Monthly Archives: March 2012

Hands of a Farmer: William P. “Billy” Hallman



An interview submitted by Cara Scogin Olson, of her granddaddy, William P. “Billy” Hallman: A man who is washed by the blood of the lamb, and is living proof of the abundant grace given by God.

Involvement in Agriculture: “We’ve always been involved in agriculture. I was born in 1917. When I was a child, just a little boy, we picked cotton on our farm in Grandview. Dad had a cotton gin. We had 5 or 6 Jersey cattle. My brother, LeRoy and I milked cattle all the time. We’d milk that many, you know. We’d bottle the milk, and then deliver to people’s houses. Some people wanted pints, some wanted quarts, you know. One time, we made chocolate milk, half pints, and ooh, it was good milk. We’d buy Hersey’s chocolate syrup; buy it by the gallon jug. You’d just add to it what you’d need, and pour it in the little half-pint bottles. We’d sell them to the café’s for a nickel and they sold them for a dime. During the depression, Leroy and I would pop popcorn and sell it at the rodeo. At the end of the night, LeRoy and I would go into the bathroom and lock the door, and sit on the floor and count all of the nickels and dimes we made. We could make more money than a grown man with a week’s wages sometimes at those rodeos, popping popcorn. Later on, I went to school at the University of Texas in Austin and graduated with a business degree in 1938. I got a job over here in the Court House in Cleburne on the 1st of January, 1939. Stayed here three years and worked in the tax office. That’s of course, where I met Momma. The first time I saw her, she was sitting on top of a desk with her legs crossed and I thought those legs were the most beautiful legs I had ever seen. I said hello and learned her name was Ida Ruth James. I went home that day and told my mother that I was going to marry Ida Ruth and of course, we did marry two years later in 1941. But I guess that’s beside the point. We moved up to Amarillo, after we were married. That Amarillo job was a land job, see, with the Oil Development Company, a division of Santa Fe. We had thousands of acres, or I don’t know how many there were, but most of them were wheat or corn and we got a 1/3 of everything and keep all of the minerals, and then would sell the land for Santa Fe. Santa Fe owned barrels of money up there; no telling how much. Did that for about a year, and then came back and worked for Trader’s Oil Mill out of Fort Worth. Trader’s Oil Mill bought cottonseed all over the country. Manufactured the oil, and pressed the oil out of it and used it for cattle feed… you know what cottonseed cake is, don’t you? It’s just cottonseed meal cake. They press all of the oil out of the seed and then they take the seed and grind it up into meal; had the consistency of flour, what it was. It was good. They would make ProFlo; protein flour made from cottonseed meal. I sold that darn stuff out as far as Atlanta, Georgia, and let’s see, North Carolina, and I’d be gone about three weeks on those trips. After about a year for working for Trader’s Oil Mill, I entered the service for WWII, as Lieutenant JG Officer of an LST Naval ship. After the war in 1946, I came back to work for Trader’s Oil Mill, and then got a job with National Cash Registry, selling accounting machines. That was a good job. I quit that to start my office supply business I had here in Cleburne, TX and had Hallman Office Supply until I retired in ‘68. First Angus Cattle I ever bought were in 1967. We had Angus cattle and cut and sold Coastal Bermuda hay up until we finally sold out of all of the registered Angus in the mid 90’s. My son, Jim and I still have Coastal Bermuda hay that we sell on our farm here, south of Cleburne.

We’ve had a good life, we’ve enjoyed it… I’ve had a great life, myself, personally. I mean, I’m just thinking about Momma, with her, that’s been the best part of it. 70 years; I can’t believe that. Very blessed in many, many ways, and I’m grateful for it.”

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: “And the worst time; I don’t know when that would be. I imagine the worst time would be this dern drought we had this last year, summer 2011. By far the worst time, because hay was so high, and we didn’t make a bale of hay. It was a hard time for a lot of people.”

Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture: “In 1969, we drove down to a ranch in Grandview, drove in on top of hill and you could see the whole darn ranch from that hill. Prettiest ranch you ever saw. All 738 acres of solid Coastal Bermuda pasture, divided up into 12 pastures, and every one of them had water in it. I just knew I had to have it. So my brother, Leroy and I bought it together. Put some good registered Angus cattle on it and then sold out in 1980. But that day on that hill was probably the happiest memory in my farm life.”

