The Farmer’s Life from a Farmer’s Wife

By Whitney Tilley – Ten Mile, Tennessee 

1375636_10202381625564304_1117846450_nI guess I should have known I would never be first.

She will always be his first love.

She steals him away in the early hours of the morning.

I never get the luxury of having him next to me to enjoy a lazy start to the day. She consumes his time, his mind, and his dreams. She is as hard to get out of his thoughts as she is getting out of his clothes. The strain she puts on his body during the day spills over in the night, making rest difficult.

I admit when he first introduced me to her I was jealous. I can see what he sees in her. She is beautiful and dangerous. She calms him one minute and excites him the next. She challenges him to attempt the impossible. She fulfills him, and yet he can never give her enough. I can only hold his hand; she holds his heart. She is his world.

1619311_10203181674885037_1113857328_nThere are never spontaneous trips or dates like most marriages share. Her needs come first, always.

She can romance him in ways that I cannot. The few moments I can take him away from her are spent talking about her. She ignites a passion in him that I could never compete with. She could easily tear us a part, but somehow she makes us strong. From an early age he has chased her trying to master and perfect her. She has made him the honorable man he is today. He would sacrifice it all for her.

10712700_10204919694854450_6252265263576810840_nShe takes his family time, his vacation, and sick days. He would give his last dime to preserve her legacy. He would fight and risk his life for her. I love him because of what she has made him. You have to know her to ever understand her.

The nerve that some people would call her “factory!” Tell that to our kids when we are in 90 degree temperatures picking up hay for winter feedings. Come by and insult her in the dead of winter when the wind chill is close to zero and we are unrolling hay for our herd. Call her factory when we are pleading with God to heal a calf or cow that is sick. Say that to my face when I am mourning the loss of a life.

It didn’t take her long to consume me too. I admit sometimes I don’t know what to do with her, I just know we could never do without her. We depend on her to meet the needs of our family. Not just financially but physically and emotionally. She has made us completely reliant on God for our success. We may seem harsh, but we have to feed the nation. We have failed her by not defending her as much as we should. Because of her we make a difference in this world, in your world.

She is not a factory, she is family. She is farming.

Not a place, not a hobby, not a job. She is a passion, a calling; she is the life of a farmer.
Copyright 2014 Whitney Tilley

Tennessee Youth Invited to Participate at TCA Convention & Trade Show

Attention students! You are invited to participate in special youth activities on Saturday, January 17 in Murfreesboro during the 30th annual Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association’s Convention and Trade Show.

TN FFA-youth dayWe will begin the morning with registration and youth are encouraged to attend Cow College 4: “Beef Environmental Myths” by Dr. Jude Capper at the Embassy Suites Hotel. After her presentation, those younger kids can participate in a trade show scavenger hunt. Also, high school students from across Tennessee are welcome to show-off their knowledge at the 2015 Youth Quiz Bowl Contest. This event is to help foster teamwork, self-confidence and education for Tennessee 4-H and FFA youth.

“FFA members are the next generation of cattlemen, consumers and advocates,” said Chelsea Rose, executive director of the Tennessee FFA Foundation. “If we want an informed next generation, we must expose youth to the industry now. The Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association Convention is the perfect venue to do just that. FFA is thankful for the opportunity to network with and learn from cattlemen from across the state during the event.”

While students are waiting on their turn at the Quiz Bowl, they can attend two 30-minute workshops. One of the workshops will be presented by Lou Nave, executive director of Farm Animal Care Coalition of Tennessee. She will discuss ways in which those involved in animal agriculture are to handle misinformed and misguided public opinions.

Animal Agriculture is under attack,” said Nave. “There is an entire generation who does not know what we do in agriculture.  It is imperative that we know what is being said about livestock production and our producers and how we can tell our story.”

The other workshop will be led by Lauren Chase, Director of Communications for the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association. She will teach students how to tell the agriculture story by using social media.

“Having a social media presence is becoming more and more necessary for cattle producers and beef advocates,” said Chase. “Everyone involved in agriculture should be using these tools to market our industry.”

Following the Quiz Bowl and workshops, students will board a bus for lunch at Lane Agri-Park. During this afternoon session, attendees will hear from FFA leadership and past and current Tennessee Beef Ambassadors on “how to be a beef leader.” At 2:45 p.m. everyone heads back to the Embassy Suites Hotel.

If you would like to sign up for the youth events and/or Quiz Bowl, please visit to register. The deadline is Dec. 19.

Jefferson County FFA Member Wins National Title

In October, Lindsey Rutherford of the Jefferson County Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter placed first in the National Veterinary Science Proficiency competition during the 87th National FFA Convention in Louisville, KY.

Lindsey Rutherford shares a big smile after being awarded the first place plaque for the Veterinary Science Proficiency Award.

Lindsey Rutherford shares a big smile after being awarded the first place plaque for the Veterinary Science Proficiency Award.

