Outstanding Young Farm Family – Peanuts
Some people have no problem waking up in the morning; others require a daily dose of caffeine. Three-year-old Reid Adams, however, likes to jump-start his day with a pep talk from his dad, Covington County farmer Chris Adams. “I just whisper ‘John Deere tractor, peanut inverter, big red farm truck,’ in his ear, and he’ll hop right out of bed,” said Chris. This morning ritual is a good indication Reid likely will follow in his daddy’s footsteps, just as Chris dreamed of being a part of his father’s trucking business.Even though his mother tried to persuade him otherwise, Chris was determined to be a trucker, too. But when his father passed away in 1992, Chris began farming with B.W. “Tommy” Thompson, and he soon changed his mind. After two years of working with Thompson while also attending college, Chris realized he loved to farm, but farming for someone else was not what he wanted to do. “I told Tommy eventually I was going to farm some land on my own.” Chris said. He continued to work with Thompson for five years and gradually acquired more land for his own use by renting from family members and neighbors. By 2000, Chris had enough land to begin farming on his own–just in time for one of the worst droughts in south Alabama history.”It was a helpless feeling just watching my crops burn up in the drought. When I worked with Tommy, we always battled the weather, but the weather was never like this,” Chris said. Despite last year’s disaster, Chris is optimistic about this season’s harvest. “This year’s crops have more potential than any other year I have seen,” said Chris. “This is probably the best stand we have ever had.” Chris attributes the success of this year’s crops to plentiful rains and his farmland spanning over a larger area. Chris said in previous years he has farmed in one small part of central Covington County, but with the addition of new land, his farm is now scattered over three counties. “We are bound to get rain somewhere on my farm,” Chris said.In 1995, Chris helped Thompson farm 1,000 acres in addition to growing 60 acres of his own cotton. The next year, Chris doubled his cotton acreage and planted 20 acres of peanuts. Finally at the end of 1999, Chris had the opportunity to expand his farm even more. Lloyd and Morgan Rodgers, brothers who owned L&M Farms in the northern part of Covington County (along with Lloyd’s son, Jimmy), built four layer houses and decided to rent 365 acres of their cropland to Chris. In the following year, Chris’s operation grew from 220 acres to 650 acres and jumped from 650 to 1,200 acres the next.Chris now farms 850 acres of cotton and 275 acres of peanuts. He also custom farms 110 acres of cotton and 75 acres of peanuts. He says he couldn’t handle much more than that. “I am about where I want to stay in terms of size of my operation. If my farm got any larger I would have to hire more help and put in more hours,” said Chris. His wife Natasha disagreed. “If Chris won the lottery, he would buy all the land he could and do nothing but farm around the clock,” Natasha said jokingly.Although Natasha has a full-time job as a social worker at the Covington County Department of Human Resources, Chris says she is still a big help on the farm. “She will bring me lunch, or drop me off at a field, or bring Reid to ride the tractor with me. I don’t know what I’d do without her.”Chris and Natasha attend Carolina Baptist Church where they both often work as nursery aides. Natasha teaches a class of five and six year-olds in Sunday school and serves on the children’s and literary committees for the church. This year the Adamses are the Outstanding Young Farm Family in the peanut division, but they are no strangers to the Alabama Farmers Federation. Chris has been a member of his county’s Young Farmers division since 1995, and this year is serving as vice president of the program.Chris said one day he hopes his son will want to take over the family farm, and from the look of things, Chris has nothing to worry about. Reid not only gets excited about farm equipment, but he already knows all about peanuts–what color they are and how they grow, and often helps his dad steer the tractor to harvest them. Chris is proud his son has an interest in agriculture. “Through farming I learned the value of hard work, and I hope one day to be able to teach Reid that too. I hope that in the future he will want to farm, but at least now he will have that option,” Chris said.