By Melinda Perkins, TCA Intern
This week’s Farm Feature Friday may be young but he is wise beyond his years when it comes to the cattle industry. Aaron Loy from Jefferson County has taken many valuable things away from his time growing up on a beef cattle farm—including Kindergarten story time content and an appreciation for a good loan officer. In this week’s Farm Feature Friday, Aaron shares with us his practical and down to earth perspective on his operation and the cattle industry.
Q: How long has your family been involved in raising cattle? Tell us about how it got started.
A: My great-great-grandfather, George P. Loy, purchased approximately 3,000 acres in the Rocky Valley area in 1867, and so began Loy Stock Farm. This was part of a larger land grant which resulted from the Civil War. Most of this land was lost during the Great Depression and my great-grandfather traded cattle to purchase some of it back.
Along with this, he also purchased additional land from outside the family during the 1940’s. Although my family began with a very diversified operation of crops and livestock, cattle have always remained our main commodity.
Q: Tell us about your farm today (breed of cattle, what are you proud of, etc.)
A: Today, my father and I farm approximately 600 acres with additional ground rented for hay and winter pasture. We normally stock around 180-200 mature commercial cows and retain 20-25 replacement heifers from each calf crop. Our commercial cows are mostly Angus/Hereford crosses which we breed to registered Angus or Hereford bulls. Our calving season falls between mid-October and late November. Through showing Horned Hereford cattle in 4-H, I began developing my own herd of registered cattle from which I aim to sell bulls each year. We only utilize outside labor for large jobs such as working or weaning calves. However, the “everyday jobs” are done by my father and myself.
Q: What was your favorite part about growing up on the farm?
A: While most kids were at daycare or with a babysitter, I was able to go out and “work” on the farm with my Dad and Grandfather. This allowed me to learn something new every day and develop an appreciation for the cattle business early in life. Experiences like castrating calves or palpating cows also provided great content for Kindergarten story time. Anytime my Grandfather asked what I wanted to be when I grew up my answer was always the same. I wanted to be a “cattleman”. Although individuals that don’t get the opportunity to grow up on a farm can and should appreciate agriculture, there is just something special about being raised in the industry and getting to farm every single day of your life.
Q: What have been some of the trials you or your family has had to overcome?
A: By far, my family’s greatest challenge to endure was my Grandfather’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease from 2010-2014. Not only was it a challenge to care for him while maintaining operations on the farm but also to see the disease take away his ability to do what he loved. He had been a cattleman his entire 84 years of life and truly loved it. My grandfather, G.W. Loy, built a life and career as a true stockman. I have heard many describe him as a premier cattleman who operated with honesty, integrity, and faith. There has certainly not been another person who has inspired me in life and in my career as much as he did.
Q: What is one thing you wish more people knew about life on the farm?
A: If there was one thing I would like to convey to those disconnected from agriculture it would be that it isn’t 100% about the paycheck for the producers. Although producers want to earn a fair price for their products and a fair living, there is also a sense of responsibility to produce quality livestock regardless of how much profit it renders. Many producers, like myself, want to tell the story of agriculture in a way that consumers understand but don’t always have the platform to reach them. We must rely on organizations such as Farm Bureau and Tennessee Cattlemen’s to share our story.
Q: What does it mean to you to be able to work with your family every day?
A: Just like anyone else that works with family will tell you, it has its advantages and disadvantages. There will always be differences in opinions but in my situation, I trust that Dad has the experience to know better than me (most of the time) and hopefully he trusts that I can bring new ideas to the operation from time to time too. For the most part, we have been working together for so long we normally have the same train of thought.
Q: Do you have any advice for young Tennessee cattle producers about the business?
A: If you have a serious desire to have a career in the cattle industry then don’t let time slip by without giving it a try. Never sit still. If you aren’t working, at least be thinking of ways to improve your operation. Perhaps most importantly keep a loan officer close to your heart.
Q: What’s your favorite beef dish?
A: It would definitely have to be a medium rare ribeye produced right here on the farm.