In Tennessee, we have dedicated cattle producers working to raise the best beef they can, caring for the land and livestock…and providing a good life for their families. Today, we feature one of them: Abigayle Pollock. She is the current Tennessee Junior Beef Ambassador. Read about her love for the livestock and for her life on the farm…
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
We owned one dairy-beef steer when I was 3 years old, but at the time, our farm was mainly centered around horses. When the horse market started to decline, we sold our horses and bought 6 head of commercial beef cattle with a strong influence of Black Angus. Over the past 10 years, we have grown to a cow-calf operation of about 40 head. When I was 8 years old, my sister and I bought our first heifer with a little help from our parents. We’ve come to find that this was an excellent investment for us and a great industry to be involved in.
Tell us about your farm today.
Currently, my family owns about 40 head of cattle. When my sister and I started showing, we found our love for the Shorthorn breed. Because of this, we purchased a Shorthorn Bull to cross with our commercial Black Angus cattle. Our commercial herd is stationed in Stella, Tennessee and our show cattle are located at our operation in Taft, Tennessee. We work hard to produce quality Shorthorn Plus show heifers and steers, and also strive to produce quality beef for consumers.
What was your favorite part about growing up on a farm?
I love every aspect of living on a farm, but I would have to say my favorite part would definitely have to be calving season. I love the suspense of waiting on a cow to have her calf and the excitement of discovering a healthy, newborn calf with it’s mother. Especially during calving season, I’ve seen life both begin and end on the farm, which has taught me to cherish every moment I have, to appreciate life, and to expect the unexpected.
What have been some trials that you and your family have had to overcome?
One of the trials we have had to overcome was finding out the best way to “balance the budget”. Our goal is for the farm to be self sufficient, or pay for itself. Sometimes this can be difficult when unexpected events happen that require large sums of money to fix, cure, or correct.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
I wish people knew that most farmers aren’t in the business just for the money. They do it because it’s what they love and have a passion for. Knowing we put good food on someone’s table makes every minute of hard work completely worth it.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family everyday?
Whether it’s vaccinating cattle, checking calves, or showing our cattle, I know we’ll always have a good time. We’ve grown so much closer as a family by being involved in the beef industry. Raising and producing beef as well as maintaining show calves isn’t a one man job. It takes each person working together and filling in when needed to get the job done. Around my house, owning a beef operation is certainly a family affair.
Do you have any advice for a fellow young Tennessee cattle producer about the business?
Stay determined. Yes, there will be some rough times, but it’s essential to keep going and never give up. You’ll never forget life on a farm and the experiences you’ll have. Knowing I have to go to college in a little over a year has made me realize just how much I’m going to miss waking up to check cows and feed every morning.
What does it mean to you to be the Tennessee Junior Beef Ambassador?
Being the Tennessee Junior Beef Ambassador has increased my passion for the beef industry tremendously. It’s an honor to serve as a voice for Tennessee’s beef industry, and it is by FAR my favorite thing I have been involved with. Being a Junior Beef Ambassador means sharing your story as well as the beef industry’s story no matter where you are, and being an advocate for agriculture as a whole.
Why is this program so important?
It’s both surprising and disappointing to see that a lot of people have no idea where their food comes from. When I ask elementary kids where their hamburgers come from, too many yell “the grocery store!” It is a Beef Ambassador’s job to share with them how we produce the healthy, safe, and quality beef that is put on their table. The public has so many misconceptions about the beef industry. The Beef Ambassador Program teaches teenagers to advocate for the beef industry by learning how to correct these misconceptions in a positive way that is easy for the consumer to understand.