PCCA - Plains Cotton Cooperative Association Logo PCCA Commentator Magazine Masthead. Vol. 46, No. 1 | Winter 2016

A Family Tradition

  PCCA Family Farm Photo Contest Winners

The members are the heart of any cooperative, and this is no different for Plains Cotton Cooperative Association. PCCA hosted a Family Farm Photo Contest on Facebook in September 2015 to highlight some of the great families of this cooperative. The Abernathy family received the most votes and won the contest, and the three families with the most votes won the opportunity to be featured in this edition of Commentator. Meet the Abernathy family, the Mason family and the Howze family.

The Abernathy Family – Altus, Oklahoma

Abernathy Family

From left to right: Jarod Abernathy and Cade and Drake; Clint Abernathy; Justin Abernathy and Kenzie, Kreed, Kason

Cotton Growers Gin

Five generations of the Abernathy family have farmed in the Altus, Oklahoma, area. Clint Abernathy is the fourth generation to farm since his great-grandfather settled the place. Clint and his wife, Kim, have two sons who farm alongside them. Their son, Justin, is married to Amy, and they have three children; Kason, Kenzie and Kreed. Their other son, Jarod, is married to Jill, and they have two sons; Cade and Drake. The Abernathy family focuses their practices on tradition and family values.

Why did you participate in the photo contest?

Jill: We participated in the contest because farming goes deep into our roots, and we thought it was important to showcase our hard-working family and emphasize the importance of farming as a family.

What do you enjoy about having your family on a farm?

Amy: Having the family on the farm is something unique and very special to our large family! But some of our most prized reasons that we love raising the family on the farm is that you have the opportunity to see more sunrises and more sunsets than most do and that early on you have manners and learn to respect your elders. You learn the importance of listening and following instructions. You quickly learn the value of a dollar.

What makes your family special?

Kim: My family is special because we are close-knit and farm together. We respect each other and listen to each other when it comes to making decisions.

What is the best part of being a farm family?

Jill: A day in the life of a farm family is never the same. Some days are rewarding while others are discouraging, some days are warm and others are freezing, some days run smooth, other days are a disaster, but no matter what each day brings, they are all worth it. We wouldn’t trade our farm life for anything.

Why do you farm?

Justin: I love farming because it has always been in the family. It is what I grew up around, and it’s pretty much all I know. It is rewarding to start a crop and see it all the way to the end and finishing it. I really enjoy it.

Why is it important to be a good steward of the land?

Clint: It’s important because the land was passed down to us from our parents and grandparents, and we intend on it to continue to my children and grandchildren. We are constantly looking for ways to conserve the soil because when that soil is gone, we do not get it back.

What would you say to someone who accused farmers of abusing the land?

Clint: This land means so much to us, there is no way we would abuse it. I also think in agriculture we need to be better at communicating. We have a generation of consumers coming online that we are going to have to communicate with on social media. We need that sort of communication so we don’t get criticized in the first place. The facts need to be put out there in a way that this younger generation will read and understand what we are doing.

How can we be better stewards of the land?

Clint: As a whole, I think farmers continue to implement the practices that we have already started, and I think technology is going to be a big part of that. We have come so far already with the methods we use, but we need to continue that and to adopt the new technologies that come our way.

Why are you proud to be a farmer?

Clint: I am proud to be a farmer because it is a tradition in my family, and it is one that we are really proud to carry on. We feel like we do a good job with the land, and we enjoy it. We would not want to do anything else.

Why did you want to raise your children on the farm?

Justin: It is what my family has always done, and hopefully that is what we will always do. My kids are coming up, and I want them to experience the same things I did growing up. Coming out to a good, honest day’s work to get where you need to be.

What are you doing to ensure future generations will be able to farm?

Clint: We are adopting conservation practices such as no-till and drip irrigation. We try to do precision farming by applying fertilizers accurately and just where they need to be. We don’t apply any more pesticides than we absolutely have to. It is expensive for one thing, and we do not want to be exposed to it anymore than any- one else. It is just important that we take care of that.

Is there anything that was passed down to you that has influenced your farming practices?

Justin: I have been fortunate enough to be able to work around my dad and my granddad. Things are a lot different now than when my granddad was farming, but with the new technology and everything else it still gets down to the nitty gritty. You still get in there and do what needs to be done. I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t watched them over the years and picked up on that.

What is your favorite part of farming?

Clint: It is hard for me to pick a favorite part of farming. I love just about every part of it. Being with my family is really important. It is very rewarding, but it can be very challenging at times, and sometimes it gets downright discouraging. No two years are ever the same. We can set up a plan every year but are ready when those plans change. It is just the challenge of it that I really enjoy.

Why do you choose to be part of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association?

