The First Gen Farmer – Meet The Archie Family

tfrnetwork October 1, 2019 No Comments

The First Gen Farmer – Meet The Archie Family

 

Meet the Archie Family of Bar 7 Ranch in Turnersville, TX

The Archie Family from Bar 7 Ranch in Turnersville, TX – like many involved in agriculture – wear lots of different hats on a daily basis. Heavily involved in their local community in everything from Club Managers in 4-H, managing social media for their county Farm Bureau and church, and maintaining their local businesses and full time “town jobs” – Erika and her husband Cody stay very busy.

As first generation ranchers, they’ve started their own cattle operation where they buy and sell bred heifers, as well as manage two other cattle operations in Central Texas. With a deep love for  the lifestyle that they’re able to raise their children Kylee and Clancy in, they’ve recently invested in a sheep herd for the kids as well with the hope that they’ll continue to gain the hard earned lessons in hard work, stewardship and perseverance that we all know so well.

 

One of the areas where we as farmers and ranchers often fall short in our current culture is doing a consistent job in positively advocating for agriculture on social media. Through the @bar7ranch accounts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, the Archie Family does a great job in sharing about their lives, their operation, and staying positive while educating about agriculture. Erika says “The majority of the negative, I believe, comes from being uneducated (regarding agriculture) or misinformed.  It’s not always what we say, but how we say it.  Instead of going on the defensive, we have to get out there and start by educating first.  We can’t sit back and wait for questions to come up!  And then when someone does have a question or is misinformed, we have to respond in a positive, respectful manner.” Well said!
The Farm and Ranch Network | The First Gen Farmer - The Archie Family

The Archie Family

We’re often told to “agvocate” and “tell our story”, but often that becomes overwhelming to keep up with, or sometimes to even know where to begin. Erika maintains multiple accounts through Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube just to name a few that are devoted to agriculture advocacy and education. In her words, “As agriculturists, if our voice isn’t out there, someone else’s is. We have to make the time to advocate for our livelihood.” Take a few minutes to follow her at @bar7ranch for some great inspiration on what you can do to advocate for agriculture and tell YOUR story.

“Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.  See what others are doing that works and what doesn’t.” – Erika Archie, Bar 7 Ranch on being a First Generation Rancher

Outside of juggling all of her many activities plus the ranch, kids, and their newly acquired sheep operation, Erika currently works for USDA Rural Development as a Public Affairs Officer. She was recently selected to participate in the very prestigious American Farm Bureau Federation’s Partners In Advocacy Leadership (PAL) program – which only takes on ten farmers and ranchers from across the nation for a two-year executive level training program. She was kind enough to take a few minutes from her busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

Can you tell us a little bit about your family and your operation?

I am a first-generation beef cattle rancher in Central Texas.  I along with my husband, Cody, and children, Kylee (15) and Clancy (10) manage our small cattle ranch and two other cattle operations in Central Texas.  We currently buy and sell bred heifers.  Our kids have recently purchased a small herd of sheep for their own ranching venture. In addition to the everyday feeding, checking our livestock, and maintaining our infrastructure, much time is spent researching ways to maximize our rate of return per acre by deciding what type of cattle to purchase and how to market our cattle.

We also have off-ranch jobs.  I work for USDA Rural Development as a Public Affairs Officer and we own a dry cleaners and laundromat in town that my husband manages. I spend much of my time advocating for agriculture.  I spend countless hours with my county 4-H club and county Farm Bureau promoting agriculture through Food Connection events and serving as Club Manager for our 4-H Club. I use social media to reach beyond my local community and show them a glimpse of the ranch life that we love.  I manage Facebook pages for myself, my county Farm Bureau, our ranch, our 4-H club, our dry cleaner & laundromat business, as well as our church, and also an Instagram page and the occasional YouTube video for our ranch.  Some of these pages are solely devoted to agriculture advocacy, but I try to fit agriculture education into all of my pages as much as possible throughout the year.  As agriculturalists, if our voice isn’t out there, someone else’s is. We have to make the time to advocate for our livelihood.

 As agriculturalists, if our voice isn’t out there, someone else’s is. We have to make the time to advocate for our livelihood.

