This young family is a delight to get to know. Like so many of our farm and ranch families in Arizona, they have a story to tell they didn’t realize needed telling. Fortunately, their loving network of friends and family helped them see the light and they’re telling their story now, through the eyes and adventures of their children. Haidyn and Hannah have written a fabulous book about life on their farm, where they grow alfalfa and corn, feed calves, and have a cow/calf operation.
WhiteBarn Hay & Cattle began in 2004. But really, you and I need to go back to 1952 to get the whole story. Jason's grandparents moved to Sulphur Springs Valley on January 1 of 1952 from Oklahoma, and Candice's grandparents moved from California in 1953. Both families farmed chile, cotton, corn, and alfalfa. And both families have succeeding generations still farming in southeast Arizona today. Haidyn and Hannah tell us this story in their book, Farm Kids, Growing Up WhiteBarn. Readers discover for themselves what growing up on a farm in southern Arizona is like.
An agriculture profile of the Barnard family of Cochise County.
An ongoing series of our Arizona farm and ranch businesses.
Tell us about your agriculture business ? We are farming, ranching and cattle feeding operation. In 2002, Jason's granddad, Noel Curry, was helping Jason transition into farming on his own. Papa, as he is known, told Jason, “We'll see if you can make it work."
When Candice and Jason were married in 2004, two farming families, who were generational Sulphur Springs Valley farm families, were brought together as more than just friends and neighbors.
When Jason was working to secure his first operating loan, the bank president told Jason with a chuckle, “Well I don't know why anyone would want to farm, but I'll loan you the money!” He knew that he was participating in a dream that was going to continue to develop and grow.
We have grown several crops: green and red chile, pumpkins, pinto beans, corn, alfalfa, wheat, barley and cotton. We bought our first set of calves to feed our undervalued hay in 2009. To do that we leased a little feedlot from a neighbor in Elfrida. He didn't even charge us any lease because he had lost enough money in that feedlot that he was anxious to see someone else do something with it. We have continued feeding and running calves on wheat pasture since then.
Currently, we grow alfalfa, corn for silage, and grass hay of many kinds, including triticale, wheat, barley, oats, teff, and Bermuda. We have a cow/calf operation, pasture outside cows and yearlings, and wean and background calves for ranches and customers from many ranches around Arizona and New Mexico. We always have room for one more set of calves.
Tell us about some of your Conservation practices/improvements : The most important thing that we have received as a generational legacy, besides our faith in God, is the idea of always continuing to learn, always continue to seek to improve and grow, starting with yourself, and continuing into every area of life.
It is a core value for us to continue becoming better stewards of the land and resources, and to become better producers to produce more without increasing our farm size. Our goal is to maximize profitability and sustainability without adding more land to the operation. Efficiency is so important in today's economic environment.
We have participated with the NRCS to make many improvements on the farm. We have updated and installed the most efficient pivots when possible, updated and improved nozzle packages and irrigation application methods. Minimum tillage, cover crops and grazing have been integral parts of our system since 2006.
Tell us about your inspiration for a book ? The inspiration of the book project came from our good friend Wink Crigler, owner of the X Diamond Ranch in Greer, Arizona. We have done a lot of business with Wink since we met in 2012, and she has a special relationship with Haidyn and Hannah. Wink had an idea that the girls had a story to tell about growing up on a farm/ranch/feedlot operation, and that there would be a lot of folks who would love to read about kids growing up in agriculture in Arizona in 2020.
It took a little convincing because we, just like most people in agriculture, don't think anything of our story. In fact, we think it's rather boring, or uninteresting since it's what we live. But the girls got on board, and before long, they were taking pictures, writing notes, and making preparations to share their story.
Wink had an idea, a vision of what it might turn into, and as she has said, the girls took off with it, made it their own, have done a fabulous job of telling their story of a year on their farm. We are so thankful that Wink, Barb Denny, and Scott Baxter took the girls under their arms and turned this into such an amazing book.
Tell us something nobody really knows about the family : When Hannah was very little, she referred to “rocky mountain oysters” as “grits.” So anytime we were branding, she was more focused on “cooking grits” on the branding pot than whatever her job was...it was always really funny.
Haidyn and Hannah are amazing singers! It's getting out more now, but wow. We sure are proud of their willingness to bless others with the gift of singing that God gave them.
Many people don't know that we feed and pasture cattle. We can help a lot of ranches during dry years like we are experiencing right now.
More and more farm and ranch families are telling their own story. We need more of this. What’s your advice to anyone in farm and ranch country wanting to do the same ? As I mentioned earlier, it took some convincing for us to want to share our story. Mostly, because we didn't think anything of our story. But as more and more Americans are getting further and further from the farm and ranch heritage of their ancestors, it has been received so amazingly well.
The girls were asked if they had any thoughts regarding the book project recently. Their reply was that they hoped that this would help inspire other farm and ranch kids and families to tell their story. And surprisingly, we have had several tell us that it is an inspiration to do just that. We didn't write this book because we have a special story, it's just ours and everybody has a story to tell!
When asked what their favorite part of the book project was, Hannah will tell you that she learned that you can do anything you set your mind to. Haidyn says every time that what she enjoyed most is that our family spent a lot of time together working on the book.
One might think that between all the work that happens around here, much of it together; homeschooling, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, going to church, and all the regular traveling we do (it's over an hour drive one way just to get groceries or parts), that time together would not make the list. It is a reminder that no matter how much time our kids have with us, they are always ready for more.
That is our favorite part of the life that we live, and if we're not careful we take it for granted, because it's the way we live. Having the freedom to farm and ranch and feed cattle. To watch the sun come up over the Peloncillos, and watch it go down on the Chiricahua’s. To plant a seed, and watch it emerge out of the ground, to become a plant, produce its fruit, and be harvested. To pick out the right bulls for the right cows, to get the right calves. To make an adjustment on the feed ration to squeeze out a little more gain. To give some kiddos the responsibility to grow food, to raise cattle, to learn that life is not just about us, it's about serving others. That's what we love about this life we live.
What's the best piece of advice you were ever given ?
These are lessons for anyone but these we are teaching the girls, too.
- Never take opportunity for granted.
- Always be thankful!
- Regardless of what happens, don't ever think you got yourself there alone.
- Do what is easy and your life will be hard. Do what is hard, and your life will be easy!
We are all standing on the shoulders of the generations who went before us who worked hard, fought, bled, and died for us to have this opportunity, whatever it may be. And of course, every good gift comes from God.
Editor's Note: If you're interested in your own copy of the book, you can place an order here.
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