Published on Wednesday, June 28, 2017
All his life, Jim Harper of Louisiana has wanted to be a farmer. “My father was a farmer. From the time I was small, following him around and working on the farm growing up, I wanted to be a farmer.” Jim recalls.
“When I was a child, we raised seed corn. We used to detassel the seed corn by hand. That was a great memory for me. I would do that every summer. It was hard work, but I liked it. I just, I love being outdoors. I love being in the country. Sometimes it's hard to describe, but it's just a love of being on the farm, being on the land.”
Jim’s dad supported his career choice, but not until he got a college degree. “I went to LSU and I majored in Ag Business. When I got finished, I came back and started farming.” Jim explains.
“I guess it's the only job I've ever had, but I love it. I love agriculture. It's an independent lifestyle. I just love it.” Jim says.
It sounds simple enough, but a lot has changed in the years Jim has been farming. At first, Jim farmed with his father. Along the way, he learned what it meant to have a work ethic. He also learned to save a little back in the good years, so the farm could persevere through the more challenging years by watching his dad. “The older I get, the more I realize how smart my father was. He taught us to be thrifty. It's not what you make, it's what you save.” He advises.
Over the years, the farm has survived multiple hurricanes and tropical storms. “You have to be an optimist to be a farmer.” Jim smiles, looking over his sugar cane fields. “We have a lot of challenges, I would say. In Louisiana, our biggest challenge has always been the weather. We could go from a drought to a flood in a week or two.” He says seriously.
But Jim knows that’s just how life is when you work outdoors and are so connected to nature. “When you're raised on the farm and have been in agriculture since you were a child, you understand that's the cycle of farming. I love the harvest. I also love the planting season too though. I love putting the seed in the ground.”
Weather isn’t the only challenge Jim’s farm faces. Wildlife can be devastating to his rice crop. “The ducks, late in the evening, they'll go in a field and they may eat up 5 or 10 acres of rice in one night.” He explains.
Today, Jim works alongside his brother, son-in-law and nephew. They work together to raise sugar cane, soybeans, rice and crawfish. Looking forward to the next generation is what motivates Jim to be a good steward. “It's being outdoors and watching the crops grow. It's very satisfying to plant a crop and nurture it, and watch it grow all year and harvest it. It's just such a sense of accomplishment.”
"It's important to me to take care of the land because I want to be able to leave it to the next generation. Our children, their children. I want to be able to leave this land and this farm to them, so that if they so choose, they can farm and raise a family here. The whole saying that farmers were the first environmentalists is true. We want to take care of the land and leave it in better condition than when we started with it."
That’s why Jim Harper farms.
Author: Natalina Sents
Categories: Why I Farm, Why I Farm Roadtrip
Tags: Beck's Blog, Why I Farm, Beck's Hybrids, soybeans, Why I Farm Roadtrip, Louisiana Farmer, Jim Harper, sugar cane, crawfish, rice