Leaders in Ag celebrated in 2018
Allen and Tina Evans named Farmer of the Year, serve as examples of agriculture in Polk County
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.”
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.
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.