’s still not-
>> That was the year that we made 17 bales of hay from the front and the back.
>> Yeah, that was probably 2007.
>> I can’t remember, but anyway.
>> That entire season was-
>> It was a really dry year, but stuff receives, I have really increased in props due to technology also. See technologies through the rough, but you pay really dearly for it.
And they’ve actually patented seeds to where you cannot, even if you grow something on your land it’s not yours. You can’t take that seed and grow more plants from it, because it is patented. The technology is patented, so that’s considered the theft.
>> No, kind of wrong.
>> Yeah, yeah, corn long, you can’t grow corn from not GMO, you can’t grow GMO hybrid corn you grow, but you can’t soy beans.
And what you know, and I know on soybeans, that’s a big deal and there’s been farmers that’s been busted. And I’ve heard fines up to $80,000 on some of that stuff, they had to pay back the cost and fines on top of it.
>> And so it being, that’s pretty large crop industry around here, is it?
>> Yeah, Blanton Farms, I believe, was the one that, they actually took seeds from what they grew the year previous. And then they sold them, they sold that crop and they had to basically pay back the crop and fines on top of it.
>> Mm, I’m gonna pause it for just a second, we?
Okay, we are back. All right, let’s see here, what were we talking about last?
>> Seed technology.
>> Seed technology, that’s right, okay. What other kind of obstacles or challenges have you faced Well believe it or not, it’s more difficult for a farmer my size than a farmer that farms 10,000 acres.
Because the margins are so tight on your profit you can’t just, something breaks, go spend a bunch of money. You have to think outside the box sometimes on repairs. You have to a lot of stuff yourself, you have to learn. If you’re going to farm you got to be a somewhat of a scientist, you got to be a mechanic, you got to be a welder, electrician.
I wouldn’t say you gonna know all those aspect but you gotta know a little bit about everyone of them just enough to get by. So, it’s a rare occupation and a fact that how much you have to know in order to just succeed. And it’s hard for people my size because we can’t really stay up on the latest equipment.
We can’t buy bulk fertilizer, and seed, and save that extra money. It’s difficult and that’s why you really don’t see any small farms anymore. Because there’s not enough margin there for them to make a living. And that’s why anybody my size even up to two, 300 acres has a job and also farms.
>> Are the two or 300 acres, would you consider those medium size or are those still small?
>> Those still small farms of today’s standards.
>> Yeah, back many years ago I guess you’d say 40 acres was a small farm and two, 300 acres was a large farm.
But technology has changed with the equipment. And you can get over a lot more acres a lot faster now, You can harvest way more acres than you used to be able to. So in order to form machinery that it takes to do that you have to have 10,000 acres to make an income plus pay for all that stuff.
>> So, you don’t have any formal schooling for farming. It’s more something that you just learn by growing up in it, is that correct?
>> Yeah, I mean, you really don’t know what you learned, growing up, you just kinda remember, you know it. I mean, it’s hard for me to sit here and tell you, well, I learned this doing it with him, and I learned this with him.
It’s just stuff you pick up, and you learn from watching and listening to the old timers. And you learn by screwing stuff up and having to fix it. So making mistakes is probably one of the biggest teachers. But no I, no formal training and I just kind of learned as I went.
>> Okay, do you have you follow any kind of magazines or literature with latest techniques or information?
>> I’ll try to yeah, I read articles on the internet and I see some magazines. Of course I think the biggest source of information is talking to other farmers and because when you got a big group of people everybody tries something different at some point.
Well, that’s experience that you can take and keep for the future. So, I would say talking with older farmers and specially older ones are the biggest source of information.
>> Okay, that ties in nicely to what I was going to ask next. Which is do you belong to any kind of farming organizations or groups or a co-operative or anything like that?
>> No, no. Say I don’t grind farm or dairy farm, which we do have dairy goats, but that’s really small. So it’s not big enough that commercial. In order to get into those areas you have to be in an area that produces a lot of something or big enough that you can be in something like that like a coop.
So just an informal group of people was really the only thing we had, just other people doing the same thing that I am.
>> Do you, are you able to find any helps for information by say, county officials or-
>> Yeah, when I started using brewer grain I talked to the I don’t know, I guess she’s considered a field agent or state agent about it and storage methods of how I could install it and keep it for a longer term because it’s wet.
So, yeah I’ve used them, I’ve even had, I can’t remember his name, but had a guy who used to come out and sample my fields, soil samples.
>> Okay. They were pretty helpful and supportive?
>> Yeah. I mean, super nice, super helpful, those are good people. I’ve taken soil samples to the assistance center to have them shipped off.