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Hands of a Farmer: Gina Kelly Ellis

Gina Kelly Ellis“The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the strength of a woman is measured by the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate her and who she becomes.”    ―      C. JoyBell C.

Name:  Gina Kelly Ellis    Age:  56

What Is Your Involvement In Agriculture? I have been involved in agriculture as long as I can remember. First moving pipe, hoeing and driving the tractor on my daddy’s farm. Then, later as a farm wife raising a family to love the farm life and all that it represents. My children, Kristy and Kyle were both raised to love the farm and to work on the farm.

What has been your most difficult moment in agricululture?  My most difficult moment in agriculture is also my story. In July of 2000, my husband, Mike and my daughter, Kristy and I were at the lake taking a few days off for the holiday weekend. My 20 year-old son had stayed home to watch the irrigation systems. On July 1st, My husband and friends were on the lake on Jet-Ski’s when his was suddenly struck. He never regained consciousness. We spent the next couple of days in the hospital watching drips and monitors and then finally, signing organ donation papers. I walked into that hospital on July 1st a farmer’s wife. I walked out on July 4th, the farmer. My son, Kyle was immediately made a man as he stepped into his dad’s very large shoes. He has been my rock since that day. I have been amazed at how much he had learned from his dad in such a short time.

This truly was my most difficult moment in agriculture and today, nearly12 years later, through hail and winds and drought and price drops, I recognize that the God who carried me through the worst of times is the same God as the One who carries me through all the other trials on the farm and in life.

What has been your most joyous moment in agriculture?  It is so hard to point to one moment as the most joyous. Life on the farm is so wonderful, even when things are not good. After Mike was gone, my task on the farm became managing the cattle operation while Kyle managed the row crops. There were wonderful days, when I would sit on the fence and just watch the black cows in the wheat and think about how gorgeous a sight it was. Those cattle became my therapy! There was that one year when the cotton just turned snow white and we couldn’t believe the yield! There were precious times shared with my son and daughter on the farm. There were those wonderful days of spending time with Mike’s granddad who had broken that very land out with 2 mules and a plow! Listening to his stories. Refereeing the “discussions” between this 90 year old and this 20 year old as they decided whose way would work best on the farm. Our mantra became, “What Would Mike Do?”

Watching my two grandsons who never got to meet their granddad, Mike. Watching them as they run and play on the farm or ride the tractor with Kyle. I can watch them and just imagine the joy Mike would have gotten from this. The joy of watching my son, who looks so like his dad, on the farm is certainly at the top of the list.

A Little Promotion for a food cause never hurt! HOAF has been out of touch with technology for a weekend…we are back and should have more fascinating content up soon…in the meantime, figure out what you plan to do to help the Ag Development Committee, gentlemen get ready for a day of horses and racing, and get your Derby Hats ready ladies!

Hands of a Farmer: Wayne Cheney

Sometimes, opportunities come along that spellbind us, change the way we look at life and agriculture, and enrich our lives beyond measure.  Today, we honor Wayne Cheney.  A strong man who is a great depression survivor, WWII Navy Vet, former farmer, former ag teacher, proud husband, father, grandfather, and great grandfather.  59 years of marriage, 85 years of agriculture, and our first video submission.  Thanks to Brandon and Sheila Williamson for submitting this video.  Keep in mind, Mr. Cheney is in a hospital bed only because he was about to go into surgery.  He is fine, and should be back to himself in no time! I love the impromptu discussion that breaks out after our typical questions have been asked!  What a pioneer for agriculture! Below the video is a personal note from the Williamson family.

Tonight’s post has a dual purpose.  As always HOAF seeks to share the stories of the American Agriculturist, however this post has special meaning to us.  We post it as a continual legacy to the wonderful man we know as “Pappa” in hopes that one day my two year old son, Blake, can look back at the wonderful example of Christian leadership, hard work, and fatherly love portrayed by his Great-grandfather, Wayne Cheney.

-With love, Brandon and Sheila Williamson

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Hands of Farmer: Denver Kelly

The passion for agriculture often comes from the elders who came before us.  Tonight’s featured farmer is a prime example of that concept.  Tonight’s featured farmer:  Denver Kelly

Hands Pictured Above:  Denver Kelly  Age: Would be 102, Died at 99

Involvement In Agriculture:  The land my great-grandson now farms, I broke out with two mules and a plow. I farmed actively until I was 97 years old, even hoeing in the fields in the heat of the day. I never wanted to leave the farm. It was my life.