Lindsey represented her chapter by bringing home the Veterinary Science Proficiency Award. Veterinary Science, an area that is Lindsey’s passion and has been since the age of five, is where a student owns the enterprise, or works for a business that includes working with veterinarians in clinical practice, research facilities, colleges of veterinary medicine, animal health industry or any other environment in which they assist veterinarians in performing duties related to the health of people and/or the health and welfare of large and small animals


Lindsey began working with a large animal veterinarian in high school and has developed an increasing ability to diagnosis and treat animal illnesses. She plans on majoring in animal science in college and becoming a veterinarian. Lindsey is the daughter of Ken and Terri Rutherford and is advised by Mike Maples, Adam Martin and Jim Satterfield of the Jefferson County FFA Chapter.

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. Nationally, there are 606,510 FFA members, aged 12-21. The Tennessee FFA Association is comprised of more than 13,000 members from 213 high school chapters, 7 middle school chapters and 8 collegiate chapters across the state of Tennessee. To learn more about FFA visit



Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association to Hold 30th Annual Convention and Trade Show

The 2015 Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association’s (TCA) Annual Convention and Trade Show will meet January 15-17 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. Attendees will hear from top cattle industry speakers addressing herd health, sustainability, forage systems, and beef cattle business. There will also be an update on current public policy issues from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

Speakers will include McDonald’s Director of Sustainability, Susan Forsell, and Dr. Dennis Hancock, Forage Specialist at the University of Georgia. Dr. Jude Capper, Livestock Sustainability Consultant, will debunk beef environmental myths and Dr. Rick Funston from the University of Nebraska will focus on increasing reproductive efficiency through proper management. There will also be a live video auction of over 1,000 cattle on the tradeshow floor.

73380_541668275850850_544032816_n“We are very excited about having some of the industry’s best and brightest sharing insight with us,” said Jerry Greene, TCA’s president and a cattle producer in Hickman County. “This should be one of the best conventions we’ve had.”   This year’s trade show is one of the largest cattle-only trade shows in the southeast. Vendors will be showing off new products, services, and the latest technology for the beef industry. The trade show will open Jan. 16 at 9:15 a.m.

On Saturday, there will be a special opportunity for the youth participate in activities including a quiz bowl, scavenger hunt, workshops on animal agriculture and social media, how to be a beef leader and information on farm animal care.

For a full schedule of events, click here.

Pre-registration is $10 per day. This includes admission to all Cow Colleges, the trade show, and the Best of Beef Reception on Friday afternoon. Lunch is extra. Pre-registration ends Jan. 8. Late registration and registration at the door will be an additional $10 over pre-registration fees.

Attendees should register by calling the TCA office at (615) 896-2333 or by downloading and mailing in the online form. For hotel reservations, call the Embassy Suites Hotel at (615) 890-4464 or online:

TO DOWNLOAD THE REGISTRATION FORM, CLICK HERE. Please complete the form and mail to:

Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association

530 B Brandies Circle

Murfreesboro, TN 37128

For more information visit, email or call (615) 896-2333. Be sure to follow the TCA on our Facebook page and Twitter.

Three Cattle Producers Join Tennessee Beef Industry Council Board of Directors

The Tennessee Beef Industry Council (TBIC) is pleased to welcome Michael Simpson of McMinnville, Gary Daniel of Cypress Inn, and Terry Snyder of Mountain City to its Board of Directors.

Michael and Stacey Simpson of McMinnville, TN.

Michael and Stacey Simpson of McMinnville, TN.

Simpson manages the day-to-day operations of his family’s Warren County Livestock sale barn in McMinnville, TN. He also is a cow-calf producer and runs a stocker cattle business. He and his wife Stacey are raising their four children who are all under the age of nine. While on the TBIC Board of Directors, Simpson represents the Tennessee Livestock Marketing Association.

“I can tell already that this Board has a true heart for the beef industry and is really trying to conduct business the right way,” said Simpson. “I am thrilled to be a part of something that does our industry good.

Snyder is the owner and manager of Snyder Cattle Company in Mountain City, TN where he backgrounds feeder cattle and is the retired manager of Tri State Growers, Inc. He and his wife Diana raised their two children who are Brian and Candida. While on the TBIC Board of Directors, Snyder represents the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation.

“I’ve been involved in the cattle business my whole life and consider it to be a privilege to serve and give back to it,” said Snyder.

Daniel is a cow-calf producer and is passionate about helping the beef community educate consumers.

“We have the greatest staff and Board at the TBIC. The Beef Checkoff is great for the beef industry, adding value of $11 for every $1 collected. I look forward to being involved with decisions on how best to spend the promotional dollars and the opportunity to enhance beef’s message in Tennessee,” said Daniel.

Gary Daniel

Gary Daniel of Cypress Inn, TN.

The TBIC Board is made up of 12 Directors and two advisors. These cattlemen and women represent entities across the state of Tennessee and are put in place to help direct promotion and education of beef to consumers.

“The TBIC continues to be blessed with outstanding leadership,” said Valerie Bass, executive director of the TBIC. “The men and women that serve on this board are dedicated to making the right and best decisions when managing producer dollars.”

For more information on the TBIC, please visit and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter: @TNBeefCouncil.