I’ve asked questions there. And they always try to help you where they can. My experience has been with super nice people.
>> Okay. There’s been a lot of change just from what I’ve seen over the last ten, 15 years with farmings in farm land. Have you seen the same thing, and how would you describe it?
>> I would say a lot of the changes I’ve seen is farming, and farm lands in general, they’re becoming endangered. A lot of cookie cutter houses are being put up, neighborhoods It’s eating up a lot of farm land, and especially if you’re inside of an area that’s close to a big city like Charlotte.
I’ve seen just on Highway 73 how they’ve been creeping up with housing developments. And then of course, you’ve got the younger generation, you take people my age, I’m 38. You have several in there that want to farm and do stuff like that but then you jump down to people that’s maybe 20 it’s way less in that generation that wants to do it.
It’s hard work, it’s little pay, it’s long hours. And they just don’t see the sense of it. Why do this when you can just go to a store and buy what you need and sat on my backside for the rest of the time. You know, so. Yeah. It’s, I would say by the time I’m a old person, there’s probably going to be very few farms my size left.
>> Which do you think the greater threat, the lack of interest or the encroaching of the development?
>> I think it’s a combination of the two. People have lost most of what it takes to survive without an infrastructure like the grocery stores and the supermarkets, and so.
>> I think ignorance of what farming does for people and how it helps, and how it helps people think farming and environments.
But really, farming and environment’s good because you will not find a person more concerned about their land than a farmer. They always worry about what he’s putting this on, he’s putting that on it. Well, a farmer is gonna take care of his land better than anybody else, because his actual income comes from that ground.
So I think it’s a combination of both.
>> Do you do any organic farming, or do you try to-
>> No, no, I use chemical fertilizers. But I do feed, I guess you would consider it, well, I can’t say for a fact it’s organic, the grain, because I don’t know the other farms it comes from.
I know one brewery I pick up from is organic, their farms. But the other two that I pick up from, I can’t speak to. So I know one-third of it is organic that I feed, but as far as my fields and stuff, I use chemical fertilizers.
>> And we don’t advertise as organic.
>> Okay, no, I was just asking. I wasn’t sure if it was strictly organic or if you were just trying to be as organic as you could.
>> I try to be, and I use a lot of the old ways. I take all the manure from the cows and the hay wastage and that gets put back on the fields.
And the chicken houses get cleaned out, and that gets back on the fields, and same with the goat lots. So I try to use as much, I guess you would call it organic fertilizers. I can, but there’s just not enough with the number of animals I have to cover 80 acres of land.
So if I could use chicken litter, that would be great. But there you go again, the chicken litter, it might not be organic. Well, more than likely it’s not, because the feed ate chickens was commercially grown. And I can about assure you it’s not, because they’re gonna buy from the cheapest they can get in order to make a profit with their chickens.
So it’s hard to do organic. I don’t know anybody around here that’s 100% organic, but that doesn’t mean they’re not, I just don’t know of any.
>> Okay, is there a core group of farmers that you like to go to if you have questions?
>> Yeah, there’s two older gentlemen that I usually go to for questions and stuff.
They more than likely have seen a lot more. They’ve seen many situations I have yet to encounter. They’re twice my, well, not quite twice my age, but they’re a good bit older than me. So I try to always go to the people who’s been doing it a lot longer than I have to get some information about what could happen, what’s going on, what’s happening, sick cows or feeding rations, stuff like that.
>> Again? Okay, now we’re back. So in your experience so far, are there any interesting or funny stories that you might be able to share?
>> Golly, I’ll tell you, if you would have asked me that, I probably would. [LAUGH] But-
>> What was the question?
>> On the spot, I can’t really think of one.
>> If there were any interesting or funny stories to tell in the time that you’ve had a farm.
>> Well, I can tell you one thing. We actually was building a loft for that barn when a tornado actually come by the front of our house sideways. It was spinning.
The tail wasn’t down on the ground. And I actually wrote that in the loft. I forget what year that was but-
>> My stepdad was building the loft. Yeah, me and him was doing it.
>> And a tornado went through.
>> Yeah, it was like sideways, it was crazy, it was spinning.
>> It was coming from here.
>> It was spinning but it was like this in the air. And so it went down the road, maybe I think it was eight or nine miles and touched down, and destroyed all kinda stuff in Huntersville. Man, I tell you it was, [LAUGH] it’s hard to on the spot to think of stuff.
>> Well, have you been surprised by say, how successful some things were, or maybe not as successful as you were hoping, whether it’s a crop or some kind of livestock?
>> Well, one thing that does surprise me is, like I said, I take my cows to Whitfield, Virginia every year.
