Farm & Ranch Living

FARMING WAS HIS TRUE CALLING

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My father, B.J. Pigott, retired after working more than 30 years for the New Orleans Furniture Co. in Columbia, Mississipp­i, but he was a farmer through and through.

He farmed all his life and was so gifted at it, relying on knowledge, skill, intuition, the Farmers’ Almanac and basic tools. He had to abandon school as a child and help out on his family’s farm, and though he only had a fourth grade education, he was a very smart man.

After my father’s shift ended at his day job, and on weekends, too, he’d come home and labor at his true passion. On weekends he would get up before sunrise and work in his field—in long sleeves and often in extreme heat—until nightfall. The only time he took a break was when it rained.

Not once did I ever hear him complain or say he was tired of farming, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood why. He was doing what he loved. Farming was his true calling.

As children, we spent summer breaks helping our father plant and harvest crops that included peas, greens, squash, beans, okra, onions, corn, cucumbers, potatoes, peanuts, tomatoes and watermelon. We kept some, shared some with neighbors and sold some at market. We also raised cows, chickens, pigs and goats.

To be perfectly honest, we didn’t like giving up our summer vacations every year and getting up before sunrise to go out into the fields. But a few years ago, I overheard my father talking to a neighbor. He said part of the reason he farmed was so he could keep his children out of trouble. It certainly worked—after laboring outside, we were too tired to do anything else.

One spring, about a year before my father died, I took a trip back home to Sandy Hook, Mississipp­i. And there was Dad, in the field early in the morning, 88 years old, in long sleeves and playing tug of war with the hard, dry ground.

I am enormously proud that he was able to keep doing the work he loved until nearly the end of his life. And today, I would give just about anything for some of my father’s homegrown vegetables.

Not once did I ever hear him complain or say he was tired of farming, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I understood why.

1. A PROUD PAIR Our son Sam saw his father on a leisurely horseback ride, so he grabbed his own hat and horse and ran out to join Dad. When my husband saw him, he rode over to say hello. Such a sweet exchange over the fence line.

SARAH DAWSON

SUMMERVILL­E, GA

2. FULL HEARTS

My husband, son and grandsons were moving hay bales into the barn. The four of them worked so hard that day, but everyone worked with a happy heart, as we’ve always taught our children to do in life.

ANN MARIE EBERHART

GIG HARBOR, WA

3. SKILL SHARING My great-grandchild Addy helped her dad, Terry Krabill, work on the carburetor for a John Deere MT. Terry grows hay for horses and cows, and he’s great about sharing his knowledge and know-how with his only child.

JEAN MILLER

JOHN DAY, OR

4. FIELD SCHOOL Calving season is hectic, but teaching our kids how to care for animals is a great reason to slow down. Jessica Whitaker (of Infinity Photograph­y by Jess) snapped this image, and I think her work captures the sentiment well.

MELANIE FAIRCLOTH

MARIANNA, FL

 ?? JOANN PIGOTT HOUSTON, TEXAS ?? Joann’s dad, B.J., grew up farming and tended the land throughout his life, prioritizi­ng it for himself and for his family.
JOANN PIGOTT HOUSTON, TEXAS Joann’s dad, B.J., grew up farming and tended the land throughout his life, prioritizi­ng it for himself and for his family.
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