The Farm and Ranch Network | The First Gen Farmer - The Archie Family

 What commodities do you currently raise?

We currently raise beef cattle and coastal hay.

 Where are you located?

In the small community of Turnersville, TX (right outside of Gatesville in Central Texas)

Agriculture can be a tough industry, we can’t imagine what it must be like as a brand new first gen operation without previous experience to fall back on. What made you decide to get into agriculture?

One afternoon, a dark headed cowboy walked into the bank where I worked and asked me on our first date to “go check cows.”  I said yes and then had to figure out what that meant!  I grew up in a rural community but not on a farm.  My husband introduced me to this way of life I now love.  We started leasing land to run a few cows on and then bought our own place that we currently live and ranch on.

What are some of the challenges you face?

Some of the challenges we face as a first-generation rancher are also some of the advantages.  While we don’t have those generations before us of ranch knowledge, we also aren’t tied to doing things a certain way just because that’s how it’s always been done.  Also, just starting with nothing is and was a challenge.

Talk about the biggest rewards or your favorite part of being involved in the agriculture industry.

Biggest reward, hands down, is being able to raise our kids in this environment.  It’s amazing to see how much our 10 and 15 year old know about where their food and fiber comes from.  They get to see new life brought into the world and experience the heartache of death on the ranch. They know that the work doesn’t stop when is cold, or raining, or even if its snowing.  I simply love the legacy that it provides for my children and future generations and the values and lessons in hard work, stewardship and perseverance it teaches along the way.

The Farm and Ranch Network | The First Gen Farmer - The Archie Family

 

Social media has been really tough on those of us involved in agriculture lately – what do you do to try to combat the negative stigma? Do you have anything you’d like to say to those who are misinformed?

Positivity!  I recently confirmed that my #1 strength is Positivity. I believe that is SO important in the ag world.  The majority of the negative, I believe, comes from being uneducated (regarding agriculture) or misinformed.  It’s not always what we say, but how we say it.  Instead of going on the defensive, we have to get out there and start by educating first.  We can’t sit back and wait for questions to come up!  And then when someone does have a question or is misinformed, we have to respond in a positive, respectful manner.

It’s not always what we say, but how we say it.  Instead of going on the defensive, we have to get out there and start by educating first.

 Tell us about your social media accounts, websites, etc. so we can follow you!

Follow me @bar7ranch on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube!

 

 Are you involved with any organizations or programs?

Yes!  4-H and Farm Bureau!  I am not a 4-H alumni but my husband is and our kids are very involved in 4-H.  I am a club manager and adult leader in my county.

I am also very involved in Farm Bureau at the county, state, and now national level.  I was recently selected to participate in the American Farm Bureau’s Partners In Advocacy Leadership (PAL) program. Ten farmers and ranchers from across the nation were selected for this two-year executive level training program that will equip us with the skills to effectively advocate for agriculture. We recently traveled to New York City for our media module and will soon head to Washington D.C. for our policy module.

What do you wish you had known before you got your operation started?

It doesn’t matter how much land or how many cows you have. What matters is maximizing every inch of your property and getting everything you can out of every cow to make a profit.

What do you want others potential first-generation producers to know?

Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice.  See what others are doing that works and what doesn’t.  Other farmers and ranchers want to see you succeed.  Just ask.  And getting involved with your Farm Bureau.  You will make friends from across the state and nation with all different types of ag backgrounds who are happy to share knowledge with you.

 Find a mentor. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

 Anything else you’d like to add?

As an old-time rancher who I look up to once told me, do one thing everyday to better your place. Even if it’s simply picking up a piece of trash that blew out into the field. Do one thing, every day.

 

We think that is exceptional advice to end on. Thank you so much to Erika Archie for sharing about her family, farm, and life.

Do you have any questions for Erika?

Let us know at TheFarmAndRanchNetwork@gmail.com or comment below.

 

The Farm and Ranch Network | The First Gen Farmer - The Archie Family
     It doesn’t matter how much land or how many cows you have. What matters is maximizing every inch of your property and getting everything you can out of every cow to make a profit.