And [COUGH] they’re the ones that are fairly good size, they seem to. When a cow gets up to a certain weight, it will actually drop in prosper pound because it’s one, they’re looking for grazing stock, which is a certain target weight. And two, it’s just gonna be less cuz the margin another farmer could buy that cow, and make money off of it, or steer, excuse me, is really small, right?
So if you buy a 900 pounds steer, at that point they’re really growing a lot slower. So you’d be crazy to buy a 900 pound steer out of a feed lot like I have and put it on grass. You might get 2, 300 more pounds in a season and you have no money.
So the short ones, like the ones that, I’ve always got two or three that are smaller. And some are like way smaller, and I can’t tell you why, if it’s genetics or whatever from the dairy farms I buy from. But there’s always two or three. And it never fails that these cows are all the same, steers, are all the same age.
Those little ones, that they not perform well at all at my place will bring way more money in Virginia because they’re smaller. Yeah, it always surprises me. I’m like, these are low performance steers, and you would think people wouldn’t. You see a group of steers come in, nine times out of ten, they’ve been raised together.
So, I always found that interesting that I would get way more money for those. And they’re probably not gonna grow worth a hill of beans, so.
>> Now, how did you start going with Whitfield? Is that like a center for the cattle trade or?
>> It’s a good hub to sell.
>> Anything from, it’s really good if you’ve got 5, 600 pound steers, because it’s a mountainous region. They don’t really have a lot of road crop, they pasture raise a lot of beef. So they’re looking for 5, 6, 700 pound steers, to put out there and graze for a season, and then take them to sell and make a little money.
But it’s also a good place to take 900 pound steers to get them up north. Where your big feed lot or meat producers will have buyers. So those will more than likely go, they might go to a finishing lot to just pack on it. You can’t put them on a finishing lot pack on a couple more hundred pounds in a month or two or three and then take them to the processor or they might go straight to processor.
So it seems like the more north you get, the better price you usually get.
>> Okay, what about going farther west or south, have you heard anything?
>> South, you don’t wanna go south, cuz if you listen to people nationally, when they talk about cheap cows, cheap steers, they’re talking southeast.
I don’t know why. I think a lot of it might have to do with, well, I don’t know why. But we’re always considered cheap cows or steers in this area. So if you take them out west you’re not really going to, Make what you would shipping them. You know what I mean?
I forget how many it takes to fill a tractor trailer but by the time you pay a driver and you send them out there your margin’s about eat up. And like I said, we’re considered cheap on cows or steers in this area, so as soon as they find out where they’re coming from, they’re not gonna be paying the price that you want.
So you’ll do better going north.
>> Okay. So going forward, and this is kind of a three-part question, but it’s easy to remember. So where do you see this farm in 5 years, 10 years, and then 20?
>> Five years, I hope to continue to grow. I’ve got two young boys that I hope to see start coming into it.
In five years, Joseph will be well old enough to start handling machinery. He’ll be big enough to start handling hay, which he is now, really I mean, he can handle hay now but he’ll be very proficient at it by then. Ten years, I hope to be where I need to be as far as size for me to start easing out of the operation.
Because in 20 years I hope to see them take over what I’ve built here. And if they wanna grow it from there that’s up to them, but at a minimum I’d like to see them run it. If not, I guess when I die they’ll have a bunch of stuff to sell.
>> Hopefully they won’t have the same mentality that most kids that inherit farms have because really that sense of ownership and pride that our older generations like our grandparents had is not really existent. But there is a very clear difference between our kids’ views and opinion of things versus their friends maybe that don’t live on a farm.
So that’s always interesting to me to see because kids they’ll just tell you how it is, but-
>> Well, to get to where I’m at now in 14 years, I pretty well had to scratch, claw and dig for everything I had. So my biggest goal was to turn something over to them that will make money for them and they won’t have to dig as hard as I did.
It’s kind of like a baby starting to walk. You crawl, them first few years you’re crawling, and it just creeps. It’s like, I gotta have money for this, gotta have money for this, you gotta say, well, what’s more important? Do I want a tractor or do I want a skid steer?
Do I need a loader, do I need a newer baler? And then, in ten years, you’re like, well, I really need more land cuz I got all this equipment, so you start picking up more land. And so at, say, 10 years, which is the mark I’m around at 14, 15 years, I’m starting to really see it as far as my margins there, my profitability’s there, my equipment has really come a long ways.
I’ve got a newer loader tractor, I say newer, but it’s 2008. So to me, that’s a newer tractor. I got a good loader. I’ve got the basic essentials I need to operate my operation. So I’m hoping 20 years from now, Bigger, hopefully I’d like to double basically what I’m doing, and then-
>> Double your acreage?
