Whoever said farming was “man’s work” never met Dallas County’s Wendy Yeager.
Yeager, 34, is the primary farmer in her family, managing around 540 acres of row crops and a busy household. She and her husband Jamie have two daughters, Casey, 5, and Lillian, 3. Jamie’s position as director of the Black Belt Research and Extension Center in Marion Junction keeps him away from their Orrville farm a good bit, but he always makes an effort to be there when it counts most.
“Jamie works hard at the office and at home on our farm,” Wendy said. “We both love farming, and his mind is consistently focused on how we can improve things and increase our efficiency. And when it’s time to harvest, he trades in the office chair for a seat on the tractor. We’re a good team.”
That teamwork mentality helped the Yeagers secure a position as Alabama’s Outstanding Young Farm Family in the Wheat & Feed Grains Division. Wendy and Jamie were both raised on farms in Alabama. They said their farming success comes from years of hard work and trial-and-error.
“Our roots run deep in farming, and it’s something we truly love. It’s our lifestyle, and even in the hard years, it’s something we would never trade,” Jamie said. “We’re not the only farmers in the state, and there are certainly areas we could improve. But, we’re learning as we go. Wendy has amazing drive and an eye for what the crops need. My experience with Extension has allowed me the opportunity to visit with [and learn from] farmers who maintain successful operations. We may not be doing things like our dads would, but we’re doing what we feel is right for our farm.”
Utilizing available technology is the main difference between the generations, Wendy said. To be as conservative as possible, the Yeagers use grid sampling and variable-rate application methods along with a GPS Lightbar Guidance system. They closely monitor growth rates of each crop row-by-row from the computer and in the field. Utilizing precision ag technologies has saved them time and money, both of which are critical to today’s young farmers.
“We could treat each acre of cotton or soybeans the same, but why do that when we have the capabilities of knowing exactly what each area needs?” Wendy explained. “It’s especially helpful during prime growth seasons, when weather — like heavy rainfall we’ve had this summer — could be washing away everything we’ve put on to encourage a good harvest. It better prepares us to plan for the future.”
Expanding their equipment is on the Yeagers’ list of things for the future, but it’s not all. The couple recently purchased 557-acres adjacent to their homestead, which includes barns and a house they plan to renovate and move into soon. They also hope to install an irrigation system and grain storage facility as resources permit.
“There’s always room to expand and improve,” Wendy said. “But we’re proud of what we have now, and I can’t imagine a blessing any better than working in God’s creation every day.”