By Nancy Dorman-Hickson
Josh Ogle naturally shares his affection for the way he makes a living.
“I love being able to be outside every day and being able to produce food, fuel and fiber for the world,” says the Lincoln County row crop farmer.
He and his wife, Julieanna, partner with his parents, David and Sherry Ogle, in a 4,500-acre row crop operation near Flintville, producing corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton. Close to the Alabama line and in the dead center of the state, the area is a bit flatter than East Tennessee and offers rich soil for farming.
Cotton has always been crucial to the operation.
“My grandfather grew it, my dad grew it and now I’m growing it and teaching my kids how to grow it,” Ogle says. He and Julieanna have three children: Levi, 10; Abi, 8; and Travis, 5.
A Case IH module express cotton picker is their current choice of equipment. The self-contained unit picks then packs the cotton in 16-by-8-by-8-foot modules. The cotton is then tarped in the field and retrieved by the gin for ginning, baling and storage.
“That’s where our ties to the cotton end,” Ogle says. “Once it gets to the warehouse and we get the grade reports back, then we get paid.”
The cotton harvest can be anywhere from September through December, depending on weather and planting dates. Prices and demand vary from season to season.
“At the end of the 2011 crop, they were moving it out as fast as they could get it in. There was a shortage,” he says. “Last year, they weren’t moving it out as much. You just never know.”
Mention of that up-and-down price cycle, common to farmers, prompts him to recall a recent misleading media report. The article indicated farmers automatically become rich when commodity prices are high. That’s simply not how it works, Ogle explains.
“Yes, there is money to be made in agriculture,” he says. “Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it for a living. But it’s not a get-rich-quick scene either.”
Clarifying how agriculture works is one of the goals of an event held each fall at the Ogle farm. The Old-Fashioned Cotton Picking Day attracts between 100 and 150 people for lunch and a chance to pick cotton by hand. The media is invited as well. The 2013 Old-Fashioned Cotton Picking Day will take place Friday, Oct. 25, at 10 a.m. Read More>>
The free event “sheds a good light on agriculture,” Ogle says. “But it’s more or less about having a good time.” Participants range from babies to the elderly and from novices to experienced pickers. Ogle recalls one gentleman in his 90s who came to re-enact his long-ago picking days.
“He had a walking cane with him,” Ogle recalls. As the man entered a cotton row, he “took a few steps, threw down his walking cane, and went to picking with both hands!”
The Ogles decide the date for the fall event about two weeks ahead of time. For details, email CotnFarm(at)att(dot)net or check D&J River Farms Facebook page.
SEE ALSO: Farm Facts: Cotton
“Farming is a good way of life,” he says. “It teaches hard work. It teaches discipline and knowledge of the land and soil. There are other ways to make a living, and I’m going to encourage my children to follow their own ambitions. But there will always be a place on the farm for them if they want to farm.”
A Musical Side Order
Josh Ogle also ballyhoos agriculture through his band, Pork and Beans. Joined by Rutherford County farmer Brandon Whitt, the two friends play guitar and sing at various agriculture-related events, mostly performing original songs with lyrics that showcase rural life and farming. Ogle and Whitt were winners of the state’s Young Farmer and Rancher Achievement Award in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
The musical duo tossed around the idea of writing songs together for a while before acting on it. Then Whitt in Murfreesboro texted two words to Ogle: Farm Strong. That kicked off Ogle writing and texting two verses to Whitt. “He sent me back a completed song that night,” Ogle says. “Farm Strong” became a hit, at least among the farming community.
The band’s name pays tribute to Whitt’s hog farming and Ogle’s soybean growing. With various band mates, Pork and Beans has performed at several farm-related meetings, including a live taping of the Today show with Al Roker as part of the Hatcher Family Dairy (Related: Hatcher Family Dairy Milks Farm for All It’s Worth) scholarship fundraiser in College Grove.
“We try to entertain, as well as promote farming and ag safety and awareness,” Ogle says. “With full-time operations, we don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it. But any time we can make it work, we do.”
See Whitt’s website, bateyfarms.com, for more information about the Pork and Beans CD.