100 Years of Family Farming

Our farm was recently recognized with something pretty exciting. After some research into farm and land records, we put an application in for the North Carolina Century Farm certification.

The Century Farm designation is in recognition of 100 or more years of continuous family farming. Started in 1970, the program aimed to identify farms that had been in a family for 100 continuous years. To be eligible, records had to be presented that showed that the farm had passed to a blood relative of the original owner for a century or more. Of the 52,000 farms in North Carolina only about 3% of them have been honored with the designation of a Century Farm, and we are one! Isn’t that absolutely awesome?!

DSC_0094Our farm started in 1895 when Bettie Denning and husband David Jernigan bought approximately 150 acres. In 1909, Dave died. Bettie would later marry his brother, Jim Jernigan.  Jim and Bettie never had children, but Dave and Bettie had seven together–6 boys and 1 girl. The girl was my great-grandmother, Harriett Jernigan.

A tract of the original estate was given to my great-grandmother when she married (approximately 45 acres). She and my great- grandfather, Owen Weaver, built a house on this land.

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Harriett and Owen Weaver–1952

My great-grandfather cleared a large portion of the land with an ax, by hand. He pulled the stumps up with mules. On this farm land, they grew tobacco, soybeans, corn, and  cotton. They also had chickens and up to 100 pigs. Mules were used to plow until 1956 when the first tractor was bought. It would normally take one week to plow 15 acres by mule.

My grandfather, Bob Weaver, and two older siblings, Elizabeth and Nick, were born and grew up on this plot of land.

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Bob Weaver (Papa) circa 1949.
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Papa on a retired US Army Horse.

Papa helped with the farm work until he was 18. At this time, he joined the US Air Force. He would eventually be stationed in Scotland where he met my grandma, Sylvia McCabe.

001 (9)They married in North Carolina in February of 1966.

001 (11)In 1978, they moved back to the family farm land where they built a house. At this point, my mom was 11 years old and her brother, Bobby, was 8 years old. The house was built on 14 acres of the original tract of land.

Grandma, Mom, and Uncle Bobby doing some foundation work on the house
Grandma, Mom, and Uncle Bobby doing some foundation work on the house
Papa pumping water before pipes had been run to the house
Papa pumping water before pipes had been run to the house

001 (4)My great-grandfather was living at the end of the road, still raising pigs (my great-grandmother died in 1954). The rest of the land was being leased out to a local farmer.

My great-grandfather cooking a pig on an open pit early 70's
My great-grandfather cooking a pig on an open pit in the late 60’s
July 1967--
July 1967–Mom is the baby being held by my great-grandfather. Papa is to his left and his brother, Nick, is to the far left.

Today, my Papa and Grandma have acquired 40 acres of the original estate, and my family lives on 6 of those acres. Our barn was built by my great-grandfather in the early 1960’s to be used as a pack house for tobacco.

fourth famPapa has buildings that are comprised of a tobacco barn built by my great- grandfather in the early 50’s. My great-grandfather died in 1988, but his handiwork lives on.

The next generation of our family is now farming on the same land that has been passed down for more than 100 years. Papa is growing a pecan orchard that has over 50 trees and rents out the remainder of the land for farming. We graze sheep and goats on 10 acres of the family land.

The honor of having a Century Farm is profound. In regards to why it means so much, I think Papa says it best,

“It is important to me to be able to pass down the land to my children and grandchildren, and for my future generations to know their heritage and where they come from.”

I am extremely proud to live on a Century Farm and to have such a rich history. Our roots run deep, and I love it!

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An Endangered Species: The Farm Family–You Can Help!

Coming across a petition for or against something happens about as often as gas prices change. OK, maybe not quite that much, but they do pop up quite often. Some petitions seem rather silly or only matter to a select few, but there are those certain petitions that can make an impact on many lives. They have the potential to make a difference and they matter to more than just a few individuals. I’m not talking about the petition I saw regarding Bojangles’ Cheddar Bo Biscuits and their goal of making sure every Bojangles establishment sells the cheesy goodness (although, it is a good thing to petition for). The petition I have in mind that is worth taking time to sign is the Protect North Carolina Farm Families. If you like to dine on swine, then you should definitely sign!

swine and dine

What is the petition about?

