Regina Carnes enjoys talking about how she and her husband, Mike, developed lasting friendships with other farm families through the Alabama Farmers Federation. It began in the late ‘70s when Dan Smalley, who was Marshall County Farmers Federation Young Farmers chairman at the time, helped organize a Young Farmers program and asked the Carneses to attend.
“Back then, society wasn’t as mobile, and it was sometimes hard for young couples to meet other young farmers,” Regina recalled. “We knew several young farmers in our area but being part of the Federation gave us a purpose and a reason to get together. Now, through the Federation, we have friends all over the state. It’s been great.”
Those friendships, and the Carneses’ continued involvement with the Federation, landed Regina leadership roles on the county and state Women’s Leadership committees. In December, she was elected chair of the State Women’s Leadership Committee.
“I’m really honored,” Regina said. “We have some fantastic women who work hard on the state committee, and Kim Ramsey (Federation Women’s Leadership Division director) is the most organized person I know. She’s wonderful.”
Programs supported by the Women’s Leadership Division such as pop tab collections that benefit Ronald McDonald Houses and Agriculture in the Classroom are among Regina’s favorites. She also looks forward to the annual Women’s Leadership Conference in April, the Commodity Producers Conference in July and the Heritage Cooking Contest in September. Regina sees the Women’s Leadership Committee members as ambassadors for agriculture.
“I think the more we talk openly to people about what happens on our farms, the more the public will understand and appreciate what farmers do,” she said.
The Carneses live in Horton and have been married 38 years. They have a successful beef cattle and poultry farm. In addition to previously serving as Marshall County Farmers Federation president, Mike recently completed his ninth year on the Federation’s State Poultry Committee.
The Carneses have twin 31-year-old daughters, Jenna and Stefanie. Jenna and her husband, Ross Pinney, live in Columbus, Georgia. Stefanie and her husband, Josh Terrell, along with their 15-month-old son, Jacob, live across the road from the Carneses. Josh works on the farm with Mike.
Regina’s face lights up as she talks about her grandson. She said she revels at the thought of Jacob growing up on the farm.
“I think farm children learn good values and understand hard work,” she said. “I’m so happy to have him close by and to be able to keep him every day.”
Mike agrees with her evaluation of farm children.
“The biggest advantage farm children have is they appreciate things some people take for granted,” he said. “They understand where their food comes from and that someone had to grow it. Our girls knew we gave 110 percent no matter what we were doing.”
Regina said being a farm wife has its challenges — like never knowing when Mike will be in for supper. But it also has many rewards, she added.
“We love being together and working together,” she said. “Although we don’t work side by side every day like we did when we were younger, those tough times helped us stay close to each other.”