Category Archives: FFA

Hands of a 5th generation farmer: Scott Stedje

Name: Scott Stedje
Age: 33
Involvement in Agriculture: Last year my family celebrated 100 years of farming and ranching. I am the 5th generation to farm and the 4th to live in my house. Not only do we farm cotton, wheat and corn but also run yearling cattle and cow/calf pairs in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. I live in a small Norwegian community north of Gruver, TX called Oslo. For some crazy reason my family sold land in Iowa and moved down to the wide open spaces and break out farm land; land that was said to be unfit for human life in a report sent to the President of the United States at the time.
My grandfather had two brothers and during WWII they drew straws to see which two would go to war and who would stay home- and we wonder why they were called the greatest generation. My grandfather drew short straw and he stayed as the other two went to war. One brother was KIA in war and the other came back after it was over.
Another crazy idea they had was to drill water wells and irrigate farm. So this is why I spend hours working on sprinklers and irrigation motors.
What is Your Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: This is a loaded question because we all know there are discomforts in agriculture. Droughts, bug infestations, and the rising cost of equipment and inputs are just part of the game. Last year we had 3.29 inches of moisture and this year we have had .02. So I am not sure if I have had my most difficult moment, Lord I HOPE SO. 2011 will go down as the worst year farming since my great-great grandfather Stedje. We have no dryland crop, the pasture country never turned green and we could not keep irrigated crops from burning up from heat and wind. We all lost a lot of equity and banks started using a 4 letter word that is a little longer than four, Liquidity. But just like every other farmer, we pray for moisture and prepare to give them hell in 2012.
Another difficult moment was I had to take over the farm when I was a Jr. in college. My father made me pay for my own college so that means I was broke just like 90% of all other college students. The day before he passed away, December 23, I had given plasma to have enough money to go to penny beer. Boy is college rough. A week later, I remember sitting down and paying end of year bills. I broke down and cried like a little girl because I have never seen numbers that used that many commas. My family pushed me to graduate and 1 ½ years, later my uncle came up and handed me a check to pay off student loans. He said as he gave me the check “This is what our family does, your father would have paid off your college just as his father did when he graduated.
What has been you most joyous moment in Agriculture: I find joy when I wake up and look across the open prairie and see a momma cow drop a calf out; to smell the moisture in the air and know God is sending rain; to walk out into my field and pick sweet corn for super. Things move a heck of a lot faster now, but also a heck of a lot slower than other parts of the country. In the winter 2007/2008 we had 4 inch rain and then a foot of snow, good wet snow and stayed white till spring. I hit my first “home run” that summer; we averaged 66 bushels on dryland and 74 on irrigated. The original Stedje section 93, a dryland farm, did 83 bushels across the entire 640 acres. It was a great feeling knowing I was feeding more people than I ever had.

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Hands of a Farmer: Thomas Epting

Name: Thomas Epting   Age: 26
What is your involvement in agriculture: I teach agriculture science in a far West Texas town where each day seems to move at a pace that reminds me to enjoy God’s gifts and blessings.

I have been involved in some form of agriculture my entire life. I was fortunate enough to be raised on a 365 acre piece of land that has been in my family for more than 150 years and has been used for production agriculture the entire time. I have seen the area around my families land turn from fields of grain and pastures full of fat calves running around, into gated communities, apartment complexes and one acre ʺranchettsʺ.

I decided while in high school to become an agriculture science teacher because I understand that the majority of the population has little to no knowledge of where their food and fiber come from and I want them to! My mission is to give students the gift of knowledge about agriculture, and also to become great leaders who work hard, are ethical, fair, and honest in their life.
What has been your most difficult moment in agriculture: My most difficult moment in agriculture has been the death of my mom in August of 2002. I lost someone who was very important to me. After she passed away, I kept looking back at my past and I was angry. In my mind, I was at a stock show every time I got bad news about my mom and her fight with a horrible disease. From the time she got sick until she died, I felt like if I hadn’t been at a stock show, I could have been helping her fight. So I lost my passion for agriculture and what I was doing in it, I lost my goals. But with the support of my family and with God, I was eventually able to pick myslef up and get back into the way of life that I knew I was meant to live, and the way of life I had dreamed of.

What is your most joyous moment in agriculture: Like a lot of others, I have experienced several joyous moments in agriculture. One is know that I help provide opportunities for students to learn about the greatest industry of all and expressing that it is a great way to live. Others included knowing that every morning when I wake up, drink my coffee and listen to the sounds that God gives us, I am going to have a great day. The experiences in agriculture have taught me to work efficently, be independent and to live my life so the preacher doesnt have to lie at my funeral.

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strenghten you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


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: 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 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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The Hands of a Wyoming Farmer: Brian Cox

Our first Out of State Post. Proving that farmers hands have to wear many different gloves.  From welding, to gardening, and weaning to greasing gears, farmers duties are varied and many.  Everyone welcome Brian Cox!

Hands Pictured Above: Brian Cox  Age: 29

Involvement in Agriculture: My involvement in agriculture is teaching high school Agriculture Science in Pine Bluffs, WY. I teach agriculture classes to students grades 7-12 as well as high school courses in horticulture and welding. When I was a child I had thousands of acres of imaginary fields that I tended to with my toy tractors, I knew that someday I wanted to be involved in agriculture. I started out showing pigs then later sheep at my county fairs then when I was in high school I joined the FFA. I enjoyed the program so much and it took me so many places that I decided there was no better way to become involved in agriculture and be a better advocate for the agriculture then to teach the future generations about what agriculture really is! On the production side my family also raises show lambs for FFA and 4-H members to exhibit at county and state fairs s as well as a few major shows.

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: Luckily for me not being involved in the production side of agriculture all of the highs and lows do not always affect me, but the most difficult time in agriculture that I have been a part of was this fall when the U.S. Department of Labor put tough regulations on what “Farm Kids” Could do. This could be potentially devastating to many family farms because the wording is unclear! I teach in a small town on the Wyoming, Nebraska, and Colorado border where nearly every person is involved in the agriculture industry or the oil and wind energy industry. With the tough regulations my students would not be able to operate any machinery on farms, show any type of breeding animal, vaccinate or treat any injured or sick animals, or work in any type of agriculture related jobs. Farm kids are taught work ethics, responsibility, and the true values of agriculture at a young age without them whose hands would the future of agriculture be in?

Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture: I do not think that I can begin to list the joys of agriculture! It would start when I sold my first show pig and made a profit! After that joining the FFA and putting on my FFA Jacket for the first time. Then winning the Wyoming FFA Parliamentary Procedure Contest and placing 3rd at nationals and getting to compete on National Finals Hall at the 2001 National Convention. Being a part on one of the most successful junior college livestock programs in the country at Casper College in Casper, WY. Winning the Arizona National and Cow Palace in sheep, beef, swine, reasons, and high team overall. Another joy was attending Texas Tech University and judging Livestock there and experiencing agriculture in another part of the country. I had never seen cotton in all of its stages until the summer of 2006. Getting my first teaching job, and placing two agronomy teams in the top ten and hauling sales and meats teams to state twice in my two years at Abernathy High School. Watching my first students in Wyoming place in CDE’s and watching my first student be named the Wyoming FFA extemporaneous speaking champion, But perhaps the biggest joy of being a teacher is knowing each day that you are going to teach you students something new about agriculture. These kids are our future and the more that they know about agriculture the brighter our future is! Someday they will be Vets, Lawyers, Mechanics, journalists, teachers, and maybe a few of them farmers and ranchers and knowing that you made a difference in their life by teaching them about agriculture!

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