This petition has been created as a result of a large amount of attacks on the swine industry for many years.The industry has been put in a poor light by bad press, activist groups, and lawsuits regarding animal welfare and the environment (read about the latest major attack here). The petition’s goal is to bring attention to the good that the industry provides (such as jobs and the economy) and highlight the families behind the farms. The goal is to get 10,000 signatures by June to send to Governor Pat McCrory.

Why is this petition and movement so important?

Sadly, there are groups that have not only stirred up trouble regarding the hog industry, but they have also caused a lot of grief and harm. Not only have they had rallies in Raleigh and put up billboard campaigns, but they have filed countless lawsuits, against both larger and smaller farms, most of which are family owned. There have been cases of bankruptcy and the loss of those farms. Even within the larger companies, individuals are being singled out for lawsuits causing a lot of stress and burdens. At times, the only thing these families are guilty of is owning a farm. While there may be cases of neglect and poor management, the majority of cases do not involve this. Almost always, farmers try to negotiate and mediate with these groups to reach an understanding or agreement; however, it is often that this does no good.

With all that being said, farmers are your neighbors. They are your friends. They are the people you go to church with or see at your kid’s baseball game. Farmers are families, trying to make a living like anyone else. Not only are they families like yours, but they have a passion for what they do. They work hard to create a quality product for you. The life of a farmer is unpredictable, with unforgiving weather, disease outbreaks, and property damages. Add to this unpredictability, the potential for groups to sue them. It is often a scary world for farmers.

By  signing this petition, you are not only showing your support of farmers, but you are helping families–moms and dads, kids, grandparents. You will also be helping your own family. Showing support for farmers and the job that they do, helps ensure an affordable product for you. What is that product, you ask?  Bacon, pork chops, sausage, and ham. It isn’t just the delicious products that complete your breakfast meal, it is also everyday products you may not realize are made possible by pigs. Do you like s’mores? Marshmallows are made possible by pigs. How about the Superbowl? They are throwing a pigskin football. If that doesn’t get you, there is also insulin, soap, crayons, just to name a few. The point is, that if you sign this petition you are helping to keep products like these affordable for your family. It is a win-win situation. More than one family wins. Signing this petition is important, and your voice matters. The goal is 10,000. Make sure you are among those marks.

I don’t support hog farming practices, so I shouldn’t sign this petition

While I would encourage you to do as much research as possible about hog farming practices, I understand that you may simply just not agree with them. By signing this petition, you are not really supporting those practices, but rather, you are supporting FAMILIES and their livelihood. I don’t know of many who would disagree with that cause. Not only are you supporting families, but you are joining a community. In this community, you can have conversations and learn. Please, do not get hung up on the fact that you may not support certain practices. Look at the larger scope and support your fellow human, join a conversation, and be willing to learn. Perhaps we may learn a thing or two from you. I would ask, that if your mind is closed, to please open your heart up to a family much like your own.

collage pigs

I don’t have the time

I promise you that you have time. It takes less than 5 minutes. Click on this link and SIGN! It is just that simple. It took you longer to read this post than it would to sign it.

I want to do more than sign!

Great! You can become a sponsor for the initiative. Your logo will be featured on the site. You can also do something as simple as sharing this petition as much as possible. Get your family and friends to sign. Tell your farming story. Tell your friend’s farming story. Share your support for NC farm families in any way you can, whether that is a bumper sticker, word of mouth, or through Facebook. Know that every little thing counts.

Whatever your stance is, wherever you are from, please be sure to sign the petition to support NC Farm Families. It takes less than 5 minutes and is a worthy cause. Farm families are already an endangered species with less than 2% of the population accounting for farm families. With recent attacks, some may not survive. If you like bacon and you like to dine on swine, then please SIGN! If you aren’t a bacon fan, that’s fine. Have a heart, take part and support local families. Thank you in advance! Your support means the world!