Hello everyone! This week I am thankful for my involvement in MSU’s Collegiate Cattlemen’s Association which took me on a trip last year to Canton, MS to tour Sedgewood Plantation. We visited Sedgewood because of its status as a purebred and commercial Angus cattle operation. That day trip allowed me to meet Dr. Bill Howard and his sister-in-law Judy Moyers. I didn’t meet Dr. Howard’s wife Nancy during that visit, but she did make us some wonderful brownies. After that visit, I knew I wanted to get back to Sedgewood somehow. This weekend I finally did. I made it to Sedgewood to sit down with the sisters, Nancy and Judy, and talk cattle.
Nancy and Judy are from Louisiana, but Nancy moved to Mississippi to pursue nursing school. While in school, she met her husband Dr. Howard whose family owned Sedgewood Plantation. Judy was working with her family’s antique business, but would help Nancy and her family on the farm whenever she visited. Since then, they all have become the workforce of the farm. They worked to develop the herd, renovate the plantation home, expand the working facilities, and otherwise improve the grounds of Sedgewood Plantation. Looking at pictures reveals how much they built it from the ground up. The difference is amazing. This strong work ethic and initiative for improvement is still a driving force for the sisters today.
Nancy and Judy take care of the farm on a daily basis. There is no job to big or too small for these women. They will find a way to make it happen. I believe their teamwork makes them very efficient, too. Nancy is most interested in the cattle, especially during calving season. One story they told me was about an orphaned calf. Nancy had to bond the calf with a nurse cow which proved to be a difficult task. That cow just did not want to take the calf. Finally after several days of repeated attempts, Nancy got the cow to accept the calf. It was her determination for that calf that made all the difference. On the other hand, Judy enjoys the mechanical aspects of the farm, especially securing the miles and miles of electric fencing on their property. She loves problem-solving, too. When her herbicide sprayer became impractical to use because of the constant height adjustments it needed, Judy figured out a way to use the hydraulics on the Kubota to make the adjustments for her. Talk about ingenuity! Nancy and Judy bring their interests together to help keep the operation running smoothly, and it is clear that they appreciate each other’s abilities. Judy says that Nancy’s liking the cattle helps her like them, too. And with a big smile on her face Nancy says, “Judy can fix anything.”
One thing that Nancy and Judy both love is having Nancy’s children help out on the farm. Even now as college students, they help when they come home to visit. Nancy said the family operation gave her children a chance to learn about hard work, experience compassion, and develop a respect for nature. Judy said she enjoyed sharing the sense of accomplishment and a job well done with the children when they all worked together.
I just can’t get over how cool these two women are. I get impressed every time I think about the pictures of the way the plantation used to look and the way it looks now. They didn’t start out with a big barn or a feed wagon. They started out with 5 gallon buckets. Judy said that if you want to be in agriculture you need to be, “willing to get your hands dirty and put your boots on.” I believe that is exactly what they do. It reminded me that starting out in agriculture can be difficult, but if you are willing to work hard; learn from your mistakes; and keep trying, you can achieve success in your business. Nancy and Judy also reinforced my belief that agriculture can be wonderful for families. They told me so many great stories about the family working together on the farm. There are life lessons to be learned and good times to be had. Nancy and Judy embrace agriculture and work hard to have a profitable and enjoyable but most importantly, family oriented business. That’s what makes Nancy Howard and Judy Moyers women for agriculture.