Farming. What comes to your mind when you hear the word “farming”? Most people probably think of cow manure, dirty boots, and hard work that never ends. When I think of farming I think about endless opportunities the industry can offer me. When I was eight years old I became a Jolly Workers 4-H club member. I showed cattle for 10 years and participated in various activities throughout my 4-H career. Growing up in a small farming community I have always loved working on the family farm. The farm life has taught me how to become a responsible adult, I have gained many life-long friends and have experienced so many great opportunities.
At the career fair held at WIU last fall, I had come across the greatest opportunity yet. I had introduced myself to Larry Joe O’Hern and Matt Taylor. I knew who Mr. O’Hern was at the time, so I went and spoke with him for a while. It wasn’t until I sent a follow-up thank you letter to O’Hern Stockfarms that is when I was asked to go out for an interview. I started working at O’Hern Stockfarms in Vermont, IL in late October of last year, I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work on the ranch. Honestly I was not expecting to get hired because I am female and they were looking to hire on a full-time barn manager.
After working with a bunch of men for about six months I have learned that I am no different than one of the guys. That is what I love most about my job, they do not treat me like a little girl. I feel that my dedication and passion for the cattle industry has helped me everyday out at the ranch. I do not think of my occupation as a farm hand, work, I like to call it a lifestyle. I have learned not to be nervous working with the guys’ they have taught to be more confident in myself and that I can do anything.
Since being there I have been told that there were second thoughts about hiring me, they did not think a girl would be a good fit for the job. So far I think I have proved to them that a girl can work just as hard as the boys. We work together on the majority of the projects, but I feel I bring a few extra things to the farm by being a female. For instance, I would like to think I am more nurturing towards baby calves than the men are. I spend more time taking care of the bucket calves. I spend extra time brushing the horses out when I feed them. I feel that the caring aspect from a female and male are different, I care about all the animals at the farm. I like to take extra time to ensure that all the animals are happy and healthy before I end my work day. I am so thankful to have had the chance to work with the guys, I have learned so much from them about cattle farming and just everyday life.
“The most important thing people did for me was expose me to new things”-Temple Grandin
I am Presley Barr currently a senior at Western Illinois University, I will graduate in May of this year with a Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture with a focus in Animal Science. I am from Lewistown, Illinois. I live on 600 acres of Spoon River bottom ground where I have grown up in the livestock industry and will continue to grow and gain more experience and continue to learn about livestock. I plan to manage my family’s farm one day. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my blog.