Circle E Farms InterviewTim Kinnard
About Circle E Farms:
In the below interview, we hear from Genry and Heather Ellison, owners of Circle E Farms in south Mississippi. Genry and Heather, together with their 3 fearless children, raise cattle, chickens, bees and any other animal that may be “a deal” at the time. The Ellison family seek to put Jesus first and to work hard as faithful stewards on their farm.
The Circle E Life blog was started to give encouragement and build faith in others based on the experiences the Ellisons have in their work. Taking everyday tasks from the farm, and looking to God for guidance, they relate them to the Christian walk and how to live a godly life in this present day.
1. Describe your farm/homestead.
We are a small family farm that is a work in progress. Our goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible. We are working every day to be more efficient and profitable at the same time. We have a little under 100 head of cattle and work to produce our own beef, chicken, veggies and anything else we may need.
2. Why did you choose to begin farming/homesteading?
We started out not with the intentions necessarily to be what it is now. We wanted to move out of the suburbs, to the country and raise our kids there. We wanted to have cattle and farm animals and be more self sufficient and it slowly evolved into what it is now. We wanted to teach our kids a strong work ethic and how to rely on themselves for what they need.
3. In your experience, what has been the hardest part of farming/homesteading?
The hardest part has been trying to accomplish everything that we want to get done in any given time period in a timely manner. Most days, you start out with one plan and something will inevitably change that plan. Something breaks down or comes up and you find yourself on a task you didn’t plan for and what you wanted to done gets pushed to the back burner. Also, financially being able to do everything that you would like to do, isn’t always possible. Patience is the hardest part.
4. What have been some of your biggest mistakes or failures in farming/homesteading?
Planting pine trees and not planting posts! We started out maintaining previously planted pines and further planted many acres in pine trees in hopes that would provide future income. As our country has pushed industry out of the USA, it has become harder to get the tress cut and harvested for income. We are now learning that it is much more profitable to plant posts. The more pasture that is fenced and put in, the better the profit is with cattle and farm land.
5. In your experience, what has been the best part of farming/homesteading?
There are many things that we would say are the best. The life and values that we have given our children on the farm are second to none! Not only that, but this life has given a satisfaction like no other. Looking back on how far we have come, how our land has become what it is, and harvesting and eating what we grew are all so rewarding. Also, being a part of the cattle and farming communities has given us the opportunity to meet some really great people along the way.
6. What have been some of your biggest breakthroughs or successes in farming/homesteading?
We set out with a goal to be profitable after a certain number of years. Achieving financial freedom and profitability have been one of our greatest successes. Setting attainable goals and working to achieve them, make the successes all the sweeter.
7. Describe what you believe are the key elements to successful farming/homesteading.
Hard work and following the leading of God have been the key elements to our success. We also had a made-up mind. There was no plan B and no looking back for us. We put in the hard work, and continue to put it in and didn’t give ourselves any other option. Knowing that we were in the divine plan of God absolutely made it easier. We knew He had our backs and wouldn’t allow us to fail as long as we did our part. Being in God’s will is the key to success in anything you can ever do!
8. What would your biggest piece of advice be for first-time farmers/homesteaders?
Our biggest piece of advice would be not to grow too fast. It’s very easy to be eager and get in too deep, build too fast and then you can’t maintain it. You have to have goals but you have to work as you can and then build upon it. We would also recommend that you take advice from those that have been in it longer than a year or so. You need the wisdom of those that have put in the time and hard work. Some try to give advice and they haven’t faced enough adversity to give true advice.
9. What role does faith play in farming/homesteading?
Without our faith in God, we couldn’t do anything. He has blessed us in everything we have done. Our faith is what sustains us in the hard times and what propels us forward in the good times. We are dependent on Him for the rain and sun. Our grass, the garden and in turn the animals, don’t grow with our trusting in Him to take care of. We can’t make anything happen so we trust in Him and have faith “that He will give rain for our seed that we sow and increase of the earth and that our cattle will be fed in large pastures.” Isaiah 30:23
10. What role can a farm/homestead play in serving the Lord?
We are able to help others by what we have been blessed with on the farm. We are not only able to give from our garden and it’s bounty, but we are able to serve in giving in many other ways. We are able to help provide opportunities for friends, family and church family to have access to quality beef. Having the farm, has opened up opportunities to minister and witness that we would never have had were we still living in the subdivision. Being on the farm, has changed our perspective that our neighbor is not just the house next door. Our neighbor is anyone that we can reach out to and witness to, minister or bless, in anyway. Sometimes serving the Lord is done in word, but many times it is a dozen eggs or a jar of honey or even a bucket of snap beans. Our hope is that He shines through us in every action and every word.