>> Double my profit.
>> Profit, okay.
>> Yeah, 80 acres is pretty good. 80 acres, I can push out a lot more cows or steers than I’m pushing out now. So I really don’t think I need to get a whole lot more land. I’m probably good on land.
Facilities I need to upgrade. I really need a freestyle barn. So that’s something we’re gonna look at in the future. I got about five acres in the back that’s really relatively flat so we’re looking at some kind of infrastructure there, a type of feed lot to get them away from the house.
It’s never been a problem till this year. It’s just been a ridiculously wet season, and last year was a wet season. So it’s try to control erosion and try to control the smell, get them back. So that would be a goal I’d like to see in the future.
>> Okay, have any of your other farming friends, mentors, have they mentioned anything about the younger generation in their families?
>> Pretty well nonexistent as far as farming. I really can’t tell you last time I seen a kid that was 18, 20 years old. I mean, I’m sure they’re out there.
Just me personally, I haven’t seen that kid 18, 20 years old with an interest in farming.
>> All right, are there any questions that you feel I should ask? Or is there any additional thoughts that you have that you’d like to share that, say, you want other people to know about the farming?
>> Well, I would say farming, most people who farm, their personality, I mean, I’m this way, but a lot of people who farm they’re like this. They’re kind of closed loop. They don’t really get out in the groups like you’re talking about. But really the only reason that I’m still in business today and really more profitable than I’ve ever been in my life is because I actually started reaching out and talking to other farmers.
I got into a small group of farmers that through talking to them that I can get spent grain from breweries in Charlotte, which is awesome because the price is just phenomenal and the availability is really good. And so I wouldn’t be in business today and still going like I am, if it wasn’t for that fact.
So if I could share anything with somebody or give them advice I would say get out there, talk to people that are your size farming
>> Because talking to big farmers are really not gonna get you anywhere. Most big farmers ain’t gonna give you time of day. They think you’re not worth the time or effort because you’re so small.
And believe it or not, there is a hierarchy in farming, so the big boys don’t usually talk to the little boys. So, you need to find people that’s relative to your size, that’s been doing what you wanna do for a long time and just soak in as much knowledge as you can, because the more you learn the less mistakes you’ll make and the more money you’ll make.
>> Alright, very good. Those are all the questions I have for you at the moment. So with that, I thank you for your time. I appreciate it. If there’s anything you’d like to share later on, just feel free to reach out to me.
>> I totally forgot to mention that his wife is extremely understanding of his time needs at the farm, you left that out.
>> Okay. [LAUGH] Well no.
>> That’s okay.
>> I know it’s in there now.
>> It is.
>> It’s in the archives.
>> I think you raise a fair point, and if you’re willing for me to ask?
>> Did you grow up on a farm or
>> I did not grow up on a farm.
>> So, how have you adjusted to living on one?
>> Well now at this point, I don’t do much with the farm at all. But before this point, up until probably two years ago, I would go out there in the morning and he would be at work.
I would bottle feed all of the calves. He would bottle feed them in the evening time, because they needed to be feed two times a day. Any of the births that were happening on the farm, if he was at work, somebody needed to be, since I was home it made it more, what is the word?
>> Well you was here, so you took care of a lot of stuff while I was working.
>> And you have to have somebody here, if you’re gonna probably feeds calves, or you’re gonna have goats that have babies. If you’re raising them, you’re gonna need to have somebody home the majority of the time.
Cuz stuff can go wrong fast.
>> Really fast.
>> And they can be over before you can deal with it.
>> Well there have been several times to where we’ll be down at the barn, and Willow was six and a half her baby, and he had to go run down there because she couldn’t fish her baby out.
So he had to pull the baby out, where had he not been here, we would have lost the baby for sure. With a high potential to have lost the mom also. So those things that require direct attention, it’s really good to have that I was home and able to do that.
Cuz it does take a lot of his time. He goes to work full time, comes home, eats dinner, and is down at the barn.
>> In summertime, it’s work till usually after dark, I mean [COUGH] usually 9:30, 10 o’clock, I mean. Cuz you’re doing hayseeds, and you’re planting, or you’re doing tailage, trying to get if you’re wanting to do sudex, or rye, or millet.
I mean, those are all summer grasses that you realm June, first of May is Starsky and hop and that’s when high season comes in. And I don’t really stop until about September.
>> In the boys, the last two years the boys have really drastically been huge helps on the farm, Joseph could run this entire operation.
He has really learned a lot, wouldn’t you say?
