Category Archives: Mothers

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.

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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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Hands of a New Farmer: Josh Snodgrass

Hands of a New Farmer: Josh Snodgrass

It is always nice to hear from a new generation of farmer!  Josh Snodgrass’s story is quite inspirational if you have ever considered farming for a living!

Hands Pictured Above: Josh Snodgrass Age: 23

Involvement in Agriculture:I am beginning my career as a cotton farmer in the Panhandle of Texas, specifically, Crosbyton, TX. 2012 will be my first crop on my own and I am extremely excited to see what the future holds for me. Production agriculture, in my opinion, is the most valuable job in the world. It all starts at the ground, literally, and to be involved in such an occupation makes me extremely proud. I have tried other jobs throughout college and I can’t ever seem to stay away from the farm. I love every aspect of our operation and enjoy waking up in the mornings to go to work. Production agriculture can tend to be a very stressful and time consuming occupation. In order to remain in operation for years into the future, it is very important to enjoy a hard day’s work. As an individual, I never back down from a challenge. Production agriculture is a challenging occupation that requires risk, effort, and hard work. It is very rewarding to me to be able to work very hard by putting in long hours and strenuous labor, and hopefully reap the benefits at the end of the season.

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture: Since this is my first year, I don’t have many difficult moments just yet. In this occupation, it seems there will always be something difficult to worry about. To make that “perfect bumper crop,” the stars literally have to line up and everything has to fall into place. The farmer has to worry about the weather, the markets, finances, and the list could go on forever. I am starting my first year in the second worst drought in Texas history. I know that one day, it will rain, I just pray that it happens soon! Now that I am paying for my own inputs, I have found that EVERYTHING the farmer uses to grow a crop is expensive and continuing to increase. I can look back in the past and see certain events that can prove this life a difficult one. Two years ago, in 2010, we had that “perfect bumper crop” with the highest market prices in history and on October 22 at 2 in the morning, we had to listen to a violent hail storm beat our 3 and 4 bale crop to the ground. I know that difficult times like these will definitely happen.

Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture: The most joyous time for a farmer definitely has to be taking a crop to harvest. Farming is a very rewarding occupation. We don’t get a paycheck on a weekly or monthly basis, we put our lives on the line for six months out of the year and get paid once a year. When I plant that seed in the ground in May, put thousands and thousands of dollars into the crop throughout the season, and then harvest that crop in the fall and sell it at the end of the year, that paycheck proves to be a very joyous and rewarding time.

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In the Hands of an Ag Mom: Amy Smith

Amy Smith Hands

Where would most of us be without our mothers?  I know my life would be a wreck for several reasons. Ag mom’s are a special breed of mom…they are the ultimate multitaskers, efficient in their work, and always lend a soft place to fall or cry! One day a year to celebrate mom’s is certainly not enough….but when we consider Ag Mom’s; 365 Days a year would not be enough…Today we honor a very special Ag Mom….

Hands Pictured Above: Amy Smith  Age: 38

My name is Amy Smith. I am a grandchild, child, active participant, cousin, wife, parent, friend and God-willing grandparent in an Agriculture family. The key word there is FAMILY. Whether by blood, marriage or acquaintance, I am part of a family.

My faith causes me to believe that God created Agriculture. He made the plants, trees and animals- each for a specific purpose. He also made man (and woman) to care for His creation. Agriculture was part of His perfect plan.It is the circle of life. I am part of the God-fearing community who prays, helps and shares all they have. When was the last time you heard of a murderer or drug addicted farmer? We might not make a million bucks doing it, but this is the village that I have chosen to help raise my children.

What is your involvement in agriculture?

My role in agriculture is incredibly diverse. In any given week you will find me driving. I drive to the farm to feed, to take the kids to feed and to buy more feed.  You will find me communicating via text, email, phone call and in person. We communicate about who will feed, current health problems, seeking and offering advice. You may find me researching. I research show times, weather forecasts and feeding strategies. You may find me meeting. You may find me cooking for kids who are getting up at 4am to attend a show or contest or bland food for an animal who needs to be nursed back to health.  You may find me comforting a child whose animal met an untimely death or chastising a child who didn’t make sure their animals were cared for properly. Not a day goes by that does not encounter some aspect of farming or agriculture.

Most Difficult Moment in Agriculture

One of the most memorable occasions that I have is of a little calf my dad picked up at the sale barn. He was a little brown cross, about 5 days old and full of spunk. It isn’t uncommon for these young calves to get sick, but for some reason this one was different. We spent hours coercing him to drink, even a little. When it started raining, there were no complaints from the kids when he needed to be fed. There were a couple trips to the store to get medication. I’m certain that Pa (my dad) spent more on this calf than he normally would, for the sake of the kids. When it was time to leave, we said goodbye to Pa and hugged the calf. We talked and texted over the next few days, checking on the calf. He died. We all cried. I can think of several occasions when an animal had to be put down, but very few that I have such a vivid memory of.

Most Joyous Moment in Agriculture

There are two that come to mind. The first was when my son found a bare patch in the grass. We went to Home Depot to get grass squares but found them brown and mostly dead due to the drought and extreme temperatures.  I reluctantly bought a few, because he was begging. Over the next few weeks, he watered those squares by hand. He pulled the weeds and even put a border around them to make sure they did not get stepped on.  They eventually took root and started to grow and became one of the best spots in the yard.

The other moment that sticks out is when we brought a sick goat to our home (in the city) because he was sick and needed “round the clock” care. The kids set up cots in the garage. The outside temperature was around 30 degrees that night, but they stayed in sleeping bags and coveralls to make sure that the goat was okay.

Those are defining moments as a parent you know that even in the tumultuous challenges of surviving the teenage years, that we (my Ag family) have planted the seeds of compassion, patience, pride and perseverance. These are the foundation for greatness in whatever they choose to be.

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