At 7 a.m. on a Friday, we were huddled around the coffee machine before embarking on a farm visit to Dustin, Oklahoma.
"It's a three-hour drive to get there, the last half hour on a dirt road. We'll need an early start," Noble Research Institute Consultation Program Manager Hugh Aljoe said. Ira and I would be traveling with him that day. We filled our mugs and were out the door. Time passed quickly as we discussed grass varieties, livestock, grazing methods and other recurring topics. Hugh pointed out the beginning of Middle Creek Ranch, though it took another 30 minutes to reach headquarters.
Middle Creek Ranch is managed by Yates Adcock, who introduced himself with smiling eyes and a firm handshake. He was quick to introduce his wife, Nancy, and Austin Wilmert, a Virginia Tech student completing a summer internship here at Middle Creek. Hugh and Yates set our plans for the day before we retreated to the air-conditioned office.
Over the course of an hour, Austin explained his research plans for the summer. The Noble Research Institute will provide materials and laboratory capacities for his project. Ira and I had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Adcock about his operation. Middle Creek has increased profitability by decreasing costs, namely through eliminating hay harvest and storage and changing to year-round grazing. Coming from Idaho, I marveled at the opportunity to trade a tractor seat for a saddle. He certainly made the right choice from my perspective.
As we left the office, Mr. Adcock described the ongoing rotational grazing plan. We drove to see the herd of some 800 head, which changes pastures every two to three days. Brush management is a continual challenge; burning, mowing and herbicide – each has benefits and drawbacks.
For lunch, we were invited into the Adcock home. The home décor reveals their family values and strong faith. For a college kid used to dormitories and fraternity living, it felt good to be in a home again, not to mention the homemade apple pie.
Yates and Nancy Adcock received the Leonard Wyatt Outstanding Cooperator Award from the Noble Research Institute in 2007. After spending a day with them, it is obvious they were well-deserving. The wholesome feeling of the Adcock family parallels that of the entire Noble Research Institute. Hopefully, I speak for all the ag scholars in appreciating the honesty and family values of this work environment, including the morning coffee.