>> Yeah, he’s come on a long way.
>> He drives the truck while we get hay. He drives the truck around with the trailer on it.
>> He learned to drive the druck in my hay fields.
>> Yeah, he can feed all of the animals, he can water all the animals He can give direction to Hannah of things that need to be done, which is really a great help for them, because Joseph is only 11.
So, probably for the last two years, he’s been like not since he was nine been able to really do anything that was needed to be done.
>> And Hunter, the youngest one he gathers eggs, cleans them and packages them for sale. So, he’s involved also. Joseph takes care of the livestock guardian animals, the dogs.
And he helps with all the chores. So, I’m getting older and slower. I’m not that old, I’m 38 but I’m definitely not 20 any more I can feel that. So, it’s natural and it works out about right that your kids start coming on about time you start going down.
So, [LAUGH] I can tell they’re really taking up my slack.
>> Was there anything else you’d like to share about being the life of a farmer?
>> We ain’t get vacation much.
>> Right, that is a frustration. And I think that if it weren’t for the fact that we have the four great pyrenees, we have four great livestock, our dogs.
And it’s not that they’re not the friendliest thing, cuz they’re not unfriendly. But they’re bred to be, livestock guard dogs. So, it’s difficult to find people that they will accept to feed them because they’re.
>> They’re really big.
>> Duke is like 180 pounds and his legs are like three feet long.
He’s a monster. They’re really big, and so before we had them, it wasn’t very difficult to find people to feed up with this. Because we just had cows, and the goats, and they could just go in there, and it wasn’t a big problem. But they’re not letting nobody in there.
So now, they’re very intimidating, and it’s difficult to find people so that we can people to watch them so that we can go on vacation. It’s pretty much all I have. And I’m like a good wife for doing all that, cuz I wasn’t raised on a farm. You can second that.
>> Yeah, you’ve done well adjusting to the situation. [LAUGH]
>> All right [LAUGH] well I appreciate you both, let me go ahead and,
>> I do have one more thing to say.
>> And this is actually really serious thing, I think that it is really interesting for the amount of food contamination issues that are all in the supermarkets, and recalls, and all of those types of things.
There are certain people that have the mindset that, like his mother, I will not eat food unless it comes out of a Saran Wrap package from the store. And a lot of people have that, if it comes if there’s eggs coming from my barn, they’re different from the eggs that come from the grocery store.
Do you understand what I’m saying?
>> A little bit.
>> People have that opinion, that they are not the same eggs.
>> Does that make sense?
>> Because they’re so accustomed to seeing it in the package.
>> Right, it’s like a huge disconnect between, where you’re food actually comes from versus a farm that raises cows, that butchers their cows, takes them to packaging and they’re in this white packaged wrap, versus gonna the store where it’s in that styrofoam thing, with that little pad and then the cellophane around it.
There’s a huge disconnect where really it’s the same thing, but one just skips all of that middle man mess and whatever they do to it. And then it’s just.
>> Well I think ours is better. I think it’s better really.
>> Well, I mean it is, that’s what I’m saying.
But there’s like a disconnect of people that I think, that if it doesn’t come from a grocery store, then it’s of different quality.
>> You can take a farm raised look like small farm raised beef or eggs. They’re always going to be more flavor and richer because, small farms will take care of the animals better and they’ll get more foof, they usually have more space.
So, overall just better conditions. So that’s the difference, I mean that’s why when you crack an egg open from a local farmer it’s like almost orange. It’s so rich, the yolk, and when you eat beef from a local farmer and it’s got more robust taste and it’s got less fat, it’s because the cow was fed better.
Commercial is all about the cheapest, farmers, so that’s the exact opposite of what is small farms are
>> What is your opinion on the farm to pork restaurants that are popping up
>> I think it’s awesome, I think it’s great you know one of the people in my group they actually are hooked up now with a brewery, and they’re producing the beef for them to cook on the grill, so it’s awesome.
And that’s beef that was raised from their spent grain, so there’s no waste, I mean it’s very sustainable. People’s not gonna stop drinking beer, that’s out. So, you’re always gonna have fade and so that they get one that for the bear microprocessor 100% gets used everything, the cow makes meat, meat gets eaten so
>> Well and really the cycle is even more fine tuned in that, so they we’re uses the grain, the cows eat the grain, the chicken scratch the grain. Or is there, through their poop, the chickens eat the gray nuts not digested through that. And then the chickens are also getting fed, so it’s really like a multilevel system.
Right, that was smart what I just said
Okay, all right, any last comments or questions?
>> It was great, I enjoyed it. Thank you for coming.
>> Thank you much.