Kent Carter dedicated most of his life to the military and now, he and his family have settled on a farm in Philadelphia, TN where they raise cattle and goats. He loves his life on the farm, especially having the ability to have his many grandchildren visit and learn about livestock. Read our Q&A with Kent on today’s blog…
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle?
My wife Dawn’s grandfather had cattle in Sevierville, TN all of his life. My wife tells stories about the time she spent with her grandfather and grandmother on the farm. Special memories and occasionally around the dinner table with her parents you will hear the remember when stories always farm related.
As a family we have just been at it for the past 4 years. It’s been a steep learning curve. I retired from the military after 20 years and deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. The first year here was spent fencing and building a corral, as well as applying lime and fertilizing the fields. By spring, we had picked up 4 bred Angus heifers and a black baldy calf. Later that year, we got 2 Hereford heifers. There were a lot of trials that first year, our breed heifers turned out not to be, and one that had aborted its fetus. With the help of the UT Extension agents, Master Beef Producer classes, goat programs with the NRCS and Dr. Beason, we have used artificial insemination to improve our small herd. We also fenced out the creek to help the environment and installed a frost free water tank which helps us out considerably. Along with the cows, we have had goats, pigs, chickens dogs and cats.
Tell us about your farm today.
We have scaled back this year. and are down to a small cow calf operation and our small layer flock.
What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
When I was young, I spent time at my cousin’s farm in Indiana and since then, I have always wanted to live on a farm.
Having little experience with large animals required us to build handling facilities. Also, we learned to give vaccines and even pulling a breach calf this winter.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
Hard work is good for the soul. There is a lot of satisfaction in interacting with livestock, as well as pride in being a good steward of the land and animals.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
After 20 years of military service and 10 years of government contract work, I can sit down to dinner every night with meat and vegetables that we’ve raised with our own hard work. To sit on the porch and watch the cows in the evening is a very good feeling.
My experience is limited, but I’d say this: Don’t get discouraged. There are going to be difficulties like sick and injured animals along the way. Read as much as you can about animal health and livestock and learn as much as possible.
What’s your favorite beef dish?
Rib eye on the grill is great!
Is there anything else you can share with us?
Our second calf born this past fall was to our black baldy. She had it while we were out that day. We were so excited that she had her calf with no issues. Then 2 days later, I got a call that the calf is down in the ditch with scours. By the time I got home, my 70-year-old mother in-law has got the calf back to its mom and into the shade. She was covered with manure. We tubed the calf with electrolytes which was something I had never done before. The vet came and prescribed medication. It was a scary but gratifying situation to be able to save the calf’s life.
Also, we have 7 grandchildren and it is always fun to watch them with the animals. They get so excited. The baby animals are a big hit with kids. Teaching them to not be afraid of the animals and how to handle them is always fun. One of our little granddaughters was afraid of the chickens at first, but after a while of being with them and being able to pet them, she loved it. We hand raised the chickens. Our chickens will let you pick them up carry them around. All the kids love the goats. I am not sure what is the cutest: the baby goat or the smile they put on a grandchild’s face as they play together. It is also a lot of fun to watch the kids when we bring the baby goats in the house. Yes, that is not a typo we have had the baby goats in the house.