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture:  In over 80 years of being involved in agriculture, it would be hard to point to a most difficult moment. Perhaps, the years of the dust bowl, or the depression, or the years of failed crops, the years of barely making it. The year I lost my daughter to cancer. The year I lost my young great-grandson to a drunk driver, or the year I lost my right hand man, my grandson Mike who farmed along side me for over 25 years.

Most Joyus Moment in Agriculture:  Rising up each day, knowing the farm was my world brought me the most joy a man could experience. Watching 80 years of seed be planted and harvested. Each day in farming is the most joyous ever, no matter what the weather or the market is doing. When the dirt is under your fingernails at the end of the day, you know you have been with God.

Hands of a Farmer: Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones

Whitney Jones

Agriculture is certainly generational.  Tonight’s featured farmer proves that Agvocacy is as well!  Everyone welcome Whitney Jones.

Hands Pictured Above: Whitney Jones  Age: 29

Involvement in Agriculture: I attended my first pig sale at 10 days old. It’s pretty much history after that. My daddy was in 4-H and FFA and it was only natural that I follow suit. I showed, I competed, I spoke, I served as an officer and, most of all, I learned. I learned what it means to have pride in what you do. I learned that without hard work, success means nothing. I learned that unless you want to be hungry and naked, you better take notice of agriculture. My degree is in ag. ed, and even though I teach English, I still strongly support the agricultural community. My daddy still raises show pigs and I still help out every chance I get. I also am fortunate enough to teach in a school and community where agriculture and agricultural education is fostered. I teach seniors so I take special pride in helping prepare them for the future. I direct 90% of my students to major in something ag related.I tell them it doesn’t matter what school they go to, the ag department will be the most helpful, most welcominig department of them all. Ag people are universal. We hold the same moral standards, the same love of people and the inborn ability to nurture those around us. I know that by sending my students into an ag related major I am setting them up for success, opportunity.

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: The day I had to hang up my blue and gold jacket for the last time was one of the saddest days for me. I was never someone who hated Official Dress. I remember distinctly the feeling I had when I first slipped my blue and gold jacket on. An overwhelming sense of pride washed over me as I reflected on all who had worn the colors of the FFA before me. Deep stuff for a 9th grader, but, man, I loved that jacket. When I had to hang it up for the last time, my heart broke a little. Maybe I didn’t realize when I hung it up that day that I would never wear it again, but days or weeks later it set in. I was no longer a current FFA member, I was now a former member. The same feelings hit when I ended my career as a 4-H member. My last State Round-up was bittersweet. I was proud of all I had learned and accomplished, but this part of my life was over. In fact, I remember calling my dad from my dorm my first week at college and asking him if he would buy me a steer. He didn’t tell me no right away…he missed 4-H and FFA as much as I did…it was hard on all of us to move on. My parents and I often spent more time at the barn or on the road for an event than we did at home. The greatest lessons I learned were taught to me in a showbarn and the best conversations I had with my parents were often held as we traveled the wee hours of the morning to a stockshow or competition. We all three felt a giant void when my days of blue and gold and clovers were done.

Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture: My most joyous moments in agriculture have always involved my daddy. I remember playing in the sand at stockshows long before I was able to show. He worked hard to instill a love of agriculture in me and he did a good job of it. My parents were at every event I entered, at every contest I competed in and they cheered me when I did well and dried my tears when I didn’t. Maybe this is why agriculture has always been synonymous with the word “family.” I firmly believe that one of the big reasons I didn’t get into trouble or get sucked into the wrong crowd as a youngster is because of agricultural organizations and the influence they had on my family. I didn’t have time to get into trouble (well, other than showbarn pranks…) because I was always busy. My parents always knew what I was doing and who I was doing it with. I became a responsible young adult because from a young age I knew what it meant to put something else’s needs before your own. When we were at a show, it was simply understood that no one ate or rested until the animals were fed and cared for. They came first. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my stockshow days were preparing me for motherhood. Being a mom has been my greatest adventure and though it hasn’t always been easy, putting my son’s needs ahead of my own is not a struggle for me. I get giddy at the thought of my son being involved in agriculture. He can be anything he wants to be, and I want him to know that I’ll always support him, but I also want him to develop a love of agriculture just as my parents did for me.

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