Frannie's AG Story
My family has been raising animals since before I can remember. We are a family of seven kids, all close in age. We lived on a half acre yard in the country. When I was a toddler, my dad started raising meat rabbits; we generally had three or four does and one buck. We bred the rabbits all spring, summer, and fall; The rabbits increased as our family increased.
Egg laying chickens, partridges and quail came the next year. About once a month or so we’d butcher chickens or rabbits. From our growing family size, to our homeschooling, to the animals we raised, the neighbors always thought we were quite strange. We also gardened like crazy. I don’t have many memories of these early years.
As the years went on, I did little things here and there for chores. I wanted to be a part of everything my dad was doing; butchering, dipping beaks, breeding, cleaning pens, picking out new animals and when he’d be gone for works trips, I’d be the one left managing our little farm. Sixth grade came and I learned to ride a horse, the farm also had Shetland sheep. That was my first year showing sheep and horses.
In seventh grade, my brother (who at the time was responsible for the daily care of our animals) showed rabbits and chickens at our county fair. That next year I also showed chickens and rabbits for the first time. I always loved walking through the barns at the fair. I desired to raise cattle or pigs; both of which I knew nothing about. When I was fourteen, I was frustrated with my brothers work ethic. He would wake up late, do chores late and I did not like that. One week, during spring planting, I decided to take on the daily chores of our chickens and rabbits. From that moment on, I have never looked back.
That summer at county fair, I won champion with our breeding buck—our best buck and my first big win! That winter, we moved to a ten-acre place. We weren’t even there for a week and I was already asking for beef cattle or swine. A few weeks later, I bought my first two pigs—a Duroc gilt and a crossbred gilt. At age fifteen, I finally was raising livestock! My first fair I won the lean gain/rate of gain award—I had no idea what I was winning! My first auction sale and my first time leaving an animal at the fair.
Since then I have raised almost forty pigs for shows and some just for selling. I have also raised a variety of pig breeds since then. The summer of when I was fifteen, my brothers learned horse cart driving at a dairy/horse farm. I learned how to lead and halter break dairy heifers that year, and the next year I showed dairy for the first time! I have shown Brown Swiss heifers at all kinds of competitions and one year, the heifer lived on our pasture! After the county fair of when I was seventeen, my dad and I decided to raise beef. That fall, my brother and I received our first steers—twin balancers! What a wild ride that was! We probably had the world’s most uncooperative steers! Anything that could go wrong with cattle did. But, I survived, and after those two went to market, we bought some more. This year I am raising and showing a Hereford for the first time! This past fall I raised an orphaned lamb for meat and turkeys for thanksgiving. I love waking up each day just to feed my steers.
I love learning about everything in agriculture, especially the science of it all. I love the rich historical traditions of the American farm life.