By Melinda Perkins, TCA Intern
Memories, life lessons, and quality family time are at the heart of the Dillard family’s cattle operation in Smith County. Bob and Sandra Dillard, and their daughters, Hallie and Morgan Dillard Hearn, take pride in continuing their family’s cattle production legacy. In this Q&A session, Morgan shares her most fond memories from growing up on the farm and the desire that she and her husband, Brady, have for making those same memories with their daughter, Eva Hartwell.
How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started. Raising cattle has been part of the Dillard family for many years. Generations before me started raising cattle, and it was up to our family to continue this legacy.
Tell us about your farm today. The farm today is the same as it was then. The land we run our cattle on has been in the family for many years. However, our production of farming has changed. We no longer grow tobacco. We mainly focus on raising registered Angus, Shorthorn, and Simmental cattle and spoiling show heifers. Our family has been showing cattle for 15 years. With my younger sister nearing the end of her show career, we hope that our newest edition, Eva Hartwell, will follow in our footsteps.
What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm? Memories on the farm are my most favorite part of growing up on the farm. For years it was just me, mom, and dad. Then came my sister. We learned hard work and dedication. We learned that cows were hungry even when it was snowing. We learned that success in the show ring was made at home in the barn. We learned it didn’t come easy. It was actually very hard! We made tough work fun and tough circumstances a little more bearable just by being together!
What have been some of the trials you or your family have had to overcome? The good Lord has blessed us beyond what we deserve. Trials on the farm have been very few. Mashed fingers, stepped on toes, and wasp stings have been the majority of difficulties to overcome. Growing up my dad would always tell me that if it only happened in the barn then everything would be okay. Learning how to handle watching your favorite show heifer walk into the ring for the last time or hearing that your first show heifer from 15 years ago isn’t going to make it has taught me how to better handle loss in life. Trials on the farm come, cattle grow old and calving difficulties arise, but the lessons we learn are more rewarding than any of the trails we experience.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm? Life on the farm is a very hard job. It doesn’t matter how cold or how tired you are, the cattle still need to be tended to, hay still needs to be put out, and water troughs still need to be busted. However, through all the hard work and dedication farming, in my opinion, is one of the most rewarding aspects of life.
What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day? Togetherness. This sums up my feelings for farm life. While many families are busy playing sports or one parent taking one child here and another someone different; we have always been together. Whether we were showing cattle or vaccinating cattle, we did it as a family: Mom, Dad, My sister, and I.
Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business? Work hard and do what you love, the rest will take care of itself.
What’s your favorite beef dish? A big juicy steak!
Is there anything else you can share with us? Life on the farm reminds me of the simpler and sweeter things in life. Skipping rocks at the creek, riding the gator with your family, hauling hay, washing show heifers, and even mending fences makes the negativity of the world disappear and life seem simple and a little sweeter, even if only for a little while. Farming really is the best way of life!