Kim: We choose to be part of PCCA because we trust them to warehouse and market our cotton in a professional manner. Since it is a coop, we have some ownership in the company and can have a voice in how it is run.

The Mason Family – Lubbock, Texas

Lubbock Cotton Growers

Mason Family

From left to right: Ray, Celia, Desta, Wes, Ben, and Charles Mason.

The Mason family has been farming since 1918 when the first generation bought land in Lynn and Garza counties. Since then, each generation has carried on the family tradition. Charles Mason is the living patriarch of the family at 79 years old. He is still an active part of the day-to-day operations on the farm. His son Ray and his wife, Celia, followed in his footsteps. They also raised their family on the farm. Their oldest son, Wes, and his wife, Desta, both attended agricultural based universities. They both use their degrees in agriculture to add input to the farming operations. Ray and Celia’s second son, Ben, attended trade school in diesel technology. His knowledge is a great asset in maintaining the equipment that the family uses every day. The main things the Mason family believe in are faith, family and farming.

Why did you participate in the photo contest?

Desta: Our family has an interesting story since we have been farming for 97 years. It is fun to share this story with others! We had friends and family share our posts that are located all over Texas and the United States. A simple post can advocate for farming and grow support for our industry.

What do you enjoy about having your family on a farm?

Charles: I feel like they are an asset to the operation since they grew up here. I am glad to pass the heritage on to them.

What makes your family special?

Desta: While each family member has their own farming operation, the family as a whole works as a team to accomplish the work that needs to be done.

What is the best part of being a farm family?

Charles: Associating and working together would be the best part.

Why do you farm?

Charles: I have been here 60 years, and that’s the only thing I know. Also, the independence of the operation.

Why is it important to be a good steward of the land?

Ray: It is important because you have one shot at the land. It is your livelihood. If you don’t take care of it, it won’t take care of you.

What would you say to someone who accused farmers of abusing the land?

Ray: I would ask them to come with me and show them what practices we have used down through the generations and prove to them that we are good stewards.

How can we be better stewards of the land

Ray: Be cognizant of the situations that weather and other environmental factors bring and be proactive to maintain conservation practices.

Why are you proud to be a farmer?

Charles: It’s always been my desire to do this and take the heritage that was passed to me and carry it on.

Ray: I like the freedom to make my own decisions and the fact that I am only responsible to myself.

Wes and Ben: We like applying our college educations to advance our farming practices.

Why did you want to raise your children on the farm?

Celia: Living on the farm is one of the world’s best classrooms. Children learn responsibility, stewardship, respect, and work ethics. Things in life are not just given to you; you have to work for them. Kids raised on the farm have a whole different mentality than those raised in town.

What are you doing to ensure future generations will be able to farm?

Ray and Charles: We are maintaining the land that we farm and trying to improve usable practices to make the land productive for the future generations.

Is there anything that was passed down to you that has influenced your farming practices?

Ray and Charles: Our family has always had a love of soil stewardship and conservation. It has been passed down from generation to generation and will continue to be.

What is your favorite part of farming?

Ray: Planting a crop gives you hope, but harvesting has to be my favorite because it’s the final accomplishment of your year’s work.

Why do you choose to be part of Plains Cotton Cooperative Association?

Ray: We have always been part of the cooperative system. PCCA helps us carry our marketing ability one step further and relieves us from the burden of having to market our crop ourselves. Wes: I like the technological side of PCCA and being able to access information easily anywhere, anytime.

The Howze Family – Petronila, Texas

Howze Family

James Howze

Coastal Bend Gin

Sam and Lora Howze have been married for five years, and they have two children, James who is three years old and a seven week old named Wesley. They also have two black labs, Bell and Rio, who are like children to them. Sam is the third generation of his family to farm near Petronila, Texas.

Why did you participate in the photo contest?

Lora: I really wanted to win the camera and thought that it would be really cool to have James’ picture in a magazine that so many of our friends get.

What do you enjoy about having your family on the farm?

Lora: Our favorite part about living on the farm is how peaceful and relaxing it is. You don’t have the noise of traffic or any nosey neighbors. It is nice to be able to watch the sunset and be able to see the stars without a bunch of streetlights. James can run and play or ride his gator and not have to worry about getting in the street. He also has plenty of dirt to play with his trucks and tractors in. When Sam puts in long hours, it is nice that he does not have a long drive home.

What makes your family special?

Lora: It is mine, and there is no other family like us because we are unique in our own way. I married a hardworking, loving, caring man, and together we made two handsome boys. Together, we will teach them the value of hard work and respect.

What is the best part of being a farm family?

Lora: Knowing that we are helping feed and clothe America and that we are a part of a hard working industry that is well respected.