Josh Simpson learned about beef cattle as a child visiting his mother’s family in north Monroe County on school breaks.
“We worked the cows with the dogs, moving them to pasture,” Josh said. “That’s when I got interested in cattle.”
His experience and commitment to success with cattle over the years earned his family the honor of being named the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Beef Division of the Alabama Farmers Federation for 2012.
Josh was raised on a row-crop farm. Today, he, his wife, Amanda, and their three children live in his childhood home in Excel. Peanuts and cotton surround the house. A few fields away is the Simpsons’ cattle herd, which they began in 2001 with just four cows.
“We love the cows,” Amanda said. “We want to continue to grow and would love to have a nice size cattle operation.”
At their farm, the row-crops and cattle complement each other.
“I grow all my grazing,” Josh said. “I have some wheat and oats I put up, and after harvest, the cattle glean the cotton.”
Josh and Amanda have known each other most of their lives, but when they married, Amanda was new to life on the farm.
“This has been an awakening experience for me, but I love it,” she said. “It’s just a routine you have to get used to.”
Part of that routine calls for flexibility, even on special occasions. One Valentine’s Day, an emergency situation with a pregnant cow kept Josh out in the field all day. Farm life doesn’t stop, not even for the birth of a child.
“It seems like every time we’ve had a baby, there’s also been a cow or horse being born,” Amanda said. “So while we were in Mobile having a baby, there was an animal up here having a baby, too.”
The couple’s three children, Drew, 7, Jack, 6, and Cate, 3, enjoy farming, and Amanda said they are starting to appreciate their father’s work.
The couple said family is a large part of their success. Amanda is a full-time schoolteacher at Monroe Academy, and her mom watches the children during the school year. Josh’s mom keeps the farm’s books and helps with taxes. His father and other family members help check on cattle or assist during harvest season.
The Simpsons are active in the Monroe County Young Farmers group and the Monroe County Cattleman’s Association. They attend Excel Assembly of God, where Amanda also teaches Sunday school.