Heifer Scholarships Awarded to Deserving Youth in Tennessee

Three Tennessee youth were awarded the Kenneth Ambrose Memorial Heifer Scholarship recently during the Martin Farms Open House at the Farm September 26-27 in Lyles. Collin Stanley of College Grove, Aaron Lay of Madisonville, and Lindsey Parsley of Readyville each received a $1,500 scholarship toward the purchase of a Simmental or SimAngus heifer from the Open House offering. Scholarship donors were Martin Farms, Water’s Edge Farm of Franklin, and Slate Farms & Cattle of Vanleer.

2014 Kenneth Ambrose Heifer Scholarship Finalists

2014 Kenneth Ambrose Heifer Scholarship Finalists


Founders Neil and Christopher Martin started their Heifer Starter Kit program in 2006, enlisting additional donors in 2012 when the program was renamed the after their late friend and mentor, Kenneth Ambrose. Ambrose was a former University of Tennessee agricultural extension agent and a great enthusiast for the 4-H youth livestock program.

After submitting an application and a project representing the applicant’s interests and involvement in the beef industry, eleven finalists were invited to Lyles for panel interviews September 26. Other finalists included Sydney Brady of Cleveland; Riley Bright, Rockwood; Hayden Campbell of Roseland, Virginia; Cole Ledford, Cleveland; Molly Ralston, Rockvale; Riley Reed, Lyles; and Kara Stofel, Columbia. Finalists evaluated cattle and made their selections based on phenotype, pedigree, and EPDs before facing a panel interview to discuss their selection criteria as well as their projects and plans to continue their involvement.

“The interview process gives us an opportunity to interact with the applicants and to learn more about their background and their plans,” says Chris Martin. “The intent is to encourage and foster participation in the beef project, and we try to make it an educational and enjoyable experience.”

Both Neil and Chris recognize the integral role mentors played in their experiences and involvement growing up on a farm where they were encouraged by leaders from the agricultural community. In 1964, Neil became the first FFA member from Hickman County to receive the American Farmer degree. Twenty-one years later, Chris was named a National 4-H Project Winner with Ambrose as his 4-H agent.

“Kenneth was directly responsible for a lot of kids becoming involved in 4-H, and he fueled their accomplishments by coaching them toward success,” says Christopher Martin. “This program recognizes and remembers Kenneth’s spirit and enthusiasm toward youth and agriculture.”

Additional donors who supported the initiative include Performance Feeds; ABS Global; Barry Ellis and Accelerated Genetics; Genex Cooperative; Select Sires; Patricia McDougal AI Services; Cattlemen’s Choice Genetics; Farm Credit Mid America; Mix 30 Liquid Feeds; Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association; and Jane Herron State Farm. An online semen auction hosted by prior to Martin’s Open House raised additional funds to help alternates purchase a heifer of their own. Seven alternates purchased heifers out of the Open House sale, using vouchers worth $422 each toward their purchase.

Anyone interested in applying for 2015 Kenneth Ambrose Memorial Heifer Scholarship can visit for more information.



10 Reasons to be a Member of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association

If you’re wondering why being a member of the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association is important…or why you should pay to be involved, let some of the TCA Directors give you the top 10 reasons:

Tennessee Cattlemen's Association

1. “There are so few of us involved in the cattle industry that it is vital that we work together to make our voice known. The TCA provides a voice for the cattlemen and women in Tennessee.” – Jennifer Houston, Sweetwater

2. “We are stronger together than separate.” – Dale Woods, Morrison

3. “To be a part of a unique group representing cattlemen and women…who are striving to better the cattle industry through training, teaching and supporting youth…this helps the future of the cattle industry.” – Chris Gossett, Franklin

The Simpson family of McMinnville, TN.

The Simpson family of McMinnville, TN.

4. “TCA enables my voice to be heard on issues concerning the cattle business.” – Gary Daniel, Cypress Inn

5. “Great promotion of Tennessee beef cattle and we get to learn ways to provide wholesome and safe source of protein for the consumer.” – David Brashears, Lenoir City

6. “If you care about something you need to be involved to better that area. If not, someone else may destroy what you care about.” – Michael Brown, Afton

7. “It’s good to have a group to organize and learn about what is changing in our cattle industries so they can help us producers be successful and to move forward in our businesses.” – Kirk Daniel, Covington

8. “Cattlemen and women are such a small portion of the population. It is important to be a member of a strong group that is speaking for and representing the industry.” – Johnny Woolfolk, Jackson

9. “To stay informed on rapid changes in beef production and to have an advocate beyond our farm gates.” – Dr. Justin Rhinehart, Columbia

10. “I’m involved because I get to learn what TCA does behind the screens with legislation, that has a direct impact on our businesses and way of life.” – Doug Dawkins, Knoxville

Be part of something special. Be part of a group that has your back. Join the Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association today for only $30/year. Getting a membership is easy. Just call the office at (615) 896-2333.

With your membership, you’ll also receive Tennessee Cattle Business magazine monthly, delivered to your mailbox. This publication includes cattle production articles written by UT extention specialists, feature stories on cattle producers making a difference and association news.

Be sure to follow TCA on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.