Sponsored each year by the Alabama Farmers Federation, the Outstanding Young Farm Family Awards Program recognizes young farmers between the ages of 17 and 35 who do an outstanding job in farm, home and community activities. Division winners representing 11 commodities were selected in February. Of those, six finalists will compete for the title of overall Outstanding Young Farm Family for 2008. The winner, who will be named at the Federation’s 87th Annual Meeting in December, will receive $500 cash from Dodge, the use of a new vehicle and other prizes and will go on to compete at the national level for a 2009 Dodge Ram 3500. This month, Neighbors profiles five commodity division winners. Look for features on the six finalists in the coming months.Ryan Mitchell has had quite a year. In his first two weeks as a Randolph County dairy farmer, he lost 20 cows hit from a direct bolt of lightning. “I could count on my hand the number of times it rained last year and it was one of those days,” Mitchell said.Still, Mitchell remained positive, saying that he believed that it happened for a reason.”Farming is a way of life, no matter what kind of farming you do,” Mitchell said. “You do it wholeheartedly, and it keeps you humble.”Mitchell said his first year dairy farming, has been a big learning process.”I love to do it, and it’s been a continuous learning process,” Mitchell said. “I thought I knew more about feeding and some other things, but I’ve learned a lot.”He started out with 75 head in his milking herd and now has 79. His goal for the next year is to expand his herd.”It is a big responsibility taking care of those gals,” Mitchell said. “They are a lot different than beef cows.”Throughout it all, the Mitchells — Ryan, Beth, son Cade (4) and newborn daughter Libby — wouldn’t have it any other way.
OYFF: Mitchells Win Dairy Division