Lead­ers in Ag cel­e­brated in 2018

Allen and Tina Evans named Farmer of the Year, serve as ex­am­ples of agri­cul­ture in Polk County

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

All across the county, there’s a love and reliance on the land that con­tin­ues to im­pact life in many ways lo­cally. Whether it be the men and women who pull on their work boots be­fore dawn to get out and feed the cat­tle, or those who stay out past sun­down to make sure the crop is har­vested on time, agri­cul­ture re­mains both a pas­sion and job for hun­dreds of peo­ple in Polk.

It is no dif­fer­ent for the fam­ily of farm­ers in Tay­lorsville who this year rep­re­sent Polk County as the Farmer of the Year. It’s an honor that Allen and Tina Evans are proud to hold, but isn’t great cause for them to brag.

They’ve got hun­dreds of acres to man­age, and barely enough hours in the day to get ev­ery­thing done they need to do be­tween keep­ing up the corn and cot­ton crops they plant, or car­ing for the sheep and goats

in hill­side pas­tures close to their home. She jok­ingly said she has “too many” in her life to care for, but loves them all the same.

In just a few months, one of the busiest times of year come for her in Feb­ru­ary right be­fore moth­ers give birth to new lambs and kids.

“The goal for me is to keep it clean,” Tina Evans said. “I’m well known for clean fleeces.”

Split be­tween Bar­tow and Polk coun­ties, the Evans farm is made up of 800 acres of land mainly de­voted to hus­band Allen’s plant­ing sea­son. He’s a row crop­per of only cot­ton and corn in a ro­ta­tion to help en­sure the soil stays healthy, which makes keep­ing up the fam­ily’s two main mon­ey­mak­ers eas­ier to do.

Row crop­ping on the hun­dreds of acres of land is in the Evans’ blood. Allen fa­ther and grand­fa­ther worked the land as well, and now three gen­er­a­tions are back on the farm again as their son Craig, and grand­son Evan also help through the year on ev­ery­thing from plant­ing to driv­ing their trac­tor trailer and de­liv­er­ing lime to other farms ahead of spring to help con­di­tion the soil for the forth­com­ing year.

Tina on the other hand is re­spon­si­ble for the sheep and goats that pro­duce a va­ri­ety of wool that she washes, pro­cesses, spins and weaves her­self into yarn, fab­rics or fin­ished prod­ucts like a throw blan­ket for the couch.

She usu­ally keeps the wool a nat­u­ral color, but some­times will dye it as well. Much of what her an­i­mals – like the goats, which re­sem­ble sheep be­cause of their thick mo­hair fur -- pro­duce ends up on a whole­sale mar­ket and is sold to cus­tomers far and wide.

“It takes about 8 months for sheep to grow fleece, and for the goats about six months,” Tina Evans said. “You’ve got to wash it, and I don’t dye a lot of it. Most of it is nat­u­ral col­ors.”

Farm life is hard work. Ev­ery day re­quires the fam­ily to wake up early and tend to the live­stock or pre­pare for a day out in the fields. Tech­nol­ogy makes the job some­what eas­ier, but Allen said that he keeps the whole of the op­er­a­tion as ba­sic as pos­si­ble.

Es­pe­cially since the equip­ment the Evans use to plant, tend and har­vest their crop can cost hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars to re­place if it breaks, and they can’t fix it them­selves.

Al­ready, their fo­cus is on keep­ing the equip­ment run­ning smoothly as 2018 comes to a close. Dur­ing a re­cent visit to the farm, the Evans had their crops har­vested and fields empty for the time be­ing, and were at work in their shop. Their son Craig was busy weld­ing, and grand­son Evan along­side of­fer­ing his as­sis­tance as well.

The work they do has been go­ing on for gen­er­a­tions, and looks to con­tinue on for years to come.

When Tina joined the fam­ily busi­ness when she mar­ried Allen, his fa­ther Ivan and grand­fa­ther Fred Davis worked the land.

“I made din­ner (lunch) and hauled it out into the field, kept books and did pay­roll,” she wrote.

Tina did a lot more to help out on the land when she learned to drive the trac­tor and op­er­ate other equip­ment, and kept that up un­til her son Craig was old enough to learn to drive it him­self.

Then she was able to take on a new project to help sup­ple­ment the farm’s in­come: goats.

She said the work with the live­stock is just as hard as what she did in the fields pre­vi­ously, but in a dif­fer­ent way. Es­pe­cially as tech­nol­ogy has pre­sented Evans with a global mar­ket for their prod­ucts.

“It is def­i­nitely a lot harder with the mar­ket­ing,” she said. “I have cus­tomers in Canada, the U.S., be­fore that. But def­i­nitely with In­sta­gram and Face­book, it’s all over. There’s peo­ple who want it.”

She added this how­ever when it comes to farm­ing: no mat­ter what time of year, or whether it is deep in win­ter and snow fall­ing on the ground, or if the bugs are bit­ing in the muggy nights of sum­mer night, who­ever is keep­ing up the live­stock or tend­ing the fields has to get up and do the work.

“Very few peo­ple are will­ing to do that,” she said. “But you still have to do that no mat­ter what.”

The Evans was hon­ored ear­lier in the year as Farmer of the Year dur­ing an­nual cel­e­bra­tions lo­cally or­ga­nized by the Polk County Ex­ten­sion Of­fice.

Headed up by Ex­ten­sion Co­or­di­na­tor Ricky Ens­ley, the cel­e­bra­tion honors an­nu­ally those farm­ers who are model ex­am­ples of farm­ers in Polk County.

Ens­ley said that with­out a doubt, the Evans live up to that ex­am­ple ev­ery day.

“They are some of the best farm­ers we have in our com­mu­nity,” he said. “When peo­ple want to get into agri­cul­ture and want to know what it’s like, I point to the Evans and tell them they are who you should model your op­er­a­tion on.”

It might seem like end­less days of keep­ing up the land and their flocks, but what they love most of all is that con­nec­tion to where they live and what they pro­vide from their fields. The hard work they do means they might not get to take va­ca­tions ev­ery year or en­joy the finer things in life. But they find ful­fill­ment in rolling up their sleeves and get­ting the job done.

“Our motto is don’t die, get mar­ried or have a baby dur­ing plant­ing, lamb­ing or har­vest­ing,” Tina wrote. “We won’t be there.”

/ Kevin Myrick

Tina Evans holds up one of her furry friends - one of the sev­eral sheep and goats she keeps on the fam­ily’s Tay­lorsville farm - that pro­vides her ma­te­rial to spin and weave into blan­kets, or sell whole­sale.

/ Kevin Myrick

Allen and Tina Evans (cen­ter and right) were joined by son Craig (left) and grand­son Evan (up­per right) for a brief mo­ment of respite dur­ing the mid­dle of a busy day on their farm in the Tay­lorsville area. Allen and Tina were named Farm­ers of the Year for 2018.

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