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Smiths win Finest Farm Family award

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By Calen McKinney

 

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It's what he loves to do. It's also what his father and grandfather loved.

Barry Smith and his family have a 300-acre farm on Owl Creek Road. About 100 beef cattle graze the land.

"Just like to farm," Smith said. "Got that from my dad, I guess."

Smith's grandfather built the farm in 1929. After someone else owned the property for a while, Smith purchased the farm in 2002. He lives there with his wife, Kim, and two children, Rylen, 14, and Dwight, 18.

"This come up for sale," he said. "Seemed like I had to have it. Whole lot of memories here."

The Smith family was honored recently when they received the Finest Farm Family award at the Taylor County Fair. Taylor County Cattlemen's Association members select the winner of the award and it is presented at the fair each year.

Pat Hardesty, Taylor County extension agent for agriculture and natural resources, said the association's board of directors considers nominations for the award and then evaluate the farms suggested.

Hardesty said board members look for farm families who are above average in what they do, are respected amongst their neighbors and peers, keep their farm clean and sacrifice their personal time to help others.

He said the Smith family is very deserving of the award, from keeping their farm very neat to being effective producers and giving back to the community.

Smith is no stranger to community service. He serves on the county's airport and soil conservation boards, is a member of the Taylor County, Kentucky and National Cattlemen's Associations and drives a bus for the Taylor County school system. He and his brother, Gerald, operate Compton-Smith Battery Co. They also own about 60 acres of land together. Mrs. Smith works for the Taylor County School District.

Being so involved in the community, Smith said, can lead to long days. His days typically begin before 6 a.m. and don't end until after dark. He said he tends to his public work first. He then comes home to feed the cattle and checks in at the battery store. Then, the farm calls again.

"After that, I come here and do what needs doing," he said.

While Smith wears many hats, farming with his family is his true love.

He said Dwight has chickens on the farm and he takes care of their eggs.

"He's a big help. He drives the tractors and moves the hay," Smith said.

"Everybody's got their duties," he said. "Everbody pitches in and helps."

Smith said he and his family do the majority of the work on the farm. Terry Sharp pitches in with weed eating.

Rylen enjoys helping with the cattle, he said, but has said she likely won't make farming her career choice.

The Smiths adopted Rylen in 1999. Dwight came to live with them in the same year.

Mrs. Smith said she and her husband weren't able to have children of their own, but always knew they wanted them.

"We prayed for a child and God blessed us with two," she said.

She said the children took to farming very well.

"You wouldn't know they're not our biological kids."

Smith said he was excited to receive the Finest Farm Family award, the first award his family has received for its farm. He said he didn't know his family's farm had been nominated.

"It made me feel good," he said. "There's a lot more people probably that deserve it more than me."

Smith said farming today is much tougher than in years past. With the rising cost of just about everything, he said it can be tough for farmers to get by.

"People still eat beef," he said. "People's always gonna need beef."

Smith said the era of small farms is rapidly declining, with farmers today having to have large operations to be successful.

"It gets bigger and bigger and bigger," he said. "Pushing the little man out.

"You got to have the big herds to be successful. I don't see how the little guys go out and make money."

But despite the obstacles, Smith said farming is his passion.

"Cattle's my thing," he said. "I like my cows and calves.

"There's other things that make more money, but I want to do what I want to do."

Smith said farming is hard work and farmers often have to be experts in just about everything, from mechanics to doctoring their animals.

"I work harder now than [when] I was younger."

"But it's fun, I enjoy it," he said. "When you're a farmer, you're kinda a jack of all trades."

Three years ago, Smith was injured in a plane crash. He said he believes the Lord had plans for him and that - and being physically fit from farming - kept him alive.

"The Lord had big plans for me," he said. "I guess I better pay attention."

Smith said he isn't sure his family farming tradition will be carried on after he decides to retire. He said Dwight might do some farming, however.

Mrs. Smith said she believes there aren't many today who want the career.

"Farming, it's dying out," she said. "You've got to love it."

And her husband does, she said.

"To him, a lot of things aren't work. That's his relaxation."

One of the most enjoyable jobs on the farm, Smith said, is bailing hay.

"Nothing wrong with hard work," he said. "Hard work won't hurt you."