Going from Accountant to Farmer, a funny history of deGraan Farms’ Matriarch! I never knew that I would enjoy this life so much. Being an accountant and business woman turned farmer was a fun and exciting change for me. I have gladly turned in my skirts and pantyhose for coveralls and blue jeans. Bobby had the farming background, but my only exposure was when I visited my grandparents in Tennessee where my Great-Uncle Taud, who is now deceased, and Great-Uncle Bob cattle farmed. I was more interested in the horses than the cows at that time. Now, I love taking time to sit and have a conversation with my Uncle Bob about cows and the industry. Even though my Great-Uncle Bob has aged equipment and the farm is smaller than when I was younger, the principles are all the same. He calves out his cows, buys and sells his cows and calves, and cuts hay for his cows just as he has for decades. While watching my Great-Uncles farm for all those years, I never knew I would be doing the exact same thing now.
Everything I have learned about farming has come from Bobby. On our second date, Bobby took me horseback riding on the farm. When Bobby told me we were going horseback riding, my one worry was what I was going to wear so that I looked good in the saddle. The only boots I had were chunky fashion boots, so I ended up wearing tennis shoes. That decision was made after three phone calls to my friends and sister and finally to my brother-in-law who works at Barnsley Gardens where they have riding stables. He took us riding on the very farm we live on and work today. After riding for a few hours, I was so turned around I thought we had toured all of Calhoun. When we were done riding, I didn’t even know how to dismount! Now, thru the guidance of Bobby, and a good pair of riding boots, I have learned to cut calves, herd and drive cattle, and assist in loading cattle while on horseback.
The first time Bobby and I were to work our first set of cows, I was SO nervous! I stayed up all night worrying about the day to come. Back then, it was easy to get the cows up. We just fed them and they came running to the working pens. My jobs were to catch the cows in the head chute and gave them a vaccine shot. Everything was going well until about half way through the herd. A cow known as number 21, who had lost her sight in one eye, came barreling to the chute. This is supposed to be a self catching chute, but because she was blind in one eye, she turned her head just right and I missed her. Out she trotted happy to have slipped thru without the embarrassment of having your head caught, tail lifted and palpitated to check to see if she was bred. So now, those easy to catch cows know what is going on and are not so easy to catch. Several rounds around the pasture, one more sorting, and number 21 was finally worked and guaranteed 5 months bred!
Our first calving season was such an excitement. I could sit in a truck for hours watching calves being born and then within 30 minutes, stand up and start nursing. Our first calf did not go that well though. The day started with me turning in my notice at work. I was making the move from Accountant to farmer. Still shaking from the huge decision I had just made, I came home to find a cow with a calf under her. It was a month early and not standing. The cow’s name was Jug Head because she had a big head and she knew how to use it. We tried to work with her and the calf. But Jug Head stayed true to her name, and was impossible to work with. I took it as an omen that this was the life for me! I now had a calf to bottle feed. I named the calf Miracle.