Thursday, April 16, 2009

Family's farming roots

Although Jake has been an entrepreneur in agribusinesses such as starting the grain elevator here and raising hogs as a young man, he never ventured too far from his roots as a dirt farmer. "My grandfather was my hero," he said. "He and his brother, Jim, came from Hillsboro by covered wagon in 1903 and purchased land which remains in the family today".

"I owe everything I own to the perseverance of Grandpa. My grandparetns first bought 500 acres of brush-covered land 2.5 miles north of Vancourt for $2.50 per acre. They cleared the land and four years later purchased addition adjoining land for $7 per acre. My dad and his brother, Sam, helped Grandpa raise cotton, milo and registered Hereford cattle on the stockfarm," Jake said.
"Before they owned a tractor, they broke the cropland with mule-drawn plows. At harvest time, they would have to pull the cotton bolls by day, and at night they would pull the cotton out of the bolls." From those early years to the present generation, the advancement of technology and diversification has brought changes to the Powell farm.
Irrigation and modern harvesters have not only increased the proficiency of production, but genetically improved cotton varieties have increased the yield.
"My family was born with farming in their blood. My grandfather also liked the ranching business. He had 100 head of registered Hereford. My father also liked the cattle business. When I started working with my father, he sort of turned the farming over to me and he stayed with the cattle. Actually, I was in my second year at Southwest State College in San Marcos when my father was in the hospital with back problems. I came home to keep the farm going and never went back to college".
"I have always loved farming. I enjoy watching the crops grow. It is unique that all of the land purchased by my grandfather remains all together. Between my cousin, and I, we are still operating it. I concentrate on farming only."
"I also had ranching interest for years in Menard and Concho counties, but sold that property several years ago. I also tried several ventures early in my life which no doubt helped hold on to the farm. I had a 200-sow confinement operation in the 1960s and 1970s and sold most of the swine. In 1974, with partners, we built and operated the Vancourt Grain Elevator. I was running the hog operation during the same period, so I was mixing the hog feed, which saved on input costs. The farm has good water wells, so irrigation was installed about 25 years ago. It is ideal for this part of the country where we have more dry years than rainy ones. With the Pivot Irrigation Systems, there is always something green and growing on 650 acres of farmland".

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