Nothing Says Farming Like Family

carroll smith
Carroll Smith

When a new baby comes into the world, everyone scrutinizes each little detail to see what has been passed down from one generation to the next.[adinser[

Does the child have Daddy’s eyes or maybe Mama’s big smile? Feel the grip of these strong fingers. Gonna be a good cotton picker driver!

As the years go by, assessing physical attributes gives way to observing behavioral traits. Farming families typically try to instill their values and work ethic into the children. They lead by example and hope that their actions are picked up and carried on. It’s also fun to see kids do the same things their parents did without any knowledge that they are bringing back precious memories for the older generation.

In this month’s My Turn column, Tennessee cotton specialist Tyson Raper recalls “farming a thousand acres of everything” with a toy 4000 series 1/16 John Deere tractor on the living room carpet in his childhood home in Spring Villa, Alabama. Today, he takes pleasure in watching his son, Anderson, and daughter Caroline, plow up the rug in Jackson, Tennessee. The toy was passed down, and Raper’s children instinctively knew what to do with it.

Our January cover story celebrates Louisiana cotton farmer Jay Hardwick being chosen as Field to Market’s 2018 Farmer of the Year. Jay and his wife, Mary, take great pride in making sure that Somerset Plantation balances the needs of agriculture with the needs of the land.

The property, which dates back to 1814, provides crucial habitat for the Louisiana black bear and other wildlife and a fertile venue for the family’s successful farming operation.

Today, the Hardwicks’ sons, Marshall and Mead, have joined their father in farming the land. Jay, who is a huge proponent of sustainability, asks himself, “Have they bought into this? Is this something that will continue to go on and they’ll improve upon? I hope so.” And if you pose the question to the boys, they both agree that they have.

I think the bottom line is that farming is a generational thing — a family thing. Raper says he isn’t sure why he fell in love with agriculture at a young age. Maybe all of the ingredients were present…his grandparents’ gardens and his Dad’s hard work as an ag engineer with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Just ask anybody in the business. Nothing says farming like family.

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