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October 23, 2009   Email to Friend 

OYFF: Shellys Hoping Third Time's A Charm In 2009 Competition
By Debra Davis

The Shellys: Gaylan, Kaleigh, Alana, Drew, Valen and Angie with Breah.
With five kids and nearly 2,400 acres of row crops, there's never a dull moment for Gaylan and Angie Shelly of Atmore, but that suits them just fine. They love being busy, and they love farming.

It's been 10 years since they married and equally as long since Gaylan began farming on his own. The Shellys have twice been selected as division winners in the Outstanding Young Farm Family competition of the Alabama Farmers Federation, and they're hoping the third time's the charm. They are the 2009 Cotton Division winner and are among the six finalists vying for the OYFF title at the Federation's annual meeting in Mobile. Dec. 6.

The Shellys have five children: Valen, 9; Drew, 7; Alana, 5; Kaleigh, 18 months and Breah, four months. "The question I get asked the most is, 'Are they all yours?' and I just smile and say yes," Angie said.

In 2007, the Shellys were among the six finalists for the OYFF award, having won the Cotton Division Award earlier that year. In 2008, they were the Soybean Division winner.

"Even though we're the Cotton Division winner, we planted less cotton this year than in the past," Gaylan said. "We planted more corn, soybeans and wheat and dropped peanuts altogether. We can still use a rotation system with the grains and it seemed like there were more opportunities for profits with grain."

The Shellys planted 350 acres of cotton, 750 acres of corn and 1,400 acres of soybeans. They increased their profit margin over the last couple years by adding grain storage facilities and a trucking business, Gaylan said.

"We built the grain storage bins so we could have more control over when we sold our grain," Gaylan said. "Then the trucking made sense to me because it always seemed like I was waiting on a truck when my grain needed hauling."

Gaylan said selling corn to poultry feed companies has allowed him to receive additional money for his corn. "It allows me to cut out the middle man when I sell my corn directly to the end user," he said. "They're happy with my corn, and I get more money for my corn. That makes me happy."

Gaylan, 35, grew up in a farm family in Escambia County. He still farms with his dad, Arlan, and although they aren't partners, Gaylan said they share equipment and often help each other on their respective farms.

Both Gaylan and Angie said they like their children growing up on a family farm. Angie, 32, home schools the oldest children and is president of the local home school association. She said she particularly likes cotton harvest time when the weather is cooler and the children can play in the cotton.

For Gaylan, any time he can spend with his family is special, but admits with five children, they have to take turns going to work with him in the fields. "I guess my favorite time of year on the farm is when I spray the crops," he said. "That's the time of year I can look over everything and really see how the crops are doing."

This past year, the entire family got into the farming business. The corn planter skipped a large area in the middle of a field, and Gaylan said it would have been a shame to waste the fertilizer that already had been applied.

"So the kids planted watermelons," Angie said. "It was a great experience for them and for all of us really. They ended up with lots of watermelons. We took them to the farmers market and the kids sold lots of them. They sold some in the front yard where they had homemade signs. They were pretty good salesmen really, and they're already planning to do it again next year."

Gaylan said he wasn't surprised by how much the children liked the experience of growing and selling their own crop. "They've already got farming in their blood," he said with a smile.



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