"Fear is a motivator - I'd have to find another job in an office doing something I don't want to do, maybe have to move somewhere else, and that makes me want to be successful."
HOMETOWN: Monroe, LA
FARM TYPE / CROPS: Corn, soybeans, rice
FARM LOCATION: Bastrop and Bonita, LA
- Music: James McMurtry, older country music like Hank Williams, JR., '90s alternative — Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots.
- Food: Raw oysters and crawfish are two favorite foods. Also steak, potatoes, pizza!
- Drinks: Don’t drink alcohol — gets me too wild so I don’t drink. I like Dr. Pepper, Cokes.
- Blue Jeans: Bullhead.
- Thing to do AFTER work: Like to play golf all the time, watch football, gambling on football.
- Tractor: My fave tractor is the 8420 John Deere.
- Mantra: Fear is what keeps me going, rather than a mantra. I have so many obligations. I just want to live the way I want to live and be successful. Fear is a motivator — I’d have to find another job in an office doing something I don’t want to do, maybe have to move somewhere else, and that makes me want to be successful and drives me. I want this to work out so I give it 110% so I know it will work out. So far so good!
How did you get into farming?
Got out of high school and started working for my cousin in Arkansas on a 6,000-acre rice farm. After that, I knew that this is what I want to do. Loved it, but I went back to college and finished school. After graduation, my Dad got into sweet potatoes and it opened up a lot of opportunities for me also.
What do you think a big MISCONCEPTION is about farming?
I think a lot of people think that farmers are dumb. But some of the farmers around here are the smartest, most well educated people I’ve ever met! Masters degrees, college degrees, a lot of planning goes into it. You have to plan, manage your finances and try to balance everything. You cannot be stupid if you want to stay in business. If you mismanage in one year, you can go broke. You have to manage everything to a T and spend your money where it needs to go. It’s just more complicated than people really think it is. You have to make the landowners, the banks, the employees happy — balance and satisfy everyone.
What's your relationship status?
I have a live-in girlfriend.
Do you have children?
What is your attitude about money?
Gotta find something that you love to do and that you’re good at, and then money will come. I believe that when you do something that you love to do — and if you’re good at it, the money will come. You just have to find your niche.
If you could meet a few famous people, dead or alive, who would they be?
I’d love to meet Albert Einstein. I like science and history and the geniuses fascinate me, to figure out how they think. George McArthur, the General. I like the war — he was the big boss of WW2 and everyone respected him. He was powerful in this country at one time.
Where is the farthest you have traveled? Where would you like to go?
Arizona, where I lived for awhile. I go to Colorado to snow-ski. Mexico quite often, Xihuatanuo.
I want to go to Europe. Fascinated with the old culture. America is so young.
What do you farm? Are you happy with it?
I really like farming corn — my favorite thing to farm. I feel that this is what I’m best at it. I have very high yields on it, way above state average yields so I must be decent at it.
What was the HARDEST part getting started?
Getting the capital to get started. This is one of the hardest professions to get into by far. It takes so much capital to start. On 470 acres I needed a $100,000 loan plus equipment plus I needed a few hundred thousand extra. Gradually I bought a tractor, then my cousin let me buy his combine — financed. I paid for it after I cut my crop. Got a good break on that. Borrowed some of my dad’s equipment getting started, pulled some big favors.
What SURPRISED you about farming?
How much you learn, I feel like I could take what I’ve learned in farming and apply it to almost any job. I feel like I could be a contractor at a mill, mechanically wise, a good business person.
TELL US ABOUT A DAY ON THE FARM:
Starts at 7 a.m. 'til 7 p.m. Harvesting can end at 10 p.m. every day of the week. You have to irrigate the land — we never shut the wells off, especially with corn. You have to come out here every day, unless you catch a rain. We worked every day this summer unless we caught a rain. On occasion, we would take off by 3 or 4 p.m., but you can’t leave power units on and not check them. But luckily we get a few months off during the winter. December, January, part of February.
What makes you HAPPY in a day on the farm?
If everything is going as planned, I have no problems. Happy when we’re harvesting: fave time of the year!
What makes you FRUSTRATED?
Things breaking down.
What's the BEST part of a day?
When looking at crop, mid-growing season, seeing what you’ve done, you’ve taken nothing and made it something. Just looking at it — it is gratifying. A really pretty crop, you can say I did this myself.
What's the WORST part of a day?
Just the sacrifices that you make — with your girlfriend, with family, you have to make a lot of sacrifices with time. At certain times of the year it takes a lot away from your family. You can’t be there at certain times during the year and it’s hard for people. They don’t understand either — especially the girlfriends!
Do you wear sunscreen?
No, but I wear a hat.
Do you smoke?
Any lessons learned on the farm?
That you have no control, that control is just a myth. You want to have control but everything is usually against you, farming-wise. In other jobs it might be different. You can think you’re having the best year of your life and then you can get completely wiped out by the weather. I learn something everyday — you think you have learned it all, but then something will happen that never has or just tears up as it never has. Expect the unexpected!
Do you have any advice for fellow farmers?
I don’t know if I have the right to give advice to anybody. I’m not the one who likes giving advice, because if it doesn’t work out ...
Anything to say to those who aren’t farmers?
Farming is a wave, a crest, a trough. We might have good times at the moment, but 5 or 6 years down the road it could be very difficult. We may not be able to make as much money. The view is we’re doing great, but taking away government programs takes away from the economy, buying tractors, employing another person. And when times get hard (which they will) this could wreck the economy.
What would you like those who have never farmed to know?
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy, and people don’t recognize it. The economy would crash — the cities would crash, Wall Street would crash, if there were no farmers, and they couldn’t make it. It would be a huge disaster, a depression of monumental proportions. People may not realize that as they go about their business and buy their food and go to their jobs.
Where do you think you'll be in 5 or 10 years?
Hopefully in the same spot, really, with maybe some more land and better equipment. Hopefully the business gradually grows, and I